The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has appointed Nicole Creola Kelly to be the next chief of its Office of the Whistleblower.
Kelly, who goes by Cree, is currently senior special counsel in the Office of the General Counsel, according to an SEC press release Friday.
She replaces Emily Pasquinelli, who held the role of acting chief of the whistleblower office after being elevated from the post of deputy chief in April following the departure of Jane Norberg. Norberg left the office after leading it since 2016 and later joined D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter as a partner.
Pasquinelli returns to her deputy chief post.
Kelly has more than 20 years of experience with the SEC, having served as counsel to former Chair Mary Jo White and former Commissioner Kara Stein. She also had stints in the Enforcement Division’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit as well as the whistleblower office.
“Cree’s wealth of experience at the SEC makes her well-qualified to serve as chief of the SEC whistleblower office. The whistleblower program has been tremendously valuable, and I look forward to working with Cree on its continued success,” said Gurbir Grewal, the SEC’s director of enforcement, in a statement. “I also would like to thank Emily Pasquinelli for serving as acting chief of the whistleblower office. The enforcement program has benefited enormously from Emily’s steady leadership during this past year.”
Kelly stated, “I am grateful for the opportunity to work once again with the talented and dedicated staff of the Office of the Whistleblower. Over the course of my career, I have witnessed firsthand both the critical impact that whistleblowers can have on our investigations and the many sacrifices they make in shining light on misconduct.”
Kelly has a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and a law degree from Tulane Law School.
She takes over a whistleblower program that has doled out approximately $1.1 billion in awards to 224 individuals since 2012. The office blew away all previous years’ award amounts when it issued more than $500 million in fiscal year 2021, which ended Sept. 30. The previous fiscal year payout record had been just a year before, when the SEC announced $175 million in whistleblower awards.