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Photo: SEC

Former Chairman, United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, DC

Haniel Distinguished Visitor - Class of Fall 2004

Mary Jo White is an American attorney who served as the thirty-first Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, from 2013 to 2017. She was the first woman to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, serving from 1993 to 2002.On January 24, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated White to replace Elisse B. Walter as Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.


White was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in McLean, Virginia. She studied at the College of William and Mary, graduating in 1970, and received her MA in psychology in 1971 from The New School for Social Research. She received her law degree from Columbia Law School in 1974. She became Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in December 1992, and, in March 1993, was appointed by President Bill Clinton as US Attorney for the Southern District. She oversaw the prosecutions of John Gotti and the terrorists responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, among them Ramzi Yousef. After Clinton’s controversial last day presidential pardons, she was appointed by new Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate Marc Rich’s pardon.


Since 2003, White has been Chair of the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton. She is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and was named to the National Law Journal’s 2002 list of Top 10 Woman Litigators. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. White has received numerous awards and honorary degrees for her professional accomplishments, including the George W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the Agency Seal Medallion from the CIA, and the Director of the FBI’s Jefferson Cup Award for Contributions to the Rule of Law in the Fight Against Terrorism and Crime.

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