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Mary Schapiro: The woman who ‘saved the SEC’

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The head of the government’s financial regulation agency is stepping down next month. 

Mary Schapiro, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced today that she will leave her position after almost four years of service. Schapiro was one of several high ranking bureaucrats widely expected to leave ahead of President Barack Obama’s second term. 

In early 2009, Schapiro became the first woman SEC chair. She’s been central not only in pursuing those who contributed to the financial crisis, but also in crafting regulations to prevent the next one.

According to Jim Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown, Schapiro had a unique knowledge of the bureaucratic system and of politics.

“When Mary Schapiro arrived as chairman of the SEC, the agency was in the dog house. They had flubbed Madoff, they had flubbed the financial crisis. The SEC was on chopping block,” says Jim Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown. 

But, Angel says, Schapiro was able to utilize her political talent and system know-how to regain the trust of Congress, save the SEC, and secure its reputation and funding. 

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