Mary Jo White ’74
Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton
Former Chair, United States Securities and Exchange Commission
Mary Jo White is a litigation partner and senior chair at Debevoise & Plimpton, where she counsels boards of directors and represents clients in high-profile matters, including crises involving multi-faceted government investigations and cases.
White also has a distinguished record of public service, having just completed a nearly four-year term as chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and previously serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the nation’s premier U.S. Attorney’s Office, for almost nine years.
Under her leadership as SEC chair, from 2013 to 2017, the commission significantly enhanced its enforcement program and strengthened protections for investors and the markets through transformative initiatives designed to address a wide range of issues exposed by the financial crisis. During her tenure, the SEC initiated more than 2,850 enforcement actions and achieved record financial recoveries.
White served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 2002, the only woman to hold the top position in that office’s more than 200-year history. She oversaw major prosecutions of white-collar crime, organized crime, and international terrorism. Her work included the successful prosecutions of those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Day of Terror Plot, the Manila Air Plot, and the indictment of Osama bin Laden for his role in the 1998 East African embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
White has also gained prominence as a premier white-collar lawyer at Debevoise, where she previously served as a litigation partner from 1983 to 1990 and as chair of the litigation department from 2002 to 2013.
White has been recognized by The National Law Journal as one of the “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America,” and she is a recipient of numerous honors, including the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Distinction in Public Service, the George W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the Magnificent 7 Award of the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation/USA, and the Women of Power and Influence Award from the National Organization of Women. She has also been named one of the “World’s Most Powerful Women” by Forbes.
White graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in psychology from the College of William & Mary. She also earned an M.A. in psychology from The New School for Social Research, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was an officer of the Columbia Law Review.