Arleas Upton Kea

Arleas Upton Kea

Class of 2020


Arleas Upton Kea is the Chief Operations Officer and Deputy to the Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an independent government corporation (the “FDIC”). She has over 30 years of managerial experience at the FDIC, providing a wide range of corporate advisory and operational support to ensure the financial stability of the banking system. Arleas is responsible for administrative oversight of a government corporation with over 6,000 employees, the management of a $2 billion annual operating budget and a $7 billion acquisitions program. She is the key advisor to the Chairman and Board of Directors on all Corporate Operations and Policy, including Strategic Planning. She also oversees Acquisitions, Real Estate, Technology, Human Resources and Talent Management, Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the development of culture change strategies which increased morale and resulted in the propelling the FDIC from 21st to first place as the Best Place to Work in the Federal Government rankings within just two years. She assisted in resolving two national financial crises. As the principal advisor for the FDIC’s executive compensation program, Arleas also has considerable experience addressing complex executive compensation matters.

Arleas has in-depth experience in crisis management. She currently leads the FDIC’s efforts in response to the COVID 19 health crisis, ensuring continuity of operations in support of the mission, while protecting the health and safety of its employees, contractors, banks and the general public. During the 2008 financial crisis, Arleas worked to bolster public confidence and restore the nation’s financial stability. At that time, she also directed an ambitious hiring initiative that increased staffing by over 4,000 employees in less than nine months to address an increasing number of financial institution failures.

Arleas held various management and leadership positions with increasing levels of responsibility during her tenure at the FDIC. From 1996-1999, she served as Ombudsman, where she effectively engaged with multiple stakeholders, including bankers, consumers, media, and the Congress, all of whom were impacted by the FDIC’s activities. Arleas also co-founded the Coalition of Federal Ombudsmen which created the model for most Government Ombudsmen practices today. When she served as Ombudsman, Arleas was named the “Answer Lady” by the American Banker publication in 1993. From 1985 to 1996, Arleas was a highly skilled attorney in the Legal Department of the FDIC where she held significant and critical roles, ultimately serving as the Acting Deputy General Counsel.

Arleas has considerable Board experience and training. She is a member of the DirectWomen Board Institute Class of 2020, the Board of Trustees of the Trinity AME Zion Church in Washington, DC and the Board of Stewards (Finance Board) of the Lomax AME Zion Church in Arlington, Virginia. She also served on the Foundation Board of Trustees at the University of Texas Law School and is the immediate past President of Texas Law School Alumni Association Executive Steering Committee. She also served as a Board member for Adoptions Together Adoption Agency.

Arleas was mentored by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. She was also a Financial Literacy Advocate at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Arleas exudes a calm and deliberate approach which serves to inspire and motivate others. She possesses the judgment, integrity, temperament, intellect, and professional experience to make significant contributions to a corporate board, and has proven experience which will assist a board in carrying out its fiduciary and management responsibilities. As an accomplished minority female executive, she will bring a perspective that is still much underrepresented.

Arleas is a natural leader who earns and commands the respect of those who meet and work with her. In addition to serving as a career public servant, she is active in her community and serves as a role model and mentor to many.