New School News

The Strong Arm: New School Alumna Confirmed to Lead SEC

Mary Jo White is known for being tough. She has prosecuted accused mobsters, terrorists, and even Donald Trump. Last week, the Senate confirmed the former US Attorney and New School for Social Research alumna as the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Upon nominating her in January, President Obama commented, “You don’t want to mess with Mary Jo.”

White, who graduated with a master’s degree in psychology from NSSR in 1971, is the first former prosecutor to chair the commission. New School president David Van Zandt praised her nomination: “Mary Jo White’s tenacious pursuit of greater fairness and transparency in the financial sector reflects The New School’s commitment to creating a more just society. I enthusiastically congratulate our graduate on her crucial new role at the SEC.”

Since graduating from Columbia Law School in 1974, White has spent nearly her entire career at two elite institutions building an impeccable record—the Department of Justice and the law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton—where she effectively navigated both public and private industry. Her last term with the government was for nine years as the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she is credited for leading what is widely recognized as the premier US Attorney’s office in the nation. As Chair of the litigation department of Debevoise and Plimpton since 2002, she has been praised as “tenacious, tough, and brilliant” by Chambers USA and is recognized for her integrity and professionalism.

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