The theme of this year’s gala — innovation and finance for public purpose – highlighted an area of SIPA’s longstanding expertise.
The School honored Janet Yellen, the distinguished economist and former chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, for her commitment to sound policymaking in support of economic growth and stability.
SIPA also honored the International Finance Corporation for its innovative use of private investment to to mobilize private capital and markets for public purpose and vitality. Karin Finkelston, IFC’s vice president of partnerships, communication, and outreach, accepted the award on the organization’s behalf.
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Dean Merit E. Janow saluted the honorees for exemplifying the qualities that SIPA seeks to instill in its students.
Yellen — cited by Janow for her “extraordinary career in government and academia” — will be remembered for her outstanding leadership of the Federal Reserve but also her status as the first woman to occupy the position. Having completed her four-year term just a few months ago, she is now the distinguished fellow in residence at the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution.
In accepting the award from Janow, Yellen said her experience at the Federal Reserve reinforced her view that public service is a valuable, and rewarding calling.
She lauded SIPA “for training a cadre of future policymakers who have the skills, understanding, and values to address the serious public policy challenges facing nations around the globe”
Asked for advice for current students who wish to pursue careers in finance, Yellen said they should not think narrowly but take an expansive view of their jobs and essentially bring concenrs to the attention of policy makers.
The IFC’s Finkleston urged students to be doers.
“We find a lot of people who can say why [something] won’t work,” she said. “Saying what it would take to make it work, that’s the kind of attitude to move you forward.”
Proceeds raised through the Gala will provide critical fellowship support for SIPA students and resources to recruit and educate outstanding students from around the world.