On November 5, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the appointment of Nicole Creola Kelly as Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.
Kelly, who goes by Cree, has more than 20 years experience at the SEC and currently serves as Senior Special Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel. According to the SEC press release, her other previous roles include “Counsel to former SEC Chair Mary Jo White, Counsel to former SEC Commissioner Kara M. Stein, and 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 S. Grewal, the SEC’s Director of Enforcement. “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.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to work once again with the talented and dedicated staff of the Office of the Whistleblower,” stated Kelly. “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.”
The Office of the Whistleblower administers the SEC’s highly successful whistleblower program, which offers both monetary awards and anti-retaliation protections to individuals who voluntarily provide original information about securities law violations to the agency. Since issuing its first award in 2012, the SEC has awarded approximately $1.1 billion to 224 individuals.
Pasquinelli took over as Acting Chief of the Office of the Whistleblower in April 2021 following the departure of longtime Chief Jane Norberg. Norberg’s tenure was praised by whistleblower advocates such as Stephen M. Kohn, whistleblower attorney at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, who stated that “Jane Norberg has done a spectacular job running the SEC’s highly successful Whistleblower Office. Under her leadership the SEC developed a world-class whistleblower program,” Kohn, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Whistleblower Center, continued. “It is a model for other agencies, both in the United States and internationally, to follow.”
Nicole Creola Kelly Named Chief of SEC Whistleblower Office