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The Honorable Sheila C. Bair

President of Washington College; Former Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 2006-2011; Senior Advisor, Pew Charitable Trusts; Preeminent Financial Reform and Policy Innovator

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From Time’s “Top 100” list to the Wall Street Journal’s “The 50 Women to Watch,” Sheila is one of the most requested finance and economics thought-leaders in the industry. She guided the FDIC and audiences crave her insights. Forbes touted her as the “second most powerful woman in the world.”

Featured Videos

Sheila Bair + IBM Watson on Risk

Merrick School Speaker Series: Sheila Bair

Sheila Bair Speech at 2011 ICBA National Convention

Speaker Resources

  • The Honorable Sheila C. Bair
  • The Honorable Sheila C. Bair
  • The Honorable Sheila C. Bair
  • The Honorable Sheila C. Bair

Sheila C. Bair is the President of Washington College, a historic liberal arts school located on Maryland’s scenic Eastern Shore. Washington College was founded in 1782 as the first college chartered in the new nation. George Washington helped found it with a donation of 50 guineas and served on its governing board for five years before becoming the first president of the United States. The College is known for the high quality, intimate educational experience it provides undergraduates, and for its nationally recognized centers focused on the environment, American history, and literature. Ms. Bair assumed office at the College on August 1, 2015.

Ms. Bair is perhaps best known for her service as the 19th Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a five-year term, from June 2006 through July 2011. With the collapse and upheaval of U.S. and global markets as well as venerable financial institutions, Chairman Bair worked diligently both in front of and behind the scenes to bolster public confidence and financial system stability. Her extraordinary efforts and relentless dedication established her as an ardent advocate and innovator of policies to end the doctrine of too-big-to-fail and taxpayer bailouts.

Chairman Bair has been lauded for her fierce advocacy of the public interest in articles and editorials in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Financial Times, and the New Yorker. As Time Magazine aptly stated in selecting her as one of its 100 most influential people, she has served as "the little guy's protector in chief." Additionally, Chairman Bair has received numerous honors and accolades for her pioneering work including the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and twice being named by Forbes Magazine as the second most powerful woman in the world after Germany's Angela Merkel. She has also penned a book about the financial crisis for young adults, which was released by Simon and Schuster in May of 2015.

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    Sheila Bair + IBM Watson on Risk

    (IBM) – Sheila Bair and IBM Watson discuss risk management and how cognitive analytics can make sense of complex data to help people and institutions manage risk.

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    Learn at Lunch to feature Sheila Bair

    Washington College President Sheila Bair will be the speaker for the final installment of the college’s Academy of Lifelong Learning Learn at Lunch Series on Tuesday, April 12.

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    Bair Announces New Scholarship

    (The Elm) – On Dec. 10, President Sheila Bair announced a new scholarship in Executive Assistant Annie Coleman’s name.

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    Bair speaks at rural summit

    (The Star Democrat) – The keynote speaker was Sheila Bair, president of Washington College and former chairman of the FDIC.

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    Stop Treating Small Banks as If They Caused the Crisis: Bair

    “Round up the usual suspects.” That famous line from “Casablanca” neatly sums up the regulatory attitude toward the banking industry in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

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    A President Looks at New Ways to Help Financially Needy Applicants

    (The Chronicle of Higher Education) – Now the former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has set her sights on another area of the financial sector: student debt.

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    George’s Brigade, Bair’s Admissions Initative, Will Create Economic Oppourtunity

    Starting with the Class of 2020, the Office of Admissions at Washington College will make a college education possible for a group of 20 students who could not consider it otherwise.

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    Sheila Bair and the Bullies of Wall Street: WC President Reads at Literary House, Explains “How Greed Messed up our Economy”

    “This was human error,” Bair said. “I do want our young people to understand that because I want them to do better.”

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    What’s really causing the student debt crisis, according to Sheila Bair

    “You have this dynamic of declining real wages and an increased need for a college degree, and so what you end up having is more and more young people applying to college with fewer families able to pay for it.”

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    WC’s President Bair to read Oct. 19

    (My Eastern Shore MD) – Washington College President Sheila C. Bair will read an excerpt from her newest book, “The Bullies of Wall Street,” at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at the Rose O’Neill Literary House, 407 Washington Ave.

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    Paulson, Bair raise concerns about fiscal policy

    (The Star) – Economics was in the spotlight when former treasury secretary Henry Paulson and Washington College President Sheila Bair met in a symposium, “Our World, Their Future,” to discuss how the environment and the global economy will affect the next generation.

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    College president embraces opportunity to give back

    Bair, who already has distinguished herself as the college’s first female president, used the platform of her inauguration Saturday morning, Sept. 26, to establish college affordability and access as the first major themes of her administration.

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    Paulson, Bair discuss economic future

    (My Eastern Shore MD) – Economics was in the spotlight when former treasury secretary Henry Paulson and Washington College President Sheila Bair met in a symposium, “Our World, Their Future,” to discuss how the environment and the global economy will affect the next generation.

