Mary L. Schapiro

Securities and Exchange Commissioner Chairwoman (since January 2009)

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Why She Matters

A veteran regulator, Schapiro took the reigns of an agency roiled by controversy after its failure to effectively supervise financial institutions' risk strategies leading to the 2008-2009 bank failures and Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

And she moved aggressively and swiftly, restructing and ramping up the beleagured SEC enforcement division, led by her handpicked enforcement chief, Robert Khuzami. Khuzami quickly tackled big names and even went after Goldman Sachs, suing the investment firm for allegedly knowingly selling toxic investments based on subprime mortgages during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (2007 to 2009); CEO of National Association of Securities Dealers (2006 to 2007); President of the NASD (1996 to 2006)
  • Birthday: June 19, 1955.
  • Hometown: New York, N.Y.
  • Alma Mater: Franklin and Marshall, B.A. (anthropology); George Washington University Law School, J.D., 1980
  • Spouse: Charles Cadwell
  • Web site

Path to Power

Schapiro grew up in Babylon, N.Y., in a heavily Democratic family. Her mother's cousin, Terry Sanford, was the Democratic governor of North Carolina from 1961 to 1965 and senator of the Tar Heel state from 1986 to 1993.

As an undergrad at Franklin and Marshall College, Schapiro majored in anthropology, before moving to George Washington University to earn a law degree in 1980.

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The Issues

Schapiro arrived at the SEC at a particularly difficult time for the comparatively smalll agency, which was overshadowed by the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The bigger entities all moved aggressively to cope with the collapse of landmark U.S. companies such as Bear Stearns and American International Group (AIG).

Reacting to the SEC's passivity in response to the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and the Bernard Madoff scandal, some Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, called for a merger of the SEC and the CFTC. As the only person ever to have been a commissioner at the SEC and the CFTC, Schapiro seems well-prepared for what may lie ahead.

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The Network

Schapiro serves on the board of Kraft Foods and Duke Energy. At Kraft, she works with Kraft's CEO Irene Rosenfeld and her former boss at the NASD, Frank Zarb. At Duke Energy, she serves on the board with a variety of influential business leaders that include Duke Energy's CEO James Rogers, former chief financial officer James Hance Jr. and Nucor Corp's CEO Daniel DiMicco. If she takes over the SEC, she will have to give up her board posts.,

During her first run as interim SEC chairwoman, she was replaced by Levitt, and worked with Levitt when she served as CFTC head.


Campaign Contributions

Schapiro has not donated any money to political candidates according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


Additional Resources

  1. Knight, Jerry, "Vowing to Wake Up a Watchdog; CFTC Chairman Bids to Revitalize `Sleepy Little Agency' by Policing Derivatives Market," The Washington Post, Dec. 7, 1994
  2. Goldfarb, Zachary A., The Washington Post, "SEC accuses Goldman Sachs of civil fraud," April 16, 2010
  3. Goldfarb, Zachary A., The Washington Post, "SEC faces setbacks, skepticism in trying to reform its enforcement image," April 6, 2010
  4. Paltrow, Scot J., "SUNDAY PROFILE Mary Schapiro's tough reputation preceded her. But as the new sheriff of the tarnished association that runs Nasdaq, an even tougher job lies ahead for . . . The Enforcer," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 1996
  5. Schapiro, Mary L., "Stronger regulation would help bring financial swaps out of the shadows," The Washington Post, April 2, 2010
  6. Fitzgerald, Alison and Westbrook, Jesse "Schapiro Taking SEC's Reins Shows Regulator Dodged Cox Critics," Bloomberg News, Dec. 19, 2008
  7. Fromson, Brett D., "NASD Unit Vows Wall St. Vigilance; Self-Regulator Says New Powers, Bigger Budget Will Help Its Policing," The Washington Post, Feb. 27, 1997
  8. Duke Energy
  9. Knight, Jerry, "NASD Taps Schapiro To Be Top Regulator; Hiring of CFTC Head Is Part of Restructuring," The Washington Post, Dec. 6, 1995
  10. Kraft Foods
  11. Center for Responsive Politics