Organization: FDICAppointed by President Bush in 2006 for a five-year term, the former children's author is in charge of managing the insurance fund for the country's roughly 8,000-plus banks. She took a typically sleepy position and made it central, anticipating the credit meltdown and lobbying for legislation to stop foreclosures.
Bair's views on the government's response to the financial crisis has oftentimes put her at odds with both administrations she's spanned. But her tough stance has earned her the admiration of peers and grudging respect of opponents. She reportedly butted heads with then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson over TARP, and more recently, she broke with other regulators by pressing hard for an independent consumer-focused agency to protect borrowers from predatory lenders.
She argued against provisions in Sen. Chris Dodd's financial reform bill, which according to Bair, would have allowed the potential for back-door bailouts. The result? Dodd promised the language would be removed.
NEXT: Christoph Westphal