Sarah Bloom Raskin is a lawyer and civil servant. She is married to Representative Jamie Raskin, who served as the lead impeachment manager in the second Senate trial against former President Donald Trump. Bloom and Raskin have been married for more than three decades and raised three children.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Raskin Was the First Woman to Serve as Deputy Treasury Secretary During the Obama Administration
Raskin made history in March 2014 when the Senate confirmed her as the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department. She was the first woman confirmed to the role and at the time, the highest-ranking woman in the department’s history, as the New York Times reported. (Janet Yellen claimed that title when she was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s Treasury Secretary in 2021).
Then-Secretary Jacob J. Lew praised Raskin in a news release at the time as a “proven and experienced leader who is dedicated to promoting economic prosperity, and enhancing business and consumer confidence.” Raskin was sworn in on April 11, 2014. During her tenure at Treasury, Raskin “focused on the macroeconomic impact of student loan borrowing, and cybersecurity, as well as drivers that bolster and sustain U.S. and global economic growth and recovery,” according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
Raskin was considered for the top job at the Treasury Department in the Biden administration. Reuters reported Raskin had been on the shortlist of contenders before President Joe Biden ultimately selected Yellen. American Banker speculated that Raskin’s outspoken views on climate change could have made her a tougher sell in the Senate. In May 2020, she published an opinion piece in the New York Times criticizing the Federal Reserve for directing money at fossil fuel companies as part of the COVID-19 recovery package.
Since leaving government service, Raskin has started teaching. She is a visiting professor at Duke University School of Law. According to her faculty profile, Raskin is also “a distinguished fellow of Duke Law School’s Global Financial Markets Center, and a senior fellow of the Duke Center on Risk in 2020 after serving as a Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University since 2018.”
2. Raskin Served on the Federal Reserve & Was Known for Her Tough Stance on Wall Street
President Obama nominated Raskin to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 2010. She was sworn in on October 4, 2010, according to Federal Reserve History. Raskin resigned on March 13, 2014, a few weeks before starting at the Treasury Department.
Raskin was known for taking a tougher stance on Wall Street. As Reuters reported, Raskin promoted “strict enforcement” of the Volcker Rule, which was part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The rule was designed to “protect bank customers by preventing banks from making certain types of speculative investments that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis,” according to Investopedia.
Raskin attracted Obama’s attention for the Federal Reserve because of her record of defending consumers’ rights during the recession. Bankrate senior financial analyst Greg McBride explained Raskin’s credentials in a 2010 interview for The Baltimore Sun: “In the aftermath of the financial crisis, there’s been greater scrutiny of the Fed’s role as a regulator — what should they have caught earlier, what missteps can be avoided in the future,” McBride told the newspaper. “So this is a nominee that adds a lot of strength to the lineup from a regulatory standpoint.”
During her Senate confirmation hearing for Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Raskin briefly described her work on the Federal Reserve in her opening statement:
In 2010, I was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate as a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board. In that capacity, I have worked with my colleagues on the Board and on the Federal Open Market Committee to maximize employment, maintain price stability, and restore the underlying strength and vibrancy of the American economy.
Raskin also described her time at the Federal Reserve on her Duke faculty profile: “At the Federal Reserve, she conducted the nation’s monetary policy as a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, regulated banks, monitored threats to the nation’s financial stability, and oversaw the nation’s payments systems. She infused her service with a strong public perspective, emphatically incorporating the values of strong consumer protection, broad economic justice, diversity and inclusion and public service excellence.”
3. She Worked on Financial Regulation During the Great Recession & Won an Award for Her Defense of Consumers
Raskin’s resume includes time spent in the private sector. According to an archived profile on the White House website, Raskin was a lawyer for engineering company Columbia Energy Services from 1998 to 2001. She worked for the Worldwide Retail Exchange from 2001 to 2003 before spending the next four years as the managing director of the Promontory Financial Group, a global consulting firm.
Raskin returned to government service in 2007 when she was named as Maryland’s Commissioner of Financial Regulation. During her time there, she was instrumental in helping the state navigate the recession by “focusing on supporting community banks and protecting consumers,” according to a Treasury Department news release.
Her tenure included efforts to protect homeowners facing eviction. The Baltimore Sun reported in 2010 that Raskin pushed to “give homeowners more time and notification before lenders can schedule an auction.” In 2009, Raskin testified before the Congressional Oversight Panel about how the U.S. economy could move forward from the financial crisis. As part of her opening statement, she advocated for regulatory changes and against consolidation in the financial industry:
As we work through a federal response to this financial crisis, including the TARP, I hope we carry forward a renewed understanding that the concentration of financial power and a lack of transparency are not in the long-term interests of our financial system, our economic system or our democracy. This lesson is one our country has had to learn in almost every generation, and I hope that the current lesson will benefit future generations.
Raskin was recognized in 2009 for her defense of “Main Street” and strong oversight of financial institutions. The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition honored her with its Denis J. Murphy Consumer Advocate of the Year Award.
4. Raskin Earned Her Law Degree From Harvard & Served as an Attorney for the Senate Committee on Banking
Raskin was born and raised in Medford, Massachusetts, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. She majored in economics at Amherst College, graduating in 1983. She was named to the school’s Board of Trustees in 2017.
Raskin earned her law degree from Harvard. That is also where she met her husband, Jamie, according to The Baltimore Sun. They tied the knot in August 1990, the New York Times reported.
Raskin started her legal career in New York City. Her first job was at the firm Mayer Brown and Platt, according to a White House news release. By the time of her wedding, she was working at Arnold & Porter where she focused on corporate finance.
Raskin went to work on Capitol Hill in 1993. She served as an attorney for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs until 1998. She discussed this experience during her opening statement when she was being considered for Deputy Treasury Secretary:
It is a special thrill to be back in the Senate. Although I spent half of my career as a lawyer in the private sector, the other half has been devoted to public service, and for me this gratifying phase of my career began right here in this Chamber. As a former Counsel to the Senate Banking Committee under three different Chairmen, I cherish the time that I spent in this
remarkable body where I learned that the character of our leaders and the purposes they bring to public life are far more important than their party labels. This is an institution with a great history and a great future, and all of America is deeply invested in its success.
5. The Raskins Have 3 Children But Tragically Lost Their Son, Tommy, in December 2020
As Jamie Raskin noted on his congressional website, he and his wife have three grown children: Tabitha, Tommy, and Hannah.
Oldest child Hannah graduated from Amherst College in 2014 before earning an MBA at the University Of California at Berkeley. According to her Linkedin profile, she works at Silicon Valley Bank. Younger daughter Tabitha also attended Amherst and graduated in 2019.
The family has been mourning the loss of only son Tommy. He took his own life on December 31, 2020, at age 25. Tommy Raskin had been in his second year of law school at Harvard, the Harvard Crimson reported.
The Raskins celebrated their son’s life in a post on Medium on January 4. They described Tommy as having been a mischievous child “beaming with laughter and charm” who played soccer and jazz piano. As an adult, they said Tommy became an “anti-war activist, a badass autodidact moral philosopher and progressive humanist libertarian, and a passionate vegan.” They added that Tommy had a “perfect heart, a perfect soul, a riotously outrageous and relentless sense of humor, and a dazzling radiant mind.”
But Tommy also struggled with depression. Jamie and Sarah Raskin shared in the Medium post that Tommy left a farewell message for his family: “Please forgive me. My illness won today. Please look after each other, the animals, and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy.”
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