Jelena McWilliams was officially sworn in Tuesday as the twenty-first chairman of the federal deposit insurer; her first day on the job was Monday.
McWilliams – confirmed by the Senate May 24 to succeed Martin Gruenberg as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Board – is beginning a five-year term at helm of the deposit insurance agency for the nation’s banks. She also serves a term on the agency board that expires in 2024.
In comments following the swearing in, McWilliams said “it is an honor and a privilege to join the FDIC as Chairman. I look forward to working closely with my fellow Board members and counterparts at other regulatory agencies.”
The new chairman also extended gratitude to former chairman Gruenberg, thanking him “for his service, dedication, and leadership during his nearly 13 years at the FDIC.”
A former bank executive (chief legal officer, executive vice president, and corporate secretary for Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio), she has also served as chief counsel and deputy staff director for the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. She previously served as assistant chief counsel for the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.
She has also served an attorney at the Federal Reserve Board. She practiced corporate and securities law at Morrison & Foerster LLP in Palo Alto, Calif., and Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells LLP) in Washington, D.C.
She is the third woman to serve as chairman of the agency, following Ricki Tigert Helfer and Sheila Bair (and the only woman currently heading up a federal financial institution regulatory agency). At 44, she is the second-youngest chairman of the FDIC – and the youngest of the five current financial institution regulatory leaders.
Born in Serbia, she came to the United States as a teenager. Her first name, reportedly, is properly pronounced “YELL-un-uh.”
Gruenberg remains on the FDIC Board as a member, in a term that runs to December. He has served on the FDIC Board since August 2005, as Vice Chairman and Acting Chairman before becoming Chairman Nov. 29, 2012.
The vice chairman’s seat on the board remains empty, and President Donald Trump has yet to make a nomination for the position.