Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Names Karen Pennell as First Vice President, Chief Operating Officer Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Names Karen Pennell as First Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

Leader brings 35 years of experience at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Federal Reserve’s National Information Technology, Customer Support Functions Leader brings 35 years of experience at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Federal Reserve’s National Information Technology, Customer Support Functions

February 27, 2024

Boston, MA – The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is pleased to announce that Karen A. Pennell will become first vice president and chief operating officer, beginning in April. Since 2021, Pennell has been executive vice president and chief client services officer in the Federal Reserve’s National Information Technology function, and has been based in Kansas City, Missouri.

From 1989 through 2020, Pennell held positions of increasing responsibility at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, rising to senior vice president and member of the Management Committee. Pennell will succeed Kenneth C. Montgomery, who last fall announced plans to retire after 40 years of service to the Federal Reserve System.

The Role

The first vice president and chief operating officer is the Bank’s second-ranking officer, vice chair of the Bank's Executive Committee, and a key advisor and strategic partner to the president and CEO. In the role, Pennell will lead the Bank’s contributions and performance in operational, technological, financial, risk management, workforce, and support areas. In the absence of the Bank’s president, the first vice president serves as chief executive officer.

Nationally, the first vice president collaborates with System peers on major initiatives; directs many national financial management activities for the Federal Reserve System (leading its Financial Support Office); and serves as a member of the Fed's Conference of First Vice Presidents.


“Karen is exceptionally qualified for this important role,” said President Susan M. Collins. “Her career to date is characterized by factors we prioritized in this search – business and financial acumen, dexterity amidst change and complexity, technological and process innovation, results orientation, a collaborative mindset, people-development skills, and effective relationship-building.” She added, “I am excited to begin working with Karen as we lead the Boston Fed in continued service to New England and the nation."

"Serving the public good is a great privilege for me, and for all of us in the Federal Reserve System,” said Pennell, “and inspires us to pursue excellence. I look forward to contributing to the Fed’s mission in this key leadership role, working with the talented team at the Boston Fed to together continue to drive progress."

The Search

The announcement follows a rigorous search, selection by the eligible (non-banker) members of the Bank's Board of Directors, and approval by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington.

"The search committee has a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives, and vetted many excellent candidates,” said board chair Corey Thomas, the chairman and CEO of Rapid7. “Ultimately we saw Karen as the ideal person – given her technology, operations, and leadership abilities – to ensure the Bank’s work continues to be characterized by excellence and innovation."

To ensure an open and rigorous process, the Bank’s board formed a search committee led by Corey Thomas and including directors Roger Crandall (Mass. Mutual Life Insurance Co.), Lizanne Kindler (KnitWell Group), Kimberly Sherman Stamler (Related Beal), Dr. Lauren A. Smith M.D., and Collins. The committee retained executive search firm Bridge Partners to assist – and welcomed applications, inquiries, and referrals.

More information about the search process can be found on the First Vice President Search webpage.


Pennell has worked in a range of areas within the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, and in its contributions to national Federal Reserve work – particularly in financial services customer support, IT support and strategy, and technology transitions. In her most recent role, in the Fed’s National IT function, she headed client services and focused on technology requirements for lines of business across the Federal Reserve System, major project and program delivery, infrastructure and operations in support of the U.S. Treasury, and end user services for System employees.

She has deep experience leading matrixed organizations, and a track record of fostering collaboration and engagement. She chartered and co-sponsored the Kansas City Fed’s first Women in Technology community of practice, and a Minorities in Technology Task Force; and served on the Kansas City STEM Alliance advisory board.

Pennell holds a B.S. from Missouri State University and an MBA from Rockhurst College, and has participated in certification programs in banking operations and technology at Vanderbilt University. In her early days she helped out on her family’s cattle ranch, and with her husband has two adult sons.

The Boston Fed

The Boston Federal Reserve Bank, one of 12 regional reserve banks, serves the First Federal Reserve District, which includes all of New England except Fairfield County, Connecticut. Within the district, the Bank monitors local economic conditions to aid in the formulation of monetary policy, engages in outreach to promote economic growth and community revitalization, supervises banks and bank holding companies, and provides financial services to facilitate banking operations.

One can learn more about the Boston Fed on the Bank's website.