Voices of the Fed
Every day, vital conversations happen all around the Eighth Federal Reserve District. Businesspeople, educators, farmers, job-seekers, homeowners, civic leaders and more have important things to say about the economy. The St. Louis Fed is listening.
Here, current and former St. Louis Fed directors and advisory council members share their perspectives on how the organization amplifies the voice of Main Street — serving as an active partner in communities big and small.
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Elizabeth McCoy is CEO of Planters Bank, whose branches span western Kentucky and Montgomery County in Tennessee. She is a member of the St. Louis Fed’s board of directors and former chair of the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council. She sees an opportunity in the Fed reaching out to local businesspeople and bankers to ask for their perspectives on the economy, industry and employment. “I think it’s important that we are in a position to influence how the Federal Reserve feels about local economies and especially about rural America,” she says.
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Tim Lampkin is CEO of Higher Purpose Co., an economic justice nonprofit that works with black residents across Mississippi to build community wealth. “Poverty levels here in Clarksdale and across the Delta are still very high,” Lampkin notes. He says that being a member of the St. Louis Fed’s Community Development Advisory Council offered “a huge perspective” on the happenings in his region and solutions for tackling some of its biggest challenges.
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Dr. Diana Han is Vice President, Global Health, Unilever. A member of the St. Louis Fed’s health care council, she considers it vital for members to “share with the Federal Reserve what we see, hear and feel on the front lines in our districts.” To Dr. Han, these perspectives range from key health drivers in her region to access to high-quality care at a value price.
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Ray Dillon is the former chairman of the Fed's Little Rock Branch board of directors and former CEO of Arkansas-based Deltic Timber Corp. He now serves on the St. Louis Fed’s agribusiness council, one of four industry-based advisory councils. Dillon respects how much attention is paid to gathering accurate data — “real data from the grassroots level of this country” — to help form monetary policy.
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Rural communities matter to Brice Fletcher, the chairman of First National Bank of Eastern Arkansas. Now a former director of our Memphis Branch board, he enjoyed bringing the perspective of small-town America and agricultural areas. “I think they need a voice,” he says. “It’s rewarding to be able to take their stories to the Fed.”
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Robert Martinez owns and operates a livestock production business in Sevier County, Arkansas. He is a former director of the Fed’s Little Rock branch board. When asked about board meetings, he says a diverse group of leaders acts as “the eyes and ears” so that monetary policymakers have “information from every corner of the United States.”
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Kathy Mazzarella is chairman, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Graybar and former chair of the St. Louis Fed’s board of directors. “Our responsibility on the board is to share the input from not only our industries, but from our communities,” she said.
Jim McKelvey: Founder and CEO, Invisibly; Co-founder of Square, Third Degree Glass Factory, Cultivation Capital and LaunchCode
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Jim McKelvey is the founder and CEO of Invisibly. He also co-founded Square, Third Degree Glass Factory, Cultivation Capital and LaunchCode. Now a member of the St. Louis Fed’s board of directors, he says, “The biggest misconception that I had when I came into the Fed was that it was more focused on Washington and Wall Street.” In fact, he says, the Fed does work that impacts everyday people.
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Sadiqa Reynolds is president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, an organization focused on changing community outcomes. As a member of the Fed's Louisville Branch board of directors, she values the opportunity to help economic experts see how the Fed’s work can move the needle for the disenfranchised and disadvantaged.
These are part of a recurring series on our On The Economy blog, featuring perspectives from former St. Louis Fed directors.
Bob Jones: Chairman and CEO, Old National Bancorp
Originally published March 9, 2017
Jones served as a director from 2008 to 2013. As chairman and CEO of Old National Bancorp — a community bank headquartered on Main Street in Evansville, Ind. — Jones shared how he was able to gather insights from Main Street America and bring these to the Federal Reserve Bank.