The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has a new leader, Erica Y. Williams, after the new chair of audit firm overseer was sworn in Monday by the Securities and Exchange Commission in a virtual ceremony.
Williams is one of four new board members to be installed in recent months after SEC chair Gary Gensler effectively ousted three of the board members, including former board member William Duhnke, last year after the board came under criticism for not doing enough to regulate the accounting profession and meet with outside stakeholders like investors (see story). Williams, a former SEC official, was appointed last November, along with Christina Ho, Kara Stein and Anthony Thompson (see story). Stein and Thompson were sworn in back in November as well. The only board member who has continued to serve on the PCAOB is Duane DesParte, who has been acting chair since Duhnke’s departure.
Williams’ initial term will run through Oct. 24, 2024. She is joining the PCAOB from the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she was a litigation partner. Previously, she was a special assistant and associate counsel to President Barack Obama, advising Obama and his senior advisors on legal and constitutional issues involving economic policy, financial regulation and reform, financial technology, trade, intellectual property, and data protection and privacy.
Before that, she spent 11 years at the SEC as deputy chief of staff for three SEC chairs. While there, she oversaw different aspects of the SEC’s operations and was a senior legal advisor to the SEC chair on regulatory policy and rulemakings, enforcement, compliance examinations, agency management and strategy. Earlier in her career, she was assistant chief litigation counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement Trial Unit.
“In our dynamic and evolving capital markets, the PCAOB’s mission to protect investors and further the public interest is extremely important,” Williams said in a statement. “I am honored to take up this mission and to lead this organization’s dedicated, talented staff. Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to build trust through robust oversight and engagement.”
“On behalf of all of my PCAOB colleagues, I offer sincere thanks to board member DesParte for his steady leadership as acting chairperson,” Williams added. “I look forward to working with Duane and my other fellow board members as we continue the critical work of the PCAOB.”