Jelena McWilliams

Jelena McWilliams

Chairman of FDIC (2018-2022)

Short Biography

Jelena McWilliams served as the 21st Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), where she managed over 6,000 employees, a $2.2 billion budget, and engaged in oversight of approximately 5,000 banks.  From 2018 to 2022, she implemented a robust regulatory agenda to encourage competition, foster innovation and digital transformation, and advance financial inclusion both inside the FDIC and throughout the banking system. She conceptualized and the FDIC implemented The Mission-Driven Bank Fund, a novel public-private partnership to stimulate capital investments in minority depository institutions that serve low- and moderate-income populations and communities of color.  

Ms. McWilliams led the FDIC’s response to the unprecedented economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate a fifty-percent increase in deposits (from $13.5 trillion to $20 trillion) in FDIC-insured banks while ensuring that consumers continued to have reliable access to banking services. During her tenure, only eight FDIC-insured banks failed.  Before heading to the FDIC, Ms. McWilliams was Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Corporate Secretary for Fifth Third Bank, a $200+ billion regional bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to that, Ms. McWilliams worked in the U.S. Senate as Chief Counsel and Deputy Staff Director with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Assistant Chief Counsel with the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. During the 2008 financial crisis, Ms. McWilliams worked at the Federal Reserve on a number of consumer regulatory initiatives, including subprime lending, mortgage disclosures, and overdraft protection.  

Before entering public service, Ms. McWilliams practiced corporate and securities law at Morrison & Foerster LLP in Palo Alto, California, and Hogan Lovells LLP in Washington, D.C., where she advised management and boards of directors on mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, strategic business initiatives, venture capital investments, and corporate governance matters.  Ms. McWilliams graduated with highest honors from the University of California at Berkeley with a B.S. in political science, and her law degree from University of California Berkeley School of Law.

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