Colombian American Makes U.S. History

Posted by on Sep 20, 2023 in Economics, Stuff You Should Know, United States

For the first time in its 109-year history, the Federal Reserve now has a Latina on its governing board. The U.S. Senate confirmed Colombian American economist Dr. Adriana Kugler by a 53-45 vote in September 2023. 
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez said Kugler’s place on the Board of Governors is a step in changing the leadership of U.S. institutions to fully reflect the people who live here. More than 62 million Hispanics live in the United States. Recent reports show that Latinos contributed more than $3 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2021.

Kugler’s Career

Kugler is an expert on labor and international economics. She has held high-level leadership roles in both the public and private sectors. She received a PhD in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Most recently, Kugler served as the U.S. Executive Director at the World Bank Group. To accept that role, she took a leave of absence from her position as a professor of public policy and economics at Georgetown University in 2022. From 2011 to 2013, Kugler was Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor during the administration of President Barack Obama.  

Early Life Experiences 

After President Joe Biden nominated her, Kugler testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs in June 2023. She told committee members she has lived the American dream.  

Kugler was born in the United States but spent her childhood in Colombia. Her parents were active in social projects in Colombia. They would often take her to run-down towns and rural areas. Kugler spent summers with her maternal grandparents in one of the poorest states in Colombia. She says beginning at an early age she saw homelessness, child labor, poverty, and lack of access to necessities. As she grew up, she wanted to address these social issues.  
Kugler has researched worker training in the United States and Colombia. In a 2022 podcast interview with UC Berkeley, she said it is a lack of access to work that creates problems for people in poverty. And she said the lack of labor earnings creates a lack of fairness in life including access to housing, health, the legal system, and political power.  

What Does the Federal Reserve Do? 

The Federal Reserve is the central banking system of the United States (the Fed). Its seven-member Board of Governors oversees the 12 Federal Reserve Banks across the country and works with Congress on economic issues. The Fed also establishes monetary policies that keep the U.S. economy stable. An example of this monetary policy is adjusting national interest rates to try and adjust the inflation rate. When the Fed raises interest rates, the cost to borrow money increases. When the expense of borrowing money rises, the amount of money circulating in the economy decreases. This helps lower inflation.  

An Economy for All Americans 

Kugler said it is important to her to set policy that will reduce inflation and promote the highest levels of employment. She said it is important to bring inflation down to the Fed’s two percent goal to create an economy that supports all Americans. She is one of three new governors on the Federal Reserve board. She fills the empty seat of Dr. Lael Brainard, who left to become an economic adviser to President Biden. Kugler will serve the remainder of Brainard’s term, which ends January 31, 2026.  

What Do You Think? How does Dr. Kugler’s background and experience qualify her to serve on the Fed Board?