WASHINGTON — President Biden on Friday said he would nominate Adriana Kugler for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board and would elevate Philip Jefferson, a current governor, as vice chair of the central bank.
If they are confirmed by the Senate, the Fed would get its first Latina board member and its second Black vice chair, a move that could both make the Fed more diverse and build out its leadership team at a challenging economic moment.
Mr. Biden chose Ms. Kugler, an economist with a background in labor economics who has Colombian heritage and is the U.S. executive director of the World Bank, to fill the Fed’s only remaining open governor position on its seven-member board. In a corresponding move, he elevated Mr. Jefferson, an economist who was confirmed overwhelmingly to the board when Mr. Biden nominated him to an open governor position, to be the Fed’s vice chair.
The New York Times previously reported on the expected nominations.
Lael Brainard, who became head of Mr. Biden’s White House National Economic Council earlier this year, was the vice chair of the Fed until February.
Because the Fed’s vice chair comes from among its seven governors, Ms. Brainard’s resignation left both a governor seat open and the vice chair role vacant. Ms. Kugler will take the open spot on the board, while Mr. Jefferson, who is already a Fed governor, will be elevated to the leadership position.
The Biden administration needed to balance a complicated set of priorities as it filled those open spots at the Fed, the world’s most powerful central bank. The administration is under pressure, especially from Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, to appoint a Latino or Latina to the Fed Board. And the Fed itself is at an unusually challenging juncture: It is trying to wrestle rapid inflation lower with the most aggressive policy campaign since the 1980s, one that could come at a significant cost the job market.
Mr. Biden also announced that he would nominate Lisa Cook, a sitting Fed governor whose term will expire early next year, to another full 14-year term as a member of the board.
“These nominees understand that this job is not a partisan one, but one that plays a critical role in pursuing maximum employment, maintaining price stability and supervising many of our nation’s financial institutions,” Mr. Biden said in statement announcing the picks.
A Latino person has never served on the Fed board in the central bank’s more than 109-year history, so Ms. Kugler’s nomination would be a first if it ended in confirmation. It would also add an official with considerable experience in labor economics: Ms. Kugler, who was formerly an economist and administrator at Georgetown University, served as chief economist of the Labor Department during the Obama administration from 2011 to 2013.
She has worked in the economics departments at the University of Houston and at University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, and she has a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mr. Menendez praised the decision in a statement on Friday, and made clear that he will support the nominees.
“I for one will make it my personal mission to help ensure swift confirmations for Jefferson, Cook and Kugler,” he said.
Mr. Jefferson, who took office at the Fed last May, is an economist who most recently served as an administrator at Davidson College and has a doctorate in economics from the University of Virginia. During his tenure at the Fed, he has built a reputation as an inquisitive listener with an interest in staff economic research.
Mr. Jefferson was born in Washington D.C., in a neighborhood called Kingman Park. During his confirmation hearing to be a Fed governor, he recalled that in his youth, “it was a place where the line between a future of success or struggle was thin.”
If confirmed, he would be the second Black person to reach such an elevated position at the Fed, following Roger W. Ferguson Jr., an economist and business executive.