U.S. Treasury names former JP Morgan executive as racial equity czar

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Treasury building is seen in Washington, September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has named Janis Bowdler, a Latina activist and former head of the philanthropic arm of JP Morgan Chase, as the first-ever counselor for racial equity at the Treasury Department, a Treasury official said.

A racial equity review during the first 200 days of the Biden administration showed the need for a champion to head economic policy initiatives to advance racial equity, the official said on Monday.

Bowdler will work to set up an external racial equity advisory committee at Treasury that taps the expertise of academics, researchers, community activists and advocates.

As part of Yellen’s commitment to bolstering the diversity of Treasury’s career staff, the department will also announce the appointment of Ventris Gibson as deputy director of the U.S. Mint, the official said.

A longtime federal career executive and U.S. Navy veteran, Gibson will assume the role of acting director, the first Black person to head that agency, the official said.

“Taking steps to unlock the unrealized potential of underserved communities makes our economy stronger and benefits all Americans,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo wrote in a blog post to be published on Monday.

Adeyemo noted that 40% of Treasury’s political appointees – and 50% of those in executive leadership roles – identified as people of color, but “much more work” needed to be done in diversifying the broader career staff.

Treasury has a workforce of more than 95,000 employees in all 50 states and around the world. No data was immediately available on the percentage of people of color on staff overall staff.

Adeyemo said the department was working to step up recruitment among groups representing veterans, people with disabilities and other minorities.

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