WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will nominate Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin as the U.S. Treasury Department's No. 2 official, two sources familiar with the process said on Wednesday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Raskin, 52, would become the highest-ranking woman in the Treasury Department's history. She would replace Neal Wolin, who has been deputy treasury secretary since 2009 and is stepping down in August.
The announcement is expected later on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the process.
Obama has been criticized for not appointing more women to top posts in his administration. Some Senate Democrats have urged him to appoint Janet Yellen as the first female head of the Federal Reserve after Ben Bernanke, who is widely expected to depart in January.
Raskin, a former state banking regulator, has served on the U.S. central bank's board since October 2010 after being nominated by Obama. She would bring bank regulatory experience to the job to complement the budgetary expertise of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
At the Fed, Raskin was responsible for overseeing administrative and operations functions, which should help her in her role managing Treasury staff, a traditional responsibility of the deputy secretary.
Lew pushed Raskin as his ideal deputy, given her management and banking experience, and presented her as a smooth transition from Wolin, according to the source.
Wolin, 51, has been a key behind-the-curtains figure during his tenure, best known for helping lead the push for the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and for overseeing implementation of the new rules it put in place.
Raskin's Senate confirmation to the Fed board and her earlier work as an aide to the Senate Banking Committee could help smooth her confirmation if Obama nominates her.
If Raskin moves to the Treasury Department, it would open a second vacancy on the seven-person Fed board. Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke, another banking expert, said earlier this month she was stepping down on August 31.
Before serving on the Fed board, Raskin was commissioner of financial regulation for the state of Maryland and a managing director at the Promontory Financial Group. She was also the banking counsel for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.
Earlier in her career, she worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Eric Beech and Christopher Wilson)