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Dennis Kelleher
President and Chief Executive Officer

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Dennis M. Kelleher is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Better Markets, Inc., a Washington, D.C. based independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes the economic security, opportunity and prosperity of the American people by advocating for the public interest in the US and global financial markets and by fighting for a stable, balanced financial system that supports the real economy and rising living standards.

He joined Better Markets after three decades of experience in the public, private, political, charitable and non-profit sectors. He has been profiled in the New York Times (“Facing Down the Bankers”), Congressional Quarterly (“Influencers: Dodd-Frank Defender”), Wealth Management (“Ten to Watch 2016: The Watchdog”), Brandeis Magazine (“Wall Street Watchdog Growls and Bites”), on PBS (“Braking the Banks”), among other places. He was also featured in Frontline’s award-winning inside story of the global financial crisis (“Money, Power and Wall Street”), as well as in the German, French and other public television documentaries on the global financial and economic collapse.

He has held several senior staff positions in the United States Senate, most recently as the Chief Counsel and Senior Leadership Advisor to the Chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Previously, he was a Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel to a Senate Committee as well as a Legislative Director for a senior member of the Senate. Mr. Kelleher was also a litigation partner with the international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he had a U.S. and European practice specializing in the securities and financial markets as well as corporate conduct/misconduct.

Mr. Kelleher is an internationally sought expert on financial reform, financial markets, economics, regulation, legal issues, and their intersection with political matters. In addition to testifying in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, he also speaks frequently in the US and Europe on these matters at conferences, seminars and symposiums as well as on all media platforms. He is a regular guest on the network news shows, PBS, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Fox, Fox Business News, MSNBC, BBC, C-Span and NPR. He is often quoted in the New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, American Banker, Bloomberg, AP, Reuters, The Economist, Roll Call, Politico, The Hill, Die Zeit, Le Monde, and many other domestic and international print and on line publications.

Mr. Kelleher also served four years of active duty enlisted service in the Air Force as a crash/rescue firefighter/medic, which preceded his graduation with highest honors from Brandeis University and with honors from Harvard Law School. 

Michael W. Masters
Founder & Chairman of the Board

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Mr. Masters’ growing concern for the far-reaching harmful effects of unregulated derivatives markets inspired him to establish Better Markets in 2010 to promote transparency, accountability and oversight in the domestic and global capital and commodity markets.  With deep expertise in U.S. policymaking, legislative processes, economic research and analysis and financial management, Better Markets board members and staff consult and advise regulators in the U.S., the U.K. and Asia on financial reform issues.

Stephen W. Hall
Legal Director and Securities Specialist

Mr. Hall has extensive experience in securities and commodities regulation acquired through positions in the Federal government, private practice, and the nonprofit sector.

In 2010, he served as Senior Counsel to the Committee on Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives.  During the Conference leading to passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Mr. Hall worked on the titles dealing with securities and derivatives.  He also handled other legislative initiatives relating to securities, including corporate governance, limited offering exemptions, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Securities Investor Protection Act.   

From 2001 through 2009, Mr. Hall served as Counsel to the North American Securities Administrators Association, Inc., the association of state securities regulators.  He supported all aspects of NASAA’s mission, including regulatory analysis, appellate advocacy, and enforcement.  His written work included over 15 amicus briefs addressing a wide range of investor protection issues arising under State and Federal securities law, including four briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Steve also advised NASAA on corporate governance and transactional matters.

During the 1990s, Mr. Hall worked in private practice, handling civil litigation in the areas of real estate, banking, and insurance.  He also represented local banks in documenting and closing commercial real estate loans.   

Mr. Hall began his legal career at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where he became Senior Trial Attorney and Associate Director of Enforcement.  At the CFTC, he specialized in bringing injunctive actions in federal court against fraudulent commodity sales operations.

Mr. Hall is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and he received his law degree from Georgetown University.

Kimberly Thomas
Director of Administration and Human Resources

Ms. Thomas has over 15 years of experience in the executive level administrative field.

