Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Monday, November 26, 2012

Schapiro Steps Down; Walter is new SEC Chair

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro announced that she will leave the Commission on Dec. 12, concluding her nearly four-year tenure.  The SEC release notes that she is one of the longest serving SEC chairman, having served longer than 24 of the previous 28.  The release also include a list of SEC accomplishments under her tenure.  The White House has already named current SEC Commissioner Elisse B. Walter as the new Chair.  Several other names had been floated, but Ms. Walter gets the top job.  Her appointment does not require Senate confirmation, since she is a sitting Commissioner.

Here is Ms. Walter's bio from the SEC website:

Elisse B. Walter was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was sworn in on July 9, 2008. Under designation by President Barack Obama, she served as Acting Chairman during January 2009.

Prior to her appointment as an SEC Commissioner, Ms. Walter served as Senior Executive Vice President, Regulatory Policy & Programs, for FINRA. She held the same position at NASD before its 2007 consolidation with NYSE Member Regulation.

Ms. Walter coordinated policy issues across FINRA and oversaw a number of departments including Investment Company Regulation, Member Education and Training, Investor Education and Emerging Regulatory Issues. She also served on the Board of Directors of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

Prior to joining NASD, Ms. Walter served as the General Counsel of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Before joining the CFTC in 1994, Ms. Walter was the Deputy Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission. She served on the SEC's staff beginning in 1977, both in that Division and in the Office of the General Counsel. Before joining the SEC, Ms. Walter was an attorney with a private law firm.

Ms. Walter is a member of the Academy of Women Achievers of the YWCA of the City of New York and the inaugural class of the ABA's DirectWomen Institute. She also has received, among other honors, the Presidential Rank Award (Distinguished), the SEC Chairman's Award for Excellence, the SEC's Distinguished Service Award, and the Federal Bar Association's Philip Loomis and Manuel F. Cohen Younger Lawyer Awards.

She graduated from Yale University with a B.A., cum laude, in mathematics and received her J.D. degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School. Ms. Walter is married to Ronald Alan Stern, and they have two sons, Jonathan and Evan.

Press accounts frequently describe Schapiro's four years as "bruising"  (e.g. NYTimes, Schapiro, Head of S.E.C., Announces Departure ).  She was charged with the task of restoring the agency's reputation after the Madoff scandal, restoring investor confidence in the securities markets after the financial crisis, and implementing reforms called for in the Dodd-Frank Act.  She is credited with re-invigorating the Enforcement Division, among other accomplishments.  However, she was frequently called to testify at Congressional oversight hearings that questioned the agency's competence on various issues, and an important SEC rule on proxy access was thrown out by the D.C. Circuit for insufficient analysis of the costs of the rule.  Most recently, the Commission was unable to reach consensus on additional regulation of money market funds.

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