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Dennis Kelleher
President and Chief Executive Officer

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Mr. Kelleher is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Better Markets. With Mike Masters, Mr. Kelleher co-founded Better Markets after many years of experience in the public, private, political, charitable and non-profit sectors.

At Better Markets, Mr. Kelleher’s leadership requires operating in the legislative, executive and judicial branches simultaneously while developing and driving communications strategies to support those policy efforts, as detailed in Better Markets’ Annual Report.  He has been quoted more than 3,000 times, done more than 140 live TV appearances, participated in more than 225 rulemakings and 25 legal cases, and testified more than ten times.

Less than two years after Better Markets was founded, the New York Times profiled Mr. Kelleher in “Facing Down the Bankers," referring to him as “one of the most powerful lobbyists on financial reform.”  He was also featured in Frontline’s award-winning inside story of the global financial crisis, “Money, Power and Wall Street” and “Braking the Banks” on PBS, as well as in other profiles and documentaries.

Prior to Better Markets, Mr. Kelleher worked for almost eight years in senior staff positions in the United States Senate, including as General Counsel and Deputy Staff Director on the Labor and Human Resources Committee (now known as the HELP Committee) and as Legislative Director and Leadership Advisor to a senior Senator who was also Secretary to the Democratic Caucus. He concluded his service in the Senate as Chief Counsel and Senior Leadership Advisor to the Chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, a member of Senate leadership.  Earlier in his career, Mr. Kelleher was a partner with the international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he had an extensive and broad-ranging U.S. and European practice specializing in crisis management and complex corporate matters that focused on governance, securities and financial markets. 

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. From 20-second soundbites to hour-long discussions, he appears on the network news shows and is a regular guest on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, NPR, MSNBC, PBS, BBC, C-SPAN and Fox Business News. In addition, he is often quoted in the New York Times, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, Die Zeit, Le Monde, The Guardian, and many other domestic and international print and online publications.

Mr. Kelleher 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.

Natalie Shotts
Director of Administration and Human Resources

Natalie Shotts is the Director of Administration and Human Resources. As the Director of Administration and Human Resources, Natalie ensures the daily operations of Better Markets run smoothly and effectively. With more than 15 years in executive administrative and office management positions, Natalie maintains office needs, accounting and manages all human resources functions to support Better Markets’ high-performing team and culture.

Prior to joining Better Markets, Natalie was the office manager at the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to eradicating the life-ending and vicious effects of mesothelioma by funding high-quality research projects. Natalie was responsible for recruiting, accounts payable and overseeing the research grant program.

Natalie received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bloomsburg University where she studied art history and art studio.

Maryan Abdelmesih
Director of Development

Maryan Abdelmesih is the Director of Development at Better Markets, where she is responsible for designing, implementing and managing all Better Markets’ fundraising activities which allows Better Markets’ to achieve its mission and maximize its impact. She brings with her more than six years of fundraising experience.

Most recently, Maryan served as the Director of Development at UNRWA USA, a nonprofit that supports the humanitarian and human development work of UNRWA through fundraising, education, and advocacy. Prior to that, Maryan worked at Global Witness, a non-profit organization that focuses on the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide; and the Bipartisan Policy Center, a non-profit organization that combines the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans by driving principled and politically viable policy solutions through the power of rigorous analysis, painstaking negotiation, and aggressive advocacy.

Maryan graduated in 2012 from Pepperdine University, earning a Masters in Public Policy with a double concentration in economics and international relations and received her Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of California, Riverside where she studied Political Science and Religious Studies.  

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.

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.

Jason Grimes
Senior Counsel

Jason Grimes is Senior Counsel for Better Markets, where he will be contributing to all facets of Better Markets’ legal activities, including research, analysis, and the drafting of amicus briefs, reports, and pleadings that address important topics in financial regulation and reform.

Jason comes to Better Markets from the law firm of Covington & Burling, where he was an Associate, working on compliance issues related to financial regulation, including derivatives and consumer protection laws and prudential regulations.  He also assisted financial institutions with inquiries and investigations by the CFTC, CFPB, and other banking regulators.  Prior to Covington, Jason clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus in the District of Maryland. 

Joseph Cisewski
Senior Derivatives Consultant and Special Counsel

Joseph Cisewski is Senior Derivatives Consultant and Special Counsel to Better Markets, focused primarily on regulatory actions having the potential to affect the derivatives and commodities markets.  He is an authority more broadly on the regulation of securities, derivatives, commodities, and other financial markets, having held several senior positions with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), financial technology companies, and global financial institutions.

Prior to joining Better Markets, Mr. Cisewski was the Global Head of U.S. Securities and Derivatives Advisory within the global banking and markets division of HSBC Bank plc, managing a team of attorneys and other professionals focused on the firm’s interpretations of U.S. law and compliance and controls frameworks.  He also served as a member of a global derivatives advisory and compliance team at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., where he focused on regulatory change initiatives to implement the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”). 

Mr. Cisewski previously served in a number of roles at the CFTC, including as the agency’s Co-Chief of Staff and Co-Chief Operating Officer and separately, as Senior Special Counsel to CFTC Commissioner Mark P. Wetjen during the agency’s implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.  During his time in the Office of the Chairman, Mr. Cisewski also served as the CFTC’s chief deputy to the Financial Stability Oversight Council.  Prior to Commissioner Wetjen’s confirmation, Mr. Cisewski served as the CFTC’s deputy lead counsel for Dodd-Frank rulemakings in the Division of Market Oversight, working with the director and then-Chairman Gary Gensler on final regulations to implement reforms to the derivatives market structure. 

Mr. Cisewski later served as a supervisory attorney and branch chief in the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets, where he managed a team of SEC lawyers focused on the supervision of systemically important clearinghouses.  He began his career as professional staff in the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Division of Financial Markets and Community Investment, focused on consumer protection issues and oversight of the Term Asset-backed Securities Loan Facility and other programs implemented as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. 

Mr. Cisewski attended the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a director of the Georgetown Securities and Financial Law Forum, and graduated from Marquette University Law School.  He previously attended the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, where he received his Master of Arts in Economics and his Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, in Economics and History.  He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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.

Thomas Chen
Research and Program Assistant

Thomas Chen is the Research and Program Assistant at Better Markets.  As the Research and Program Assistant, Mr. Chen facilitates research projects, coordinates with the Programming and Press teams on organizing and compiling data for publications, and contributes to Better Markets reports. 

Prior to joining at Better Markets, Mr. Chen interned at Cornell University Federal Relations, where he worked on advocacy on higher education and labor policy and assisted in providing research and analysis of Congressional hearings and coalition meetings.

Mr. Chen received his Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University, where he majored in Government.

Alumni
Past Employees of Better Markets

Riker Vermilye

Riker Vermilye was the Congressional Relations Manager at Better Markets, where he helped 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. He left Better Markets to join the Peace Corps, where he is due to be stationed in Madagascar. 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.

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 was 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.