Before coming to the organization, Ms. Thomas worked at the National Quality Forum, where she served at the Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Performance Measures. While there, Ms. Thomas collaborated in writing an article for a peer review publication and performed literature reviews of clinical and social research publications.

Ms. Thomas served as the office manager of a consulting firm in Greenbelt, MD. In this role, Ms. Thomas oversaw daily operations of the office, supervised staff and trained office personnel.

Ms. Thomas is a graduate of University of Maryland University College, where she earned her degree in Communications with a minor in Business Management.

Jeremy Bratt
Director of External Affairs

Jeremy Bratt is the Director of External Affairs at Better Markets, where he works to strengthen relationships with allies in the non-profit and business sectors, and to promote the work of Better Markets before Congress and regulatory agencies. 
Mr. Bratt has extensive background in public policy and government relations, with more than 15 years of experience in Congress and the Executive Branch. Before joining Better Markets, Mr. Bratt was a political appointee at the Department of the Interior, where he served as the Deputy Director of Congressional and Legislative Affairs. Prior to serving in the Obama Administration, he worked in the United States Senate, where he served as the Legislative Director for Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota.  Mr. Bratt also worked in a senior staff position on the House Agriculture Committee, which has oversight over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and its regulation of the derivatives market. 
Mr. Bratt holds a BA from Augustana College.

Thomas Ferguson
Senior Fellow

Thomas Ferguson currently serves as Director of Research Projects at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.  He has authored or coauthored several books and his articles have appeared in many scholarly journals, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Economic History.

Laura Zylstra
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Development

Laura Zylstra brings over two decades of comprehensive national and international fundraising experience to her role as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Development. She has expertise in annual fund development, strategic planning and international new market entry.
Prior to joining Better Markets, Laura served in leadership roles at the League of Women Voters, Fonkoze and Habitat for Humanity International. Laura also operated her own consulting practice for eight years, serving organizations such as the United Nations World Food Program USA, UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), WWF, SHRM and Meridian International Center. She has designed and led numerous trainings on fundraising in the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America, and is a co-author of the book, "Building Strong Nonprofits, New Strategies for Growth and Sustainability" (John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
Laura serves on the board of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, and is a former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals DC Chapter. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relatio

Robert W. Jenkins, FSIP
Senior Fellow

He is a former banker, fund manager and regulator.  He is currently a teacher, board director and public policy advocate. Mr. Jenkins was a senior executive at CitiGroup where he ran the bank’s trading and sales activities in Dubai, Bahrain, Switzerland and Japan.  He followed these 16 years on the “sell side” with a further 18 years on the “buy side.”  He headed the asset management activities of Credit Suisse in Japan and served as CEO and then Chair of F&C Asset Management.  Prior to his appointment at the Bank of England, he was CEO and Partner of Combinatorics Capital, a NY-based hedge fund.

Mr. Jenkins Chaired the Investment Management Association of the UK, the trade body for the investment industry. He co-Chaired the Chancellor’s task force on the “Future of the UK investment Industry” and served on the UK’s Takeover Panel. From 2011to 2013, he served as a founding member of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Finance at London Business School, Senior Advisor to CVC Capital Partners, a Governor of the CFA Institute, and a non-executive Director of the Aberdeen All Asia Investment Trust. He attended university in the US, France and Italy.

Nick Jacobs
Communications Director

Nick Jacobs is the Communications Director of Better Markets. As the Communications Director, he manages daily media and outreach activities, identifying visibility opportunities and advancing the Better Markets mission and message. 

Mr. Jacobs has worked on a broad range of issues in the financial areas, having most recently served as Communications Director for the FACT Coalition. While there, he generated media coverage of corporate tax avoidance issues, corporate inversions, and the use of tax havens. Prior to that he worked primarily on consumer finance issues, running a financial education program at the American Bankruptcy Institute, and working on behalf of community-based credit and mortgage counselors at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Mr. Jacobs also spent a decade working in national politics, working at different times for media and general political consulting firms, and as a spokesperson for one of the national political parties. 

Mr. Jacobs received a B.A. in Government and Legal Studies from Bowdoin College and a Master’s in Producing for Film and Video from American University.

