Jelena McWilliams

Jelena McWilliams is Chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. She was nominated to the position and to the FDIC Board of Directors by President Donald J. Trump, and the Senate confirmed her appointment on May 24, 2018. She was sworn in as Chairwoman on June 5, 2018. Previously, McWilliams was executive vice president and chief legal officer of Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Early life and education

Born Jelena Obrenic in Belgrade, Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, McWilliams traveled to the United States at age 18 as part of a high-school exchange program. She attended the University of California at Berkeley for college. She funded her education by working a series of minimum-wage jobs. She wrote her thesis on the war in her native Yugoslavia. McWilliams graduated with highest honors with a Bachelor of Science in political science and went on to earn her law degree from the UC Berkeley School of Law.


McWilliams began practicing law working with tech firms at Morrison & Foerster LLP in Palo Alto, California and then moved to Hogan & Hartson LLP, now Hogan Lovells LLP, in Washington, D.C.
From 2007 to 2010, McWilliams worked as a lawyer at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where she focused on a proposal for rules meant to make it easier for consumers to dispute mistakes on their credit reports and to understand their mortgages.
McWilliams worked in the United States Senate for six years, first as assistant chief counsel for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and then as chief counsel and deputy staff director for the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. At the banking committee, McWilliams worked with chairpersons Senator Richard Shelby and Senator Mike Crapo on, among other issues, the implementation of and efforts to rework or repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking-regulation reform act.
McWilliams served as executive vice president, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary for Fifth Third from January 2017 until May 2018.

FDIC nomination

On November 30, 2017, the White House press secretary issued a release announcing the President's intention to nominate McWilliams to fill the remainder of a six-year term expiring July 15, 2019, and to serve as chairperson for a term of five years. McWilliams had been under consideration for the appointment since July 2017, when James Clinger withdrew his nomination for the position.
By year-end 2017, Fifth Third determined that if McWilliams were confirmed as FDIC head, it would not move to have her return the $300,000 signing bonus the bank had paid her when she joined its staff.
Before McWilliams' confirmation, The Wall Street Journal previewed the proposed change in leadership at the FDIC, along with changes at the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, saying banks "can expect to see significant further relief" from postcrisis rules under the new leadership. In that context, the article referenced Dodd-Frank, The Volcker Rule, the Community Reinvestment Act, small-dollar loans, new banks, fintech,
leveraged lending, cybersecurity, and capital, liquidity and overall and supplementary leverage rules.

Personal life

McWilliams, who is a single mother, has one daughter. She moved her parents from Yugoslavia to the United States after saving enough money to do so.