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Williams picked as next president of New York Fed

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 26: San Francisco

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 26: San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams visits "Opening Bell With Maria Bartiromo" on FOX Business Network at FOX Studios on February 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Rob Kim

John Williams, currently head of the Federal Reserve’s regional bank in San Francisco, has been selected to be the next president of the Fed’s New York regional bank, considered the most influential position among the central bank’s 12 regional banks.

The selection was made by the eligible members of the New York Fed’s board of directors and approved by the Fed’s board in Washington. Even before the official announcement Tuesday, the choice had generated controversy. Opponents said the search process had failed to come up with a candidate who would diversify the top ranks of the Fed system, which is heavily dominated by white males.

Williams, 55, has spent most of his working life in the Fed system, becoming president of the San Francisco Fed in 2011, succeeding Janet Yellen.

He will take over for William Dudley, who announced last year that he planned to step down this summer. Dudley’s last day will be June 17, and Williams will take over on June 18, the New York Fed said in an announcement.

“After a thorough process, my fellow search committee members and I felt that John best fulfilled the criteria we’d identified as well as the feedback received through our public outreach efforts,” said Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union and chair of the New York Fed’s board of directors and co-chair of the search committee.

Williams said that he was honored to be chosen lead the New York Fed and “represent the diverse needs and economic challenges of all people living and working” in the New York Fed district.

But a number of New York officials have complained about the lack of diversity.

“The New York Fed has never been led by a woman or a person of color, and that needs to change,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a recent statement.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been critical of the job Williams did in overseeing banking giant Wells Fargo, which has had to deal in recent years with a number of regulatory issues.

But Yellen, the first woman to serve as Fed chair, said Tuesday she strongly supported Williams’ selection for the New York job. He “has made major contributions to the formulation of monetary policy,” she said in a statement.

The president of the New York Fed has a permanent vote on the central bank’s interest rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

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