Senate OKs Janet Yellen to Lead Fed Brooklyn, NY, native will be first woman to lead the central bank By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Jan 6, 2014 5:11 PM CST 15 comments Comments In this Nov. 14, 2013 file photo, Janet Yellen smiles as she is introduced as being the first female to be nominated as Federal Reserve Board chair, prior to testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin) (Newser) – The Senate has easily approved Janet Yellen's nomination to head the Federal Reserve. Monday's 56-26 vote makes Yellen the first woman to lead the central bank in its century-long history. It puts an economist in the post who has long focused on fighting unemployment and who backed the Fed's recent efforts to spur the economy with low interest rates and huge bond purchases. Yellen, 67, begins her four-year term as chair on Feb. 1. She replaces Ben Bernanke, who has held the job for eight years dominated by the Great Recession and his efforts to fight it. In debating Yellen's confirmation, senators in both parties criticized the Fed for doing too much and too little to boost the US economy, the New York Times reports. But Yellen's confirmation still passed easily, with 11 Republicans on board, making her the first Democratic nominee to lead the central bank since 1979. The bookish and meticulous economist will face several challenges in her new post, the Wall Street Journal notes, including slowing down the Fed's asset purchases as the economy improves and finding consensus on a divided policy committee.