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Lawyer Sharon Y. Bowen was born on July 23, 1956, in Chesapeake, Virginia to Leverta Wilson Bowen and Allen Dosher Bowen, Sr. In 1978, she received her B.S. degree in economics from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1982, Bowen went on to receive both her M.B.A. degree and her J.D. degrees from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Northwestern University School of Law, respectively.
After graduation, Bowen was hired as a corporate attorney at the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardell in New York City. In 1988, she joined Latham & Watkins as a senior corporate associate and was named a partner in 1991. Bowen’s practice areas included finance and securities transactions, private equity, securitizations, restructurings, leveraged finance, distressed asset acquisitions and venture capital financings. At Latham, she co-chaired the firm’s diversity committee, co-chaired the firm’s diversity hiring subcommittee and co-founded the firm’s Women Enriching Business (WEB) Task Force. Bowen was appointed by President Barack Obama as vice chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) in 2010. She was promoted as acting chair in 2012. In 2014, Bowen was sworn in as a Commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), becoming the first African American to hold this position, where she oversaw the CFTC Market Risk Advisory Committee for three years.
Bowen served as a member of the Boards of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc., the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and Public Education Needs Civil Involvement in Learning (PENCIL). She also served as a member of the Boards of Bakkt Trust, Neuberger Berman and Akami Technologies. Bowen served on the Board of the Intercontinental Exchange; and, in 2021, was named chair of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange, making her the first African American female to hold this position.
Bowen received the 2011 Diversity Trailblazer Award from the New York State Bar Association. In 2006 she was selected as the Metropolitan Black Bar Association Lawyer of the Year. In 2007, Bowen was named the New York City Bar Association Diversity Champion. She was inducted into the Futures Industry Association Hall of Fame in 2022.
Sharon Y. Bowen was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 12, 2022.