Lev Bagramian
Senior Securities Policy Advisor

Mr. Bagramian is a Senior Securities Policy Advisor at Better Markets. He brings a comprehensive understanding of legislative processes and Congressional oversight of financial industry and regulatory agencies, and a nuanced understanding of the most effective methods of providing actionable insight. 

Between 2009 and 2013, Mr. Bagramian assisted two Senate Banking Committee Chairmen, Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Tim Johnson (D-SD), on securities and other policy matters. Notably, Mr. Bagramian assisted in the drafting and passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s securities and investor protection sections, and later the oversight of the implementation of dozens of new rules mandated by the Act. 

Prior to joining Better Markets, Mr. Bagramian was the Manager of Legislative Affairs at the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, solely responsible for developing and executing its Congressional and Administration policy and strategic goals while advising MSRB’s Board of Directors and Senior Leadership in fulfilling MSRB’s Congressional mandate of investor and issuer protection. 

Mr. Bagramian is a graduate of Columbia University with a dual-major in Economics and Political Science.

Benoit Lallemand
Senior Advisor for European Affairs

Mr. Lallemand identifies existing or emerging issues and matters within Europe that overlap with or relate to U.S. regulatory matters. Mr. Lallemand is an expert in market infrastructure, asset servicing and data reporting. He has ten years' experience in the clearing and settlement industry, most recently as senior internal consultant at Euroclear. He has also roots in the NGO world as a founding-member of ATTAC-Bruxelles.

Jessica Ault
Program and Records Manager

Jessica Ault is the Program and Records Manager of Better Markets.  Ms. Ault originally joined Better Markets in November 2010 as the Researcher and left in July 2014 to obtain a Masters of Library Science from the University of Maryland. During her original tenure, Ms. Ault facilitated research projects on financial institutions, regulatory agencies, media coverage, and legislation.

While earning her masters, Ms. Ault was a Graduate Assistant at the University of Maryland. In that role, she created a strategic plan for communications, developed content for iSchool website, and planned special events.  She also served as the President of the American Library Association Student Chapter.

Prior to joining Better Markets in 2010, Ms. Ault served as a Legislative Correspondent for the office of Senator Byron Dorgan. There she managed requests for information from constituents about issues including taxes, banking, social security, and Indian affairs.

Ms. Ault earned her undergraduate degree in English, History-Political Science and Communication at Jamestown College.  While in school, Ms. Ault was a member of Lambda Pi Eta - Communication Honor Society and Alpha Mu Gamma – Foreign Language Honor Society. 

Riker Vermilye
Congressional Relations Manager

Mr. Vermilye is the Congressional Relations Manager at Better Markets. He helps communicate multiple viewpoints on a variety of complex issues to different stakeholders, including the Congressional and Executive Branches, advocacy and policy groups, and industry representatives.
Prior to joining Better Markets, Mr. Vermilye was the legislative assistant for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs. While there, he provided research, analysis and support to senior staff in various areas including securities and market structure issues and rules; FSOC asset manager designations and capital formation issues; sanctions, terror financing and remittance issues; and coin and currency issues.
Previously, Mr. Vermilye interned for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where he supported preparations for the Senate floor debate of the New START Treaty; and for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where he helped identify jurisdictional conflicts for the Committee, followed legislation, and tracked statutory amendments.
In 2009, Mr. Vermilye interned for Oxfam in Hong Kong, China, serving under the Policy, Campaigns, and Communications Unit and the International Programme Unit. His work included creating resource kits on fair trade products, production, and labeling to assist potential fair trade producers within Oxfam Hong Kong’s reach.
Mr. Vermilye attended Ohio Wesleyan University as an international business major, and graduated from Southern Methodist University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in economics with a focus on international development and a minor in history.

Jeremy Murphy

Jeremy Murphy is the Researcher of Better Markets. Joining in October of 2016, Mr. Murphy facilitates research projects and provides support to the communications team.

Prior to working at Better Markets. Mr. Murphy received his Master’s in Communication from San Diego State University. As a graduate teaching instructor, Mr. Murphy taught communication courses, provided organizational management to the Society of Communication and Leadership, and coached the SDSU Speech and Debate team. During his time in San Diego, Mr. Murphy worked closely with a myriad of small businesses and nonprofits, with issues ranging from homelessness to food security. 

