On Thursday, March 27, President Jeff Lacker presented former Richmond Fed Director and former Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth “Betsy” Ashburn Duke with the Virginia Women in History Award at the Library of Virginia.
Congress designated March as National Women’s History Month and with the assistance of Dominion Power and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Library is able to honor eight women each year for their contributions in all walks of life.
As a member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, community banker Betsy Duke helped implement the Federal Reserve System's response to the 2008 financial crisis.
A native of Portsmouth, Va., Duke majored in dramatic arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But when she needed a job after graduation, she began working as a part-time bank teller. As she gained experience, Duke took on more responsibilities and eventually became chief financial officer of the Bank of Virginia Beach. While working, she also earned an MBA at Old Dominion University in 1983. She helped establish the Bank of Tidewater, becoming its president in 1987 and chief executive officer in 1991. She was named chief operating officer of TowneBank in 2005.
Duke taught bank management at banking schools around the country and is active in banking associations. From 1998 to 2000, she sat on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. In 1999, the Virginia Bankers Association elected her as the organization's first female president. Duke achieved another first in 2004 when she became the first woman to chair the American Bankers Association.
In 2007, President George W. Bush nominated Duke to fill an unexpired seat on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. She took her oath of office in August 2008 — the first former director of the Richmond Fed Board of Directors to join the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. During the subsequent economic crisis, she focused on issues related to housing and mortgage markets, foreclosures and neighborhood stability, working to balance new regulations and continued access to homeownership. She also promoted community banks as vital contributors to the nation's banking system.
With her understanding of the banking system, of lending, of small businesses and how they operate, Betsy Duke provided a much needed perspective during the time she served our country on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Duke has held many civic positions, including serving on the boards of directors of the Virginia Council on Economic Education, the Hampton Roads Partnership, the Old Dominion University Foundation and the Economics Club of Hampton Roads. She also served on the Virginia Legislative Subcommittee to Study Capital Access and Business Financing and served on the Board of Commissioners of the Norfolk Airport Authority.
In 2005, the Virginia General Assembly honored Betsy Duke with a resolution that commended her professional accomplishments and for “providing an exceptional role model for women in the banking industry.”