The appointment of finance and securities lawyer Sharon Bowen as chair of the New York Stock Exchange makes her the first Black woman to hold the position. Since December 2017 Bowen has been a member of the board of directors of Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., NYSE’s parent company.
Bowen’s appointment was announced earlier this month on Dec. 6 just as ICE revealed changes in its senior leadership. ICE is a Fortune 500 company operating through a network of global futures, equity, and options exchanges. The company also provides global clearing and data services throughout the financial and commodity markets.
The NYSE is noted as being the largest stock exchange in the world, boasting 2400 listed companies and $36 trillion in capitalization. The NYSE specializes in capital raising, stock listings and equities trading.
“When a handful of colleagues and I founded ICE over twenty years ago, our simple idea was to make trading more automated and transparent, and that purpose anchored our original leaders as we grew exponentially, and their duties grew along with the firm,” ICE founder Jeff Sprecher said in a statement. “Now with a market capitalization of over $70 billion, and a substantially transformed company from our origins, it’s more important than ever to challenge our leaders to take on new tasks and acquire new skills as we serve a new and ever-evolving marketplace.”
Besides serving on the ICE board of directors of the organization, in April Bowen filled a vacancy on the Akamai Technologies board of directors. The seat was a newly created position, allowing Bowen to bring her expertise as an attorney with a specialization in finance and securities.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I join Akamai’s board,” Bowen said in a statement at the time. “Akamai plays a vital role in maintaining a reliable and secure internet. I look forward to contributing to its future success at this critical moment in history.”
In 2010, Bowen was appointed as vice-chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation by President Barack Obama. And in 2014, she became the first Black American appointed as a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
In addition to her appointments, Bowen’s professional career as a business attorney spans 30 years. She has served as a partner and associate at several law firms and was considered one of the top Black lawyers in the United States. In 2006, she was recognized as Lawyer of the Year at the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.
Bowen has been recognized for her commitment to diversity and inclusion in the finance and legal professions. In 2007, Bowen was named Diversity Champion for the New York City Bar Association, and in 2011 the same organization honored her with the Diversity Trailblazer Award. She has held several board seats as well, advocating for diversity and civic engagement.
Bowen is a native of Virginia and holds a BA in economics from the University of Virginia, a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.