5 things you didn't know about Janet Yellen

Story highlights

  • The Senate confirms Janet Yellen as the next chair of U.S. Federal Reserve
  • Current chairman Ben Bernanke will complete his second term this month
  • Yellen will be the first woman head in the Fed's 100-year history
  • The native New Yorker has extensive economic and academic experience

She is poised to become one of the world's most powerful women, joining an elite club of fellow female trailblazers including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff.

But when President Obama announced his nominee for the next chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve last October, few outside the financial world had heard of Janet Yellen.

Serving as the current deputy to Ben Bernanke for the past three years, the Senate confirmed Yellen's nomination Monday. CNN takes a look at the woman who will serve as first female chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the world's most powerful central bank, when Bernanke steps down at the end of the month.

Backed by experience

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Obama nominates Janet Yellen as Fed chair
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A native of Brooklyn, New York, the 67-year-old economist has an impressive academic career coupled with extensive experience as a public servant.

"She is a proven leader because she's tough ... Janet is exceptionally well qualified for this role," Obama told reporters in October. "She's served in leadership positions in the Fed for more than a decade."

After Yellen earned her B.A. in Economics with the highest distinction from Brown University, she went on to Yale where she received her doctorate in 1971.

Her years in academia also saw her take on an assistant professor role at Harvard, a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science followed by 26 years as a professor at University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

Read: Yellen will become a superstar

Economics in the family

Away from her role at the central bank, Yellen's family is also closely tied to the world of economics.

She met her husband, Nobel Prize recipient George Akerlof, while they were both working at the Federal Reserve in 1977. Meanwhile their son, Robert is an assistant professor in Economics at the University of Warwick in England.

Communication is key

When then-President Clinton appointed her to chair his Council of Economic Advisers in 1997, he said: "She is an esteemed writer and thinker who will serve our country well."

While today she speaks primarily on economic policy, Yellen was, in fact, the editor in chief of her high school paper, 'The Pilot.' As The New York Times reported, in order to maintain the school's tradition of having the editor interview the valedictorian, in 1963 Yellen delightfully interviewed herself.

Read: Yellen's rise highlights lack of women in central banks

Finance is a small world

Her closest rival for the nomination was former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers -- who she taught macroeconomics to in 1976 -- but he withdrew his name from consideration last month amid mounting press coverage.

Yellen has been widely welcomed by the markets and fellow economists, 300 of which had previously signed an open letter urging the U.S. president to nominate the New York native.

Two steps ahead

During Obama's nomination announcement to appoint Yellen, he praised her good judgment and understanding of how the markets work while also highlighting some of the economic issues she has foreseen.

"As vice chair for the past year she has been exemplary ... She sounded the alarm early about the housing bubble, about excesses in the financial sector and about the risks of a major recession."

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