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    Plan for college savings

    (Baltimore Sun) – Sheila C. Bair, the former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and one of the few who warned of the subprime mortgage mess before the meltdown devastated Wall Street and the nation’s economy, became the first woman to be inaugurated president of the private liberal arts college on the Eastern Shore.

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    A Monumental Week for Sheila Bair

    The brisk wind blowing across the green on the morning of Sept. 26 seemed to embody the winds of change for Washington College as Sheila Bair was inaugurated as the College’s 28th president.

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    Five Minutes With Sheila Bair, new president of Washington College

    Several years after helping manage the U.S. government’s response to the recent financial crisis as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Sheila Bair finds herself in a very different role: president of Washington College on the Eastern Shore.

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    Lessons from the Financial Crisis

    (CFA Institute) – Roughly seven years removed from the outbreak of the global financial crisis, there is still much to be learned about what caused the crash and how better to prevent similar meltdowns from occurring in the future.

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    Fed decision disappointing: Sheila Bair

    (CNBC) – Click here to watch the video.

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    Bair: ‘Too much is made’ of bank chair, CEO debate

    (Yahoo Finance) – A former chief of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says too much emphasis is put on the debate over whether bank chief executives should also be board chairs. 

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    Bair speaks with student reporters

    (MyEasternShoreMD) – Despite the heavy workload and packed calendar, the Kansas native and former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took time last week to speak with the news editors of Washington College's student newspaper, The Elm.

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    Washington College President Bair Joins Former Treasury Secretary Paulson for Conversation on China-U.S. Economic Ties, Environmental Crises, and More

    Paulson and Bair were two of the top Washington officials who led the United States out of the economic crisis now called the Great Recession.

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    Review: “The Bullies of Wall St”

    (Emissourian) – Former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, has written a young reader’s primer about the 2008 financial collapse and its impact on families. Bair was at the helm of this potent United States bank regulator from June 2006 to July 2011. When the financial crisis hit, she was in the middle of the storm.

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    Sheila Bair: Will regulators cause the next crisis? A response to Jamie Dimon

    By Sheila Bair

    Some of Wall Street’s most influential voices are warning of the possibility for another financial crisis, and they want you to know in advance that it isn’t going to be their fault.

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    President excited to get to work

    CHESTERTOWN — Washington College’s incoming president posted a video online this week in which she speaks about how excited she is to start her new job and how impressed she is with the institution and everyone associated with it.

    Sheila Bair takes over Aug. 1 as the official replacement for Mitchell Reiss, who vacated the president’s office about a year ago to be the president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia. Jay Griswold, an emeritus member and former chairman of the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors, filled in as interim college president during the search for Reiss’ successor.

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    Sheila Bair: Shrinking populations pose a huge economic opportunity

    (FORTUNE) – Smaller populations are not necessarily a bad thing.

    The former chairwoman of the FDIC Sheila Bair on Monday took on the topic of shrinking populations: in developed countries, she says, they pose a huge economic opportunity.

    Long-term demographic trends in developed countries that indicate shrinking populations will produce “short-term issues” like large elderly populations being forced to depend on a smaller working-age cohort, she said. But the problems will “level out over time,” especially with the aid of technology.

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    Sheila Bair: Why I wrote ‘Bullies of Wall Street’

    (Yahoo Finance) – “Reap what you sow.” Many of us remember hearing that in church as we were growing up, but in fact, it is a universal teaching in all religions. Innately, we know it’s only right for people to enjoy the benefits that flow from their own ideas and hard work. It’s equally important for people to accept the consequences when they fail. If a student goes to class and studies hard, he should get a good grade. If he slacks off, he shouldn’t.  Not only is this principle morally right, it also provides practical benefits to society. Knowing that we will benefit (or suffer) from the results of our own behavior encourages us all to do our best.

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    The Women Who Questioned Wall Street

    (Harvard Gazette) – Sheila Bair, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Mary Schapiro explain their dogged efforts to hold financial industries accountable

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    Ex-FDIC Chairman Bair Is Named to Lead Washington College

    Sheila Bair, who became a vocal advocate for tougher bank regulation when she led the FDIC, will become president of Washington College.

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    Sheila Bair’s ‘Bullies of Wall Street’

    By Stephen Ganda

    em style=”line-height: 20.7999992370605px;”>(Fortune) – Sheila Bair was head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, one of the U.S.’s principal bank regulators, from June 2006 to July 2011. When the financial crisis hit, Bair was at the center of the storm. Her latest book on the financial crisis, The Bullies of Wall Street, which comes out on Tuesday, is aimed at a younger audience. The book is a young adult novel/explainer of what happened during the financial crisis, how it may have affected teens, and how U.S. officials responded. In the following excerpt, Bair, tells the story of Matt, a fictional teen who is facing the fact that his beloved dog Attila will have to be put to sleep because his family is about to lose their house to foreclosure. Bair also recounts a meeting she had with President Obama on Air Force One in early 2009.

