The U.S. Senate confirmed Lisa DeNell Cook, an established economist and researcher, to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors Tuesday night (May 10), per NBC News. This makes her the first Black woman to serve on the panel in its 108-year history. Vice President Kamala Harris was reportedly the tie-breaker after senators voted 50-50 along party lines.
"As President [Joe] Biden said today, addressing inflation remains a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration, as we work to lower costs for hardworking families," a White House official said in a statement. "It is important to have a fully-staffed Federal Reserve who can take on these challenges for the American people."
Cook's historic confirmation comes as the Reserve continues fighting against rapidly-rising inflation across the country. Essentials like gas prices, rent, and groceries are seeing dramatic increases as the U.S. rebounds from the crippling COVID-19 pandemic.
The Georgia native's sterling resume includes serving on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's board of directors, working on the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration, and teaching students about economics and international relations at Michigan State University. She's also been vocal about how Jim Crow laws and racial discrimination have held back the U.S. economy.
"Research shows that while the immediate targets of racism are unquestionably hurt the most, discrimination inflicts a staggering cost on the entire economy, reducing the wealth and income of millions of people, including many who do not customarily view themselves as victims," Cook wrote in a 2020 New York Times article. "From the lost wages of African-Americans because of President Woodrow Wilson’s segregation of the Civil Service, to the losses suffered by Black and Hispanic students because of California’s ban on affirmative action, to the scarcity of Black girls in higher-level high school math courses, the scope of the toll continues to grow."
Another Black person is awaiting confirmation to the Federal Reserve this week: research economist Philip Jefferson. If confirmed, he who would become the fourth Black man to serve on the board.