Janis Bowdler

  • Was a Project Manager at the Famicos Foundation from 2001 - 2003
  • Served as an Economic Policy Director at the National Council of La Raza from 2003-13
  • Joined JPMorgan Chase as a Managing Director in 2013
  • Became JPMorgan Chase’s Head of Global Philanthropy in 2018
  • Became President of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Foundation in 2018
  • Was appointed by Janet Yellen as the U.S. Treasury Department’s Counselor for Racial Equity in 2021
  • Claims that American society is replete with "structural racism"

Janis Bowdler was raised in a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating with a B.A. degree in Political Science and History from Malone University in 2000, she obtained a Master of Science degree in Urban Policy from Cleveland State University in 2002.

Identifying as a Latina, Bowdler claims that during her youth in a predominantly white suburb, she yearned for Latina role models. Over time, she became motivated to address socioeconomic inequalities that, by her telling, were determined more by people’s racial/ethnic backgrounds and where they happened to reside, than by their respective abilities and achievements. As a result, Bowdler decided to pursue a career devoted to combating such disparities, particularly within the housing market.

From 2001-2003, Bowdler worked as a Project Manager at the Famicos Foundation, an organization whose stated mission is to “improve the quality of life in greater Cleveland through neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing and integrated services.”

Bowdler then spent 2003-2013 serving as an Economic Policy Director at the National Council of La Raza (later renamed “Unidos US”). In this role, she was responsible for overseeing “a team dedicated to research, advocacy, and policy analysis issues that advance … economic security and foster opportunities for Hispanic families to thrive and share assets with the next generation,” as she says in her official Linkedin profile.

When the federal government in 2011 sought to require homebuyers to make at least a 20 percent down payment when purchasing their homes, Bowdler complained: “Most people don’t have 20 percent to put down. These rules will so significantly deter the ability of first-time buyers to break into the market that we will see a real decline in home ownership.” (Just three years earlier, the U.S. had suffered through a cataclysmic economic crisis due to policies like the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which forced banks to make special efforts to seek out and lend to minority borrowers who lacked the assets to make a substantial down payment.)

In 2013, Bowdler joined JPMorgan Chase as a Managing Director in the Washington, D.C. area. Five years later, she became the company’s Head of Global Philanthropy as well as President of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Foundation.

In 2018 as well, Bowdler co-authored a book titled Building Equitable Cities: How to Drive Economic Mobility and Regional Growth, with former Clinton Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, a lifelong Democrat.

In a January 2021 MarketWatch article reporting that “U.S. banks pledged billions of dollars to help struggling communities in 2020,” Bowdler was quoted as aying: “Now more than ever, business has a responsibility to step up and help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.” “An economy that is fair and works for everyone,” she added, “including communities of color, low-income families, and others who have been underserved for decades, is good for the communities we serve, our employees and our business.”

In October 2021, Bowdler was appointed by Janet Yellen — Treasury Secretary of the BidenHarris administration — as the U.S. Treasury Department’s new Counselor for Racial Equity. Stating that the “American economy has historically not worked fairly for communities of color,” Yellen voiced her eagerness to work closely with Bowdler, whom she described as “part of a multi-pronged strategy by the Biden administration to deal with systemic racism found in many parts of the economy.” “Treasury must play a central role in ensuring that as our economy recovers from the pandemic, it recovers in a way that addresses the inequalities that existed long before anyone was infected with COVID-19,” Yellen added. The Biden White House was especially impressed with Bowdler’s past “role in developing [JP Morgan’s] incremental $30 billion racial equity commitment.” Keen on “addressing racial and gender disparities,” Bowdler boasted of her own experience “working in solidarity with Black, Latinx, AAPI, Native communities, and other communities of color to dismantle the structural and institutional racism that perpetuates the racial wealth divide.”

During a December 2021 discussion with both Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Bowdler reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to “racial equity.” She emphasized that the federal government must “center equity” at the heart of its agenda in order to defeat “structural racism” and the “preexisting racial/economic inequities” that pre-dated the COVID-19 outbreak. Bowdler also brought attention to “other seismic shifts in our economy,” such as “the way climate change is affecting the economies of Native Nations and disrupting the financial experiences of other communities of color.” “We are facing structural challenges that require structural solutions,” Bowdler added. Moreover, she touted the Biden administration’s “once-in-a-generation kinds of investments that are completely reimagining the way that our economy is going to work for communities of color.” Near the conversation’s end, Bowdler asked both Harris and Yellen to discuss how ordinary Americans could contribute to “our shared goal of eradicating the racial wealth divide.”

In April 2022, Bowdler participated in a Unidos US summit discussing the Biden administration’s plans to further ensure “racial equity” under the new $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. “All too often, the economy has not worked well for Black, Latino, and AAPI communities,” she told the listening audience, adding: “The challenges that we face today are rooted in our history of structural racism that has prevented [communities of color] from participating in the middle class.” Noting that the Treasury Department “is requiring governments to report how their projects are impacting the communities they serve,” Bowdler also encouraged her listeners to advocate for the administration’s new programs: “We have to make sure that we are institutionalizing and building a muscle for this work within government agencies.”