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Chris Reynolds ’06

Banking on the Fed

By Donna Parker

While the rest of us watch the story of America’s economic struggle unfold on the network news, Chris Reynolds, who received his dual bachelor’s degree in theoretical economics and urban public policy in 2006, works behind the scenes with senior officials at the Federal Reserve who make decisions that will have a major impact. As a senior research assistant at the Federal Reserve in the financial structure section, division of research and statistics, Chris’ title alone is impressive. His post does carry major league responsibility.

“It is absolutely fascinating to be in the room with some of the best minds in the country.  Incredible and terrifying – right there on the front lines as things are progressing in the economy.”

In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently used some of Chris’ heat maps showing areas of financial negativity in the United States in a speech at Columbia University in New York – a subject about which Chris is extremely modest.

“Right now, I’m just doing grunt work for the actual economists – the people who make the decisions.  Long term, I’d need a Ph.D. to work there full-time.”

Chris hopes to pursue his graduate degree at either Columbia or Brown, concentrating in the short term on his schooling and in the long term on returning to the Fed as an economist.

“Really, I thank Trinity for teaching the GIS (geographic information systems) technology.  The only reason I got Mr. Bernanke’s attention is because I knew how to run that particular software system which enables one to put economic data into geographic context.”

For that, Chris thanks John Huston, department of economics, who was also his advisor, and Blake Bailey ’03, a fellow alumnus, who held the position at the Fed prior to Chris.

“John mentioned to me that he had a former student working at the Reserve,” says Chris.  “Blake was then gracious enough to review my resume and my application.”

When not working at the Reserve, Chris and his wife, Lauren Sicking ’06, also a Trinity graduate, belong to the Washington D.C. Interfaith Network lobbying the city council and mayor so that people of lesser means are not pushed out of the city by gentrification.

“DC is such a stratified city by race and socioeconomic status.  People do not usually leave their residential pods, but this gives us a chance to volunteer to do home improvement work for the underprivileged and protect their rights.”

Chris says he honed his community advocacy skills on the Trinity campus.

“I was a resident assistant for two years and lived on a first year hall my junior and senior years, building a sense of community and plugging the new students into things that I thought they’d love.  I loved every minute of being there for people.”

“Much of my economics preparation came from Richard Butler, department of economics.  He turned me onto the field of urban economics which I will soon study at the graduate level.”

“And Char Miller, department of history, who was also my urban studies advisor.  It was so clear that he was excited to teach and that was infectious.”

“I have to say that right now I’m doing things for the Fed in relation to the current bailouts, which are incredibly interesting and challenging.  Maybe in a few years, I’ll get into teaching economics.  There’s nothing in the world I’d like more than to teach at Trinity, but for now, this is awesome.”

You may e-mail Chris at Urban.economist@gmail.com.