A Natural With Numbers
By Lena Basha
Volume 141, No. 1, January/February 2007, Page 5

It is 9:05 a.m., and Sherry Edwards doesn’t have time for chitchat. As deputy associate director of the division of monetary affairs at the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C., she has only five minutes to prepare for a set of conference calls with key decision-makers. Her job: to analyze the factors—from demand for the U.S. dollar to foreign central bank transactions—that could affect supply and demand for reserves at the nation’s banks, which helps determine the size of that day’s multibillion-dollar open-market operation.

It sounds complicated, but to Dr. Edwards, it’s just part of her morning routine in a career she always saw herself doing.

Dr. Edwards studied economics at Wellesley College, a prestigious women’s college in Wellesley, Mass., and credits that experience for her career choice.

“They were very encouraging of economics students to get their doctorates because there were so few women in the profession,” she says of her Wellesley professors. “I was very influenced by that.”

After earning her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, Dr. Edwards started as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and climbed the ranks to her current position with the Board of Governors.

Currently, she is only one of two woman officers in her division of 71 people—quite a feat for someone who works part-time.

Since her first son was born almost 11 years ago, Dr. Edwards says she feels blessed to work somewhere that encourages a balance of work and family life.

“I’ve been able to work part-time, and I’ve been promoted to an officer position,” she says. “It’s pretty amazing. Not a lot of places let you do that.”

And she certainly never thought that place would be the Federal Reserve.

“Before I submitted the memo asking to work part-time, I absolutely expected to be told no,” she says. “It was 1996, and the notion of alternative work arrangements were just coming into vogue. But they said yes really quickly.”

She admits there have been trade-offs to working part-time, but she wouldn’t give up having more free time to spend with her two sons and her husband, Paul Denis, for anything. It also frees up her schedule for involvement in the DAR.

When Dr. Edwards worked in New York, her husband took a job in Washington, D.C., and he commuted each week for three years. “When your husband’s away, you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, so I started researching my family history,” she says.

Dr. Edwards would spend a couple of hours a week at the Family History Library trying to trace her history back to John Boyd, an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution. “When I moved to the Washington area, I realized that if I became a member of the DAR, I could use the DAR Library without having to pay each time.”

A member of the Freedom Hill Chapter, McLean, Va., since 1993, Dr. Edwards currently serves as National Vice Chairman of the Outstanding Junior Member Contest and State Chairman of the Finance Committee.

“The friendships are just wonderful,” she says. “I got into the DAR from the genealogy perspective, but what keeps me involved are my friends. I believe in the tenets of the DAR, and to do that with fun people is what keeps me going.”

Credit: Photos courtesy of Kevin Allen

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