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5 things you didn't know about Janet Yellen

October 10, 2013: 5:00 AM ET

President Obama's pick for Fed chair is also a stamp collector!

President Obama and Janet Yellen

President Obama and Janet Yellen

FORTUNE -- President Obama on Wednesday tapped Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. By now, many Americans know Yellen could go down in history as the first woman to lead the Fed, as well as the first Democrat to head the central bank in almost 30 years.

Here are a few facets you might not know about.

At 57, Yellen ran a half marathon.

As President Obama said Wednesday when he nominated Yellen to be the next Fed chair, "She is a proven leader and she's tough, not just because she's from Brooklyn."

Obama should have added that Yellen, currently 67, is tough for having finished a half-marathon a few years ago. At 57, she took up running while a professor at the University of California-Berkley. The 13-plus mile run took her about three hours.

Now that takes strength.

Yellen has a fancy stamp collection.

The lover of economics is also a lover of stamps.

Yellen is one of the wealthiest members of the Federal Reserve board of governors, with investments worth at least $4.8 million in 2012, according to annual financial disclosures the Fed released in August.

Included in her investments, mostly held jointly with her husband, is a stamp collection worth between $15,000 and $50,000. Apparently it has been in the family for years; Yellen inherited a stamp collection with that same range from her mother.

Yellen's main rival for Fed Chair was also one of her students.

Yup, that's Larry Summers.

In 1976, Yellen was a lecturer at Harvard University teaching a macroeconomics class where Summers was a student.

Years later Summers would run Harvard University and become the frontrunner for Fed chair, only to withdraw himself from the contest and watch his former professor take the nomination.

Harvard, it's a small world.

Yellen loves economics so much she married economic greatness.

Yellen is impressive, and so is her husband in his own right. He is Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof, whom she met in 1977 when they were both economists at the Fed board.

Akerlof shared the 2001 prize for his work on asymmetric information and has written about the financial crisis and banking regulation.

Together, he and Yellen make the ultimate econ power couple.

Once upon a time, Yellen was a journalist.

Yellen graduated from Brooklyn's Hamilton High School, and it was tradition for the editor to interview the valedictorian. An odd tradition, but surprise! Yellen was both.

So what's both an editor and valedictorian to do? The New York Times has retrieved a 1963 article from her high school paper in which a young Yellen does a mock-interview with herself.

It's pretty charming. Read more here.

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About This Author
Nin-Hai Tseng
Nin-Hai Tseng
Writer, Fortune

Nin-Hai Tseng covers economics and finance. Before joining Fortune, Tseng was a reporter at The Orlando Sentinel and a public affairs associate at GE. She holds an MPA from Columbia University and a BS in Journalism from the University of Florida. She lives in New York City.

Email | @ninhaitseng | RSS

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