SEC names new leader for unit that reviews SPACS, climate rules

Law professor Renee Jones will run the agency's division of corporation finance, making her the first Black woman to lead one of the SEC's four major divisions.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler’s leadership team is taking shape with law professor Renee Jones being tapped to run the unit that reviews blank-check companies and will work on rules for corporations’ climate disclosures.

Jones, who taught at Boston College Law School, will head the SEC’s division of corporation finance, according to a statement Monday. Her appointment is a departure from the agency’s typical practice of naming a corporate lawyer to run the unit, which examines filings for initial public offerings and SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies. Jones is also the first Black woman to lead one of the SEC’s four major divisions.

“Her leadership will be invaluable as the division facilitates disclosure under our current rules and undertakes rule modernization to meet the challenges of today,” Gensler said in the statement.

Under Gensler, the SEC is expected to adopt regulations dictating what companies must tell shareholders about how a warming planet affects their bottom lines. Implementing the rules is likely to be a key part of Jones’s tenure.

The SEC also announced that John Coates, who has been serving as acting head of corporation finance, will become the agency’s new general counsel. Under Coates, the division stepped up scrutiny of SPACs, which have sold shares at a record pace over the past year.