The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday announced the appointment of Erica Williams to serve as chairperson of the newly overhauled Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).
Williams will be joined by Kara Stein, Christina Ho, and Anthony Thompson as fresh faces comprising the five-member PCAOB. Duane DesParte, currently the acting chair of the organization, will remain in the role before resuming his tenure as a board member once Williams is sworn in.
The PCAOB regulates audits of public companies and brokers and dealers through registration, standard-setting, inspection, and disciplinary programs. Under Sarbanes-Oxley, the SEC selects members and the chair, with the only requirement being that two members must be or have been certified public accountants.
For the last month, DesParte has served as the lone member of the PCAOB. His colleagues have cleared out since the SEC in June announced it would overhaul the entire structure of the Board after first removing William Duhnke III as chair.
Though SEC Chair Gary Gensler never provided a reason for the move, Duhnke was a popular target of Democratic criticism that heightened upon his being the subject of a discrimination lawsuit filed by the PCAOB’s former chief risk officer, Sue Lee, in April.
Indications in June were that DesParte also would be replaced, though Gensler said in a press release Monday he is “pleased that he will stay on as a key member of the Board.” DesParte’s term expires in October 2023.
Williams will join the PCAOB from law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where she is a litigation partner. Previously, she worked more than a decade in various roles at the SEC, including as deputy chief of staff to three former chairs and assistant chief litigation counsel in the Division of Enforcement trial unit. She also served former President Barack Obama as a special assistant and associate counsel focused on financial and economic policy issues.
Stein was an SEC commissioner from 2013-19. She currently serves as a distinguished policy fellow and lecturer-in-law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and is director of the AI, Data, and Capital Markets Initiative at the Center for Innovation at University of California Hastings Law.
Ho brings nearly 30 years’ experience in areas including finance, accounting, and data analysis, most recently serving as vice president of government analytics and innovation at Elder Research. She previously worked in senior positions at the Treasury Department, including as deputy assistant secretary for financial transparency and accounting policy, and as controller and interim chief financial officer for the University of Maryland, College Park.
Thompson currently serves as the executive director and chief administrative officer of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which he joined in 2011. He previously served the U.S. Air Force for 32 years, including as chief budget officer for the services branch and chief financial officer at multiple bases.
The SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant spearheaded the process of recruiting the new board members. “I look forward to working with this new Board to further the PCAOB’s vital mission,” stated Acting Chief Accountant Paul Munter.
In 2017, the SEC, under the leadership of then-Chair Jay Clayton, similarly overhauled the PCAOB. The appointment of five new members then included Duhnke and DesParte.