Back to Officials


Name: Schapiro, Mary
Current Position: Former Chair
Mary L. Schapiro, Barack Obama’s choice to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, has taken over a demoralized agency that failed repeatedly to head off financial disasters involving Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Bernard Madoff. Some observers consider Schapiro an experienced regulator who can’t help but do a better job than her George W. Bush-appointed predecessors, while others argue that having been a regulator the last few years is nothing to be proud of, and expect her to be a fox guarding the chicken coop.
One of four children, Schapiro was born on June 19, 1955, and grew up in Babylon, New York. Her father, Robert, was a printer and then ran an antiques shop. Her mother, Sue, a college librarian, is a cousin of the late Terry Sanford, who served as North Carolina’s Democratic senator and governor. Schapiro graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. In 1980 she earned a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University.
Following law school, Schapiro worked as a trial attorney for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), eventually rising to counsel and executive assistant to chair Susan Phillips. She then left government and became vice president and counsel for the Futures Industry Association (FIA) in 1984, where she lobbied on behalf of merchants represented by FIA.
President Ronald Reagan chose Schapiro as a recess appointment in 1988 to fill one of two Democratic seats on the Securities and Exchange Commission. President George H. W. Bush reappointed her to the position in 1989, followed by President Bill Clinton selecting her to serve as acting chairman of the SEC for two months. Clinton then chose Schapiro to be chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1994.
In 1996, she left the CFTC—much to the delight of derivatives traders who complained of Schapiro’s expanded regulatory efforts—and became president of regulation for the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). In charge of a new division, she joined NASD following a period of controversy over the association’s poor policing of traders in the Nasdaq stock market. She was promoted to vice chairman of NASD in 2002, and in 2006 she became NASD’s chairman and CEO. In this role she oversaw the association’s consolidation with NYSE Member Regulation to form the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a nongovernmental, self-regulatory body for the securities industry. In 2006, as president of regulatory policy and oversight, she received compensation and benefits worth $2 million.
Since 1999, Schapiro has been a member of the board of directors of Duke Energy, which provides electricity to 4 million customers in the Midwest and the Carolinas, and natural gas in Ohio and Kentucky.  She has also been a director of Kraft Foods since 2001. Schapiro also serves on the RAND Corporation’s LRN-RAND Center for Corporate Ethics, Law and Governance Advisory Board, and is a trustee of her alma mater, Franklin & Marshall College. In January 2008, President Bush appointed Schapiro to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.
Among the questions that may arise at Schapiro’s confirmation hearing are those related to her decision in 2001 to appoint Mark Madoff, son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, to the board of the National Adjudicatory Council, the national committee that reviews initial decisions rendered in FINRA disciplinary and membership proceedings.
Some believe that Schapiro will push to merge her old agency, the CFTC, with her new one. Back in 1990, while serving on the board of the SEC, Schapiro publicly advocated for just such a move.
S.E.C. Choice is Sued Over a Merger of Regulators (by Stephen Labaton, New York Times)
Bookmark and Share