Name at birth: Lawrence Henry Summers
Lawrence "Larry" Summers is the director of the National Economic Council and a top advisor to President Barack Obama on economic policies. Summers has been in Washington before, as a member of President Ronald Reagan's economic team (1982-83) and as an undersecretary and then Secretary of the Treasury in the administration of President Bill Clinton (1995-99). He grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1975) in economics. He earned a PhD from Harvard University (1982) and became a tenured professor there when he was just 28 years old. Known to be as blunt as he is brilliant, Summers is famous less for his economic theories than for his controversial tenure as the president of Harvard University, a post he held from 2001 until he resigned in 2006. During his time there he caused a ruckus by questioning the scholarly integrity of African-American studies professor Cornel West and, more significantly, by provoking debate in 2005 about innate differences between men and women when it comes to math and science. Having clashed with much of Harvard's faculty, Summers resigned as the school's president in 2006. He took a year off and then returned as a professor of economics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. An advisor to Obama's presidential campaign, Summers was named Director of the National Economic Council in 2009 and is said to have as much influence as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner when it comes to directing economic policies for the Obama administration.