FDIC names 36-year veteran to lead engagement efforts; 22-year leader will head DEI program

Two executives have been named to lead efforts at expanding stakeholder engagement and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the federal insurer of bank deposits, the agency announced Wednesday.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) said Arleas Upton Kea will be deputy to FDIC Board Chairman Jelena McWilliams for external affairs and Nikita Pearson will be director of the agency’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI).

In her new position, Kea – a 36-year veteran of the agency – will oversee the agency’s Office of Communications, Office of the Ombudsman, and the work of several committees: the Advisory Committee on Community Banking (CBAC), the Advisory Committee of State Regulators, and the Minority Depository Institutions Subcommittee of the CBAC. She most recently was the FDIC’s chief operating officer. She has also served the agency as a staff attorney, ultimately becoming acting deputy general counsel. She has also served as the FDIC’s second ombudsman and then the director of the Division of Administration (DOA).

Pearson has been serving as acting OMWI director since August 2020, where the agency said she led a “barrier analysis” to help identify potential root causes to diversity challenges at the FDIC. She also helped develop the agency’s 2021 DEI Strategic Plan, including new programs and concrete solutions to further the agency’s DEI goals. She has been with the agency for 22 years, mostly in bank supervision starting as an examiner. Among other positions, she has been assistant regional director in three of the FDIC’s six regions and has served as deputy director for administrative management, operations, and budget at FDIC headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Kea received a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas Law School and a Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of Texas. Pearson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Savannah State University, Savannah, Ga., where she graduated magna cum laude. She is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La., and the Senior Managers in Government Program at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

FDIC Announces Personnel Changes