Mr. Murphy also received a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism from Illinois State University. During his undergraduate career, Mr. Murphy served as President for the Illinois State Forensics Union, a nationally ranked Speech and Debate team. He also reported for the ISU student-run television station, TV-10. 

Past Employees of Better Markets

Caitlin Kline

Caitlin Kline was the Derivatives Specialist at Better Markets, Inc., specializing in derivatives, commodities and market structure. She left Better Markets to join the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Prior to joining Better Markets, Ms. Kline dedicated her time to financial regulatory reform, including drafting comment letters in response to proposed rulemakings by the SEC, the CFTC and banking regulators. From 2005 to 2011, Ms. Kline worked for Credit Suisse where she was a flow and structured credit derivatives trader in the Emerging Markets Group. In 2004 and 2005, prior to her work on the trading desk, Ms. Kline was an analyst with Credit Suisse's Fixed Income Index and Analytics group.

Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips was the Attorney at Better Markets. Currently he is Counsel and Policy Advisor to Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Prior to joining Better Markets, Mr. Phillips worked at the Office of Financial Research within the Department of Treasury, where he served as the Program Assistant. During his time there, Mr. Phillips provided legal research for the Chief of Counsel on issues regarding the implementation of the Global Legal Entity Identifier system as well as other legal research. In the past two years, Mr. Philips also served as a law clerk at the Office of the General Counsel within the Antitrust Division at Department of Justice in addition to the Office of Senator Carl Levin and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. His tasks ranged from conducting research and writing memos on certain issues to assisting in witness interviews and expert briefings. Mr. Phillips is a graduate of Arizona State University, Barrett Honors College. He received his law degree from University of Michigan Law School.

Jesse Medalia Strauss

Mr. Strauss was the Digital Communications Associate at Better Markets. Currently he is a freelance video producer/editor in Washington, DC. Mr. Strauss grew up in New York City where he developed a passion for filmmaking, digital media, storytelling, and advocacy. Among other things, during his undergraduate years, he directed and edited a feature length documentary on income inequality called ‘Our Shining City. Mr. Strauss is a graduate of American University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Arts and his master’s degree in Political Communication.

Katelynn Bradley

Katelynn Bradley was the Attorney at Better Markets, Inc. She currently works as Senior Counsel for the House Committee on Financial Services for Ranking Member Maxine Waters. Before joining Better Markets, Ms. Bradley worked for a Washington, D.C. law firm where she supported a securities litigation practice.  During law school, she completed a full-year externship at the Division of Trading and Markets of the SEC, assisting with the rulemaking process under Titles VII and VIII of the Dodd-Frank Act. She also served as an extern to the Office of the Attorney General for the State of North Carolina, representing state agencies such as the Commissioner of Banks. Ms. Bradley graduated from the University of North Carolina and received her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Marc Jarsulic

Marc Jarsulic was the Chief Economist at Better Markets, Inc. He is currently the Vice President for Economic Policy at Center for American Progress. He has extensive experience in economic policy research and market regulation. From 2009 to 2011, Dr. Jarsulic was Chief Economist for the Democratic staff of the Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs. During that time, he played a key role in drafting the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. He also served as Deputy Staff Director and Chief Economist for the Democratic staff of the congressional Joint Economic Committee during 2007-2009, where he led a team that undertook one of the first studies of the subprime mortgage crisis prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Between 1998 and 2007, Dr. Jarsulic practiced law, serving as senior risk advisor in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Risk Assessment and practiced antitrust law at the Federal Trade Commission. Until 1998, he was Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame.  He has a Ph.D. in Economics (Pennsylvania) and a J.D. (Michigan).  Dr. Jarsulic’s publications include Anatomy of a Financial Crisis: A Real Estate Bubble, Runaway Credit Markets, and Regulatory Failure (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

