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SEC Women’s History Month Celebration — Introductory Remarks

Chairman Jay Clayton

Washington D.C.

March 8, 2018

Good afternoon.  I would like to thank the Women’s Committee, the Veterans Committee, and the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion for all of their efforts in connection with today’s celebration of National Women’s History Month, which I am honored and happy to share with you.

This month provides us with the opportunity to recognize the contributions of American women throughout our history, including to our communities and to our nation’s industrial and economic advancement.  We celebrate the countless women – known and many unknown – who have served as trailblazers, including in the face of bias.  A few months ago, the New York Stock Exchange honored the 50th anniversary of when Muriel Siebert, known as “Mickie,” became the first woman to purchase a seat on the Exchange.[1]  The obstacles she had to overcome to get that seat in 1967 were substantial.  First she had to find sponsorship.  Nine out of the first 10 men she approached turned her down.  She was then told that the price of her seat was to be $445,000, and that she would be required to get a bank loan for $300,000 of that amount, something that hadn’t been required of previous applicants.  The problem was, no bank would give her a loan without a guarantee that she would be admitted.  After two years, she managed to get the loan and her seat on the Big Board.[2]  

Even then, it was an uphill battle.  Mickie Siebert was the only female member of the Exchange for most of the next 10 years.  During that time, in addition to facing resistance due to her gender, she encountered anti-Semitism.  But she fought, continued to build her own brokerage firm, and paved the way for women in finance.[3]  And for her dogged persistence in the face of adversity, she is often referred to as the First Lady of Wall Street.[4]    

Continuing that theme of persistence, we also celebrate the countless women who have served bravely in every branch of our Armed Forces.  They have done so selflessly, consistently putting the welfare of others before themselves, even when they may have faced conscious or unconscious bias in doing so.  They are role models for us all. 

I am honored to present one such woman as our guest today, General Flora Darpino. General Darpino is a retired three-star Army general who, in September 2013, became the 39th Judge Advocate General of the United States Army and the first female Judge Advocate General in the over 200-year history of the JAG Corps.  In this role, she served the Army as its senior military lawyer, including as the principal legal adviser to the Secretary.  She led a JAG Corps of over 10,000 people, a size twice that of the SEC.

Over the course of her distinguished career, General Darpino filled a wide variety of roles—as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor, a civil defense litigator, the chief of a civil law division, the chief of an administrative law division, the Army JAG Corps Chief Recruiting Officer and the first female assistant executive officer to the Judge Advocate General.  Among other accomplishments, General Darpino also assisted in rebuilding the Iraqi court system after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.[5]

Throughout her career, General Darpino has led the way and been a role model for women in the Army JAG Corps.  As one of many examples, after receiving her LL.M, General Darpino asked for an administrative law assignment in the 101st Airborne Division.  There, she was told that she could receive her assault wings without having to complete the demanding air assault course, because she was a woman.  She was told that the course was built for men, and persons that were taller than she was.  General Darpino would have none of that.  She ignored the waiver, accepted the challenge, and legitimately completed the required air assault obstacle course, earning her air assault wings.[6]

I’ll turn to a personal note.  It is one General Darpino may not know.  Her number two when she was Judge Advocate General – again, our first female Judge Advocate General – was a friend of mine, Major General (Ret.) Tom Ayres.  Tom’s praise matters because it is infrequent – I think I got maybe one “nice job” in all the rugby games we played together – and never overblown.  Tom told me yesterday that Three Star General Darpino was a “great boss” and she and her husband are “great friends.”  That’s getting an A+. 

She also – true to her first name – think about it – loves to garden.  And, if serving your country at the highest level is not enough, General Darpino is a wonderful mother to two grown daughters.

Thank you General Darpino for your leadership and the sacrifices you have made on behalf of our country. 

Please join me in welcoming General Flora Darpino.

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