More work to do on racial diversity

De'Ana Dow of Capitol Counsel says the derivatives industry has improved on gender diversity but the lack of racial diversity is glaring

11 August 2020


De’Ana Dow
De'Ana Dow, Partner and General Counsel at Capitol Counsel

What drew you to the derivatives industry?

My interest in working at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission came from my position as a staff assistant to U.S. Senator Walter D. Huddleston, who was on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Several CFTC staffers, who I worked with in the Senator’s office, had migrated to the Commission. While at Georgetown University Law Center, I took a commodities regulation course taught by the CFTC’s enforcement director, Jerry Markham. During my third year at Georgetown, I was hired at the CFTC as a legal intern in the Division of Trading and Markets. I spent 22 years at the Commission.   

Who have been your role models and the most influential people in your career?

The first person to give me opportunities to advance my career was Andrea Corcoran, the long-time director of the Division of Trading and Markets. Some years later, the second person who had a major influence on my career was Chairman William Rainer. He was the first CFTC Chairman to hire a Black person as legal counsel.  It was an honor to be chosen and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve in that role during a critical time in the agency’s history.     

How have things changed in terms of diversity and inclusion since you started working?

Unfortunately, since I started working in this industry in 1980, I have seen very little change in diversity and inclusion, including in both private and public sectors. While the derivatives industry has done well on gender diversity, the lack of racial diversity is glaring. A quick review reveals no Black people in senior management derivatives policy roles at the two largest futures exchanges in the world, although it is notable that both have at least one Black person on their respective Boards of Directors. Looking at deputy director positions and above in the operating divisions at the CFTC, i.e., not including HR and Executive Director offices, I see one Black person. The same is true at our industry trade associations and other CFTC-registered entities.  

Diverse Voices
Diverse Voices - Read more personal stories of challenges and success

What do you see as the biggest barriers to Black and ethnic minority professionals growing into leadership roles?

It is my earnest opinion that this blatant absence of Black people in senior policy making/leadership roles in our industry is a product of unconscious bias, rooted in this country’s tragic history of slavery. We are consistently overlooked when opportunities arise. It is an unwritten, unstated rule, but absolutely understood in the Black community, that we have to work three times as long and twice as hard as our White counterparts to prove ourselves worthy. That’s not only in our industry but across the board. We rarely have mentors, sponsors, or coaches. The barriers are high. The struggle is real.      

Tell us one thing you hope for future generations.

My hope is that senior level managers who make the hiring decisions will not be “color blind” so that they see us and give Black professionals equal opportunity to compete for executive level positions throughout our industry. 


De’Ana Dow is Partner and General Counsel at Capitol Counsel LLC. Prior to joining Capital Counsel, she served as Senior Vice President with Ogilvy Government Relations, specializing in futures and derivatives markets. Prior to her time at Ogilvy, Ms. Dow served as Managing Director for Government Affairs at CME Group, and as Senior Vice President and Chief Legislative Counsel for the New York Mercantile Exchange. She also spent time as an Associate Vice President and Counsel in the Market Regulation Department at NASD (now FINRA), where she developed and supervised the futures market regulatory program.  Ms. Dow began her legal career at the CFTC where she served in a number of positions over 22 years, including supervisory roles in the Division of Trading and Markets, Counsel to Chairman William Rainer during the Clinton Administration, and Special Advisor to Chairman James Newsome under the Bush Administration. 

  • FIA