David Frenk

David Frenk was the Research Director at Better Markets, Inc.  He now works as a Consultant. Mr. Frenk has significant experience in financial markets, and has had extensive training in statistical analysis and other formal mathematical techniques. Since 2009, Mr. Frenk has coordinated research into the study of how the commodity markets and capital markets function. He has met with representatives of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and U.K. Financial Services Authority (FSA), as well as members of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives to discuss these topics. He has lectured in the United States and his native United Kingdom on market structure and function and on regulatory frameworks. Mr. Frenk has co-authored, with Michael W. Masters, two papers,Anthropic Finance: How Markets Function,and Balanced Markets: The Social Role of Markets. He wrote The Price of Speculation, an article that was featured in the June 2010 issue of Oil & Energy Magazine, and was the lead author of the widely cited Review of Irwin and Sanders OECD Reports 2010. Prior to joining Better Markets, Mr. Frenk worked in both the private and public sectors on a range of business and policy issues. He was a consultant to the Rwandan government on economic strategy and policy. He also worked at OECD’s Center for Education Research and Innovation as a consultant on education policy across Europe.  In addition, Mr. Frenk was a full-time researcher at Masters Capital Research, coordinating theoretical and empirical analyses of markets and trading strategies. Mr. Frenk studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University before completing his graduate studies in Philosophy at New York University.  At both institutions, he was the recipient of numerous academic awards and scholarships.

Wallace C. Turbeville

Wallace C. Turbeville was the Derivatives Specialist at Better Markets, Inc., specializing in derivatives and market structures.  He is now a Senior Fellow at Demos, a national non-partisan think tank. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University (B.A., 1974) and Vanderbilt Law School (J.D., 1977). Upon receiving his law degree, he practiced law in the finance field for seven years at Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Ferdon, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae. Mr. Turbeville joined Goldman, Sachs & Co. in 1985 as a Vice President in the Public Finance Department.  In 1990, he became Co-Head of the European Structured Finance Group in London, focusing primarily on energy and transportation. He returned to New York in 1995 as a senior member of the Infrastructure Group, a joint venture between the Investment Banking and Fixed Income Divisions.

In 1997, Mr. Turbeville founded the Kensington Group as its Managing Partner. The firm focused on financial advisory services and private equity investment in domestic and international energy, environmental and telecommunications sectors. Mr. Turbeville became Chief Executive Officer of VMAC LLC in late 2002. He led the development of an innovative business model for the post-trade management of credit exposures in over-the-counter derivatives transactions, adapting many of the characteristics of traditional clearing for initial application in the OTC energy markets. Mr. Turbeville left VMAC in late 2009 to devote his efforts to financial reform, energy and environmental policy issues. Prior to joining Better Markets in October 2010, he published nearly 30 articles concerning financial reform, energy, the environment and political opinion.

Richard Maurano

Richard Maurano was the External Affairs Specialist at Better Markets, Inc. He is now retired. Mr. Maurano has 30 years of executive leadership experience as a senior level staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services with an instrumental role in the development of housing and financial policy throughout this period. From 2008 to 2010, he worked for the U.S. House of Representatives as the Director of Legislative Affairs, Committee on Financial Services. During this time, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act. From 1999 through 2007, Mr. Maurano worked for the Fannie Mae Corporation as a Director in the Government and Industry Relations department, where he was able to develop and nurture professional relationships with members of Congress and staff of relevant legislative committees. From 1975 through 1989, Mr. Maurano served in various positions within the U.S. House of Representatives.  In 1989, he became the Deputy Democratic Staff Director for the Committee on Banking and Financial Services for the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Maurano is a graduate of Providence College and earned his Master’s degree from Rhode Island College.

Vanessa Vaquerano

Vanessa Vaquerano was the Staff Assistant at Better Markets, Inc. She currently works at a law firm as a Legal Administrative Assistant. Before coming to Better Markets, Inc., Ms. Vaquerano was the Temporary Editor Assistant at the Pan American Health Organization.  While there, her main tasks included the editing and formatting of documents for web publication and official use during meetings. Ms. Vaquerano is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University.  Ms. Vaquerano received her degree in Political Science, with a concentration in Public Policy and Administration.