Clara Juanita Morris Kreps (January 11, 1921 – July 5, 2010) was an American government official and businesswoman. She served as the United States Secretary of Commerce from January 23, 1977 until October 31, 1979, under President Jimmy Carter and was the first woman to hold that position, and the fourth woman to hold any Cabinet position.
Early life and career
Kreps was born Clara Juanita Morris on January 11, 1921, in Lynch, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Cenia (née Blair) and Elmer M. Morris. She graduated from Berea College in 1942, and earned her master's and Ph.D. in economics at Duke University in 1944 and 1948, respectively. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. A specialist in labor demographics, Kreps taught at Denison University, Hofstra College, Queens College, and Duke. She rose through the ranks there to become the university's first female vice president. In 1972 she was the first woman director of the New York Stock Exchange.
On August 11, 1944, she married Clifton Holland Kreps, Jr., a former professor at the University of North Carolina. They had two daughters and one son.
Kreps was awarded the 1976 North Carolina Award for public service and 20 honorary degrees. She was sat on the board of 10 major corporations. A collection of Kreps' papers is housed at the Rubenstein Library at the Duke University.
Political advisor Anne Wexler, who was serving on the President Jimmy Carter's transition team after his victory in the 1976 presidential election, recommended Kreps for a post in the Carter administration. Kreps was appointed to serve as the Secretary of Commerce. She resigned on October 31, 1979. She was replaced by Philip M. Klutznick.
Kreps died in Durham, North Carolina, on July 5, 2010. She was buried at the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Churchyard in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.