This UMKC Alumna Was the First Woman to Lead the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Esther George’s (MBA ’00) journey is one marked by leadership, accomplishment and breaking glass ceilings.
Esther George
In 2011, she became the first woman president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

For more than 10 years, George led a workforce of 2,100 Federal Reserve employees serving seven states from the bank’s headquarters in Kansas City. She had a major influence on our nation’s banking system, and was actively involved in the Federal Reserve’s work to ensure the smooth and efficient functioning of the nation’s payment system, including leading the effort to establish instant retail payments known as the FedNow Service.

“Great cities have great universities, and I see Kansas City as poised to build on its momentum with UMKC at its center.” — Esther George (MBA ’00), retired president and CEO of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank

But before all of that, she was a student at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, a choice she credits with preparing her for the role.

“Education is such an important investment, and I consider UMKC and the Bloch School as playing a key role in my leadership development that ultimately led to my appointment as president and CEO of the Kansas City Fed,” George said.

George enrolled at the Bloch school as a full-time employee and mother to two young children. Being able to go to a renowned institution that fit into her life was a key part of her decision of where to receive her master’s degree.

“The proximity of the master’s program at the Bloch School and the quality of the curriculum made it a perfect choice,” George said.

George said she made faculty connections at UMKC that have lasted throughout her career, and that she even keeps in touch with some today.

“Their enthusiasm for the subjects they taught was infectious and effective,” George said.

George said the impact of connecting has been impactful for her career, and advised future female leaders to look for people who can help them grow.

“As women invest in their education and pursue a given career path, it can be helpful to rely on mentors,” George said. “I benefited from looking to people with more experience, with different experiences to help me think about my personal effectiveness.”

A Kansas City leader, George serves on the boards of the Hallmark Corporation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Kansas City 2026 World Cup.

Learn more about Henry W. Bloch School of Management

Published: Nov 15, 2023

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