Photo: Dale Robbins

Sheila Bair

Financial Reform Expert

Sheila Bair was appointed by President George W. Bush to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 2006, and served until 2011. During her time as chairperson, she gave some of the earliest warnings to legislators regarding the housing crisis. Following the financial meltdown in 2008, Bair spearheaded the FDIC’s takeover of more than 300 failed banks. She was a vocal opponent of the “Too Big to Fail” doctrine, and argued that some of the largest banks should have been allowed to fail instead of being bailed out with taxpayer dollars.

Her unwavering support for smaller banks and Main Street America has made her the subject of praise by many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, while making her less popular with Wall Street executives. She had frequently expressed doubt that the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act goes far enough to prevent another financial collapse, and in February 2013 published an editorial in the New York Times admonishing Republicans for supporting policies which cause greater income inequality. Since June 2012, Bair has headed the Systemic Risk Council, an independent committee formed by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the CFA Institute to monitor and advocate for regulatory reform.

Ms. Bair has worked in Washington since the 1980s, when she was recruited by Senator Bob Dole to join his Senate Finance Committee staff. She later worked as a commissioner at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and as a government relations officer at the New York Stock Exchange. Before her appointment at the FDIC, Ms. Bair taught public policy at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she won acclaim for her work on consumer protection issues.

Ms. Bair is also the author of two children’s books, aimed at teaching young readers about entrepreneurship and the value of saving money. Her book Bull by the Horns, about Wall Street reform, came out in September 2012.