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    Paying for College Has to Be Easier Than This

    (Wall Street Journal) – Government policies discourage parents from saving for their children’s education.

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    Damming Student Debt: One Liberal-Arts College’s Approach

    (The Chronicle of Higher Education) – For five years, including during the subprime-mortgage crisis, she served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. A year ago she became president of Washington College, and she has turned more of her attention to student-loan debt

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    Sheila Bair Called the Financial Crisis. Here’s Her New Nightmare

    (Bloomberg) – The former FDIC chief went up against Wall Street in 2006. To her, the nation’s $1.4 trillion student debt is the disaster around the corner.

Widely lauded for her steady hand in leading the FDIC through the worst financial crisis since the great depression, Sheila Bair has a proven track record of effective leadership and decision-making under extraordinary pressure– when the consequences are nothing short of calamitous if the decision is wrong. In naming her to their 100 Most Influential People in 2009, Time Magazine recognized that Bair’s unusual clout derives from the breadth of her command and her guts in staking new ground. Topics Chairman Bair will address in her remarks:

  • Assessing risk with imperfect information;

  • Evaluating options when there is no choice but to act;

  • Resolving conflicts with other decision makers under crisis conditions;

  • Dealing with the media and Congress;

  • Women navigating male power structures;

  • Keeping faith with the public interest and standing up for the little guy.

As Chairman of the FDIC, Sheila Bair was responsible for the safekeeping of some $6 trillion in insured bank deposits at the height of the Great Recession. Given her integral involvement in safeguarding the financial system during one of the world’s worst financial crises, Chairman Bair has unique insights on how that crisis and ensuing reforms promise to change the financial landscape. Topics Chairman Bair will address include:

  • The current health of the financial services sector;

  • The impact regulatory reforms will have on the size and structure of the financial sector;

  • Continuing risks in the housing sector and the dangers the foreclosure crisis poses to financial institutions and the broader economy;

  • The need for GSE reform and an ultimate exit? strategy for current government involvement;

  • Interest rate risk and the relationship between fiscal discipline and the broader stability of the financial system and availability of credit;

  • The potential impact of new consumer regulation on the costs and availability of consumer credit;

  • The future of community banking and what can be done to help the nation’s thousands of smaller lending institutions.

Sheila Bair was an integral player in the development and enactment of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and as a member of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, has also been a pivotal force in the development of tougher global capital and liquidity standards for large, internationally active institutions. As such, she is intimately familiar with new and pending financial reforms designed to address the root causes of the financial crisis. Topics Chairman Bair will cover include:

  • An overview of the Dodd-Frank law and summary of its key provisions;

  • An overview of the regulatory implementation process by the individual agencies and the Financial Stability Oversight Council on which she served;

  • The process and criteria for determining whether a financial institution is systemic? and the consequences of such a designation;

  • The Volcker Rule’s new restrictions on proprietary trading as well as new regulations and curbs on derivatives trading;

  • The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and what it means for consumers as well as the financial industry;

  • Compensation restrictions;

  • New capital and liquidity standards being promulgated by the Basel Committee;

  • Resolution regimes being put in place in the US and throughout the world for dealing with failing large financial institutions without resort to government bailouts.

As Chairman of the FDIC during the financial crisis, Sheila Bair oversaw the successful resolution of over 350 banking institutions representing assets in excess of $800 billion. Working in tandem with the Federal Reserve Board and US Treasury Department, the FDIC was deeply involved in the frenetic efforts to stabilize troubled financial behemoths such as Wachovia, Citibank and Bank of America, representing trillions of dollars in assets. Chairman Bair fought a public –if not always successful — battle against government bailouts and decried the lack of adequate tools to deal with failing financial conglomerates. She successfully sought new authority in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to place all large financial institutions under the same type of receivership process the FDIC has successfully used for insured banks, thus shifting the financial burden of failure onto creditors and shareholders, not taxpayers. Topics Chairman Bair will address include:

  • The doctrine of too big to fail and how it distorts resource allocation and leads to excessive risk taking;

  • How Dodd-Frank seeks to end too big to fail? by giving the FDIC the authority to resolve large, failing institutions using its bankruptcy-like resolution process;

  • How resolution authority works and the strategies and tools that the FDIC can use to break up and sell off large, financial firms;

  • How new requirements for large financial entities to devise their own living will or break-up plans will facilitate their orderly resolution;

  • The role of higher capital and liquidity standards in reducing the risk of large bank failures and the impact of those rules in promoting financial stability and credit availability;

  • Tax code reforms that could further promote more stable financial institutions.

Check Availability

  • "Second Most Powerful Woman in the World."

  • "A fearless advocate for the 'little guy'"

  • "Chairman Bair was terrific...and an absolute joy to work with."

  • "Chairman Bair was terrific! From accommodating to our early news opportunity to delivering a fine talk and Q&A to smiling through the sponsor reception - she could not have been easier to work with."

  • "[Sheila Bair's] content was clear and she spoke to the needs of the audience. We had bankers and accountants nodding in agreeement..."