USC professor Raphael Bostic was named the president and CEO of Atlanta’s Federal Reserve Bank on March 13, 2017. Bostic is the first openly gay man — and the first black person ever — to lead any of the Fed’s 12 regional reserve banks. The New York Times reported that the Fed has come under pressure from Democrats to diversify its leadership. The U.S. News & World Report confirmed this, citing a study proving that more than 80% of regional banks’ board members were white. The Times proclaimed that the hiring of Bostic “shattered a 104-year-old racial barrier.”
Bostic acknowledged the significance of his hiring, calling it “a very big deal.” In a video released by the Atlanta Fed, he said,
“It’s not lost on me that I …am the first African American to lead a Federal Reserve institution,” adding, “It’s kind of daunting. It’s an overwhelming thought. It’s a tremendous privilege.”
Born in 1966, Bostic grew up in Delran, New Jersey. He graduated from Harvard in 1987 with a combined major in economics and psychology. He then earned a doctorate in economics from Stanford in 1995. He worked as the staff economist for the Fed’s Board of Governors from 1995-2001. He became a professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning, and Development in 2001. In this capacity, he explored issues like the effects of government regulations on homeownership. The Times indicated that Bostic is an expert on housing policy, and he said he wanted to focus the Atlanta Fed on issues related to housing: “We’re certainly going to be thinking about looking at how housing is contributing or hampering people’s quality of life in the communities we’re responsible for.”
Bostic served as an assistant secretary for policy development and research from 2009-2012 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was confirmed by the Senate and worked under the Obama administration. In 2012, he returned to USC to serve as the Judith and John Bedrosian Chair of Governance and the Public Enterprise at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Bostic took office on June 15 of this year. According to the LA Times, he will be supervising some 1700 employees in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and parts of three other states. The Atlanta Federal Reserve states that the Atlanta Fed “participates in setting national monetary policy, supervises numerous banking organizations and provides a variety of payment services to financial institutions and the U.S. government. Bostic will have overall responsibility for these functions and will represent the Sixth Federal Reserve District at meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee, the policymaking body within the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy for the nation.”