What a run it’s been lately. We’ve seen all sorts of women’s firsts — the first Alaska Airlines plane piloted by an all-African American women cockpit crew, the first woman trumpeter to play the fanfare at a royal wedding, the first woman attorney general of New York, the first woman CEO of Fox News, the first woman to head up the CIA (you get the idea) — over the last week or so. On Tuesday morning, the venerable New York Stock Exchange joined the club by naming Stacey Cunningham its first woman president in 226 years.
Cunningham, who has been the NYSE’s COO since 2015, will take over on Friday and become the exchange’s 67th president. The news was heralded in an early-morning tweet by the NYSE that read, “Introducing the new President of The NYSE. From floor trader to COO, and now to the woman in charge.”
— NYSE (@NYSE) May 22, 2018
But that introduction slightly understated Cunningham’s remarkable ascent at the NYSE, which Jeff Sprecher, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange and chairman of NYSE Group and the New York Stock Exchange mentioned in the accompanying press release. Cunningham got her start at the NYSE decades ago as a summer intern.
“As our COO, Stacey Cunningham successfully managed our equities, equities derivatives and ETF businesses, distinguishing herself as a customer-focused leader who is respected across our industry,” Sprecher said in the statement. “More than a half century after Muriel Siebert became the first woman to own a seat on the NYSE, Stacey represents a new generation of leadership for the NYSE Group. I’m confident that Stacey, who started as a summer intern on the NYSE floor in 1994, will continue to propel this vital institution forward. Stacey and our team are steadfastly committed to ensuring that the U.S. remains the center of world’s capital markets.”
Cunningham, 43, also took to Twitter to address the momentous appointment. “Since the moment I stepped onto the trading floor, the @NYSE has always held a special place in my heart. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization.”
Since the moment I stepped onto the trading floor, the @NYSE has always held a special place in my heart. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization. pic.twitter.com/600GP34hZe
— Stacey Cunningham (@stacey_cunning) May 22, 2018
She echoed that sentiment in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, saying, “I loved the place right out of the gate and now I’m excited to be running it.” Two years after completing her internship, Cunningham began working full time as a clerk on the NYSE floor, a place that was dominated by men: More than 1,300 men worked there in the mid-1990s, while only about three dozen women were on the floor.
Cunningham is succeeding Thomas Farley, who has been the NYSE president since 2014. The move will result in two of the world’s most noteworthy exchanges — the NYSE and the Nasdaq — now being led by women. Adena Friedman became the first woman leader at the Nasdaq in 2017.