Treasury Department hires first 'counselor for racial equity'

Janet Yellen announced that Janis Bowdler would be Treasury's first counselor for racial equity

The Treasury Department hired a former JPMorgan Chase executive to lead the agency's new program aimed at combating racial inequality issues in banking and other financial services industries. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week announced that Janis Bowdler would be the Treasury Department's first counselor for racial equity.

The Treasury Department said Bowdler would be charged with coordinating the agency's efforts to "advance racial equity, including engaging with diverse communities throughout the country to identify and mitigate barriers to accessing benefits and opportunities within the Department."


"The American economy has historically not worked fairly for communities of color," Yellen said in a statement, adding that "the pandemic threw a spotlight on this inequity; people of color were often the first to lose their jobs and businesses."

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen attends the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, Sept. 30, 2021. Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS (Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS / Reuters Photos)

"Treasury must play a central role in ensuring that as our economy recovers from the pandemic, it recovers in a way that addresses the inequalities that existed long before anyone was infected with COVID-19," she continued.  "I’m excited that Janis will join us and devote her efforts to that mission."

Bowdler, upon accepting the position, said she "could not be more humbled by the historic opportunity." 

"I have spent my entire career working in solidarity with Black, Latinx, AAPI, Native communities, and other communities of color to dismantle the structural and institutional racism that perpetuates the racial wealth divide," Bowdler said. "Addressing racial and gender disparities and giving underserved communities greater access to opportunities creates more broadly shared prosperity for all."


Bowdler previously served as a president of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Foundation. The Treasury Department said that, under her leadership, the firm launched several critical initiatives "that have expanded capital for entrepreneurs of color, improved access to banking products and services, expanded access to new job skills, and built more inclusive neighborhoods." Bowdler also played a "critical role" in developing the firm’s "incremental $30 billion racial equity commitment."

Meanwhile, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo highlighted Bowdler's "historic appointment," and the agency's creation of a Racial Equity Advisory Committee and other ongoing efforts to promote diversity among the Treasury workforce.