FHFA appoints artificial intelligence czar

Tracy Stephan is a mortgage technology veteran, and will oversee the agency’s artificial intelligence approach and policy

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced this week that it has appointed Tracy Stephan to serve as its chief artificial intelligence officer (CAIO), adding the position to her existing duties leading the agency’s Office of Financial Technology.

Stephan is described as a 25-year veteran in the mortgage technology space, where she “leads a team responsible for supporting the Agency’s efforts to identify technology-driven developments in housing finance, understand the associated risks, and facilitate the development of responsible innovation in FHFA’s regulated entities,” the agency said.

Stephan’s appointment comes as a response to an executive order issued by President Joe Biden in October 2023, which called for a series of policy development and standards for the quickly-burgeoning artificial intelligence (AI) space.

“Artificial Intelligence must be safe and secure,” the October 2023 order reads in part. “Meeting this goal requires robust, reliable, repeatable, and standardized evaluations of AI systems, as well as policies, institutions, and, as appropriate, other mechanisms to test, understand, and mitigate risks from these systems before they are put to use.  It also requires addressing AI systems’ most pressing security risks — including with respect to biotechnology, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and other national security dangers — while navigating AI’s opacity and complexity.”

The appointment of Stephan comes in an effort to comply with both the order and an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo that called for “advancing governance, innovation, and risk management for agency use of [AI].”

“Establishing a Chief AI Officer underscores FHFA’s commitment to understanding new developments in technology and the marketplace and incorporating those insights into our day-to-day work,” said FHFA Director Sandra Thompson in a statement. “Through her role leading the Office of Financial Technology, Tracy has been a leader in FHFA’s work on AI and she is well prepared to lead this into the future.”

Stephan came to FHFA from a 17-year stint at Fannie Mae, where she worked on issues including enterprise innovation, data, software engineering and product management. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Decision Science and Information Systems from George Mason University.

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