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About Us


The Center for Financial Policy aims to leverage the Smith School’s world-renowned faculty and leading research, and proximity to Washington, D.C. to promote a collaborative exchange of ideas on key policy issues that affect financial markets.  Through its conferences, workshops and speakers the Center creates a forum for academics, regulators and industry professionals to discuss the latest issues and research.  The experiential learning projects for students seek to enhance and broaden the exposure of the next generation of business and government leaders.  

Click here for a short video from Professor Wermers on the Center's mission.

Russ Wermers, Director
Bank of America Professor of Finance
Wermers is responsible for providing the Center’s vision, strategy, and oversight.

Russ Wermers

Russ Wermers is Professor of Finance at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland at College Park, where he won a campus-wide teaching award during 2005 and a Krowe Teaching Award (within the Smith Business School) during 2013.  His main research interests include studies of the efficiency of securities markets, as well as the role of institutional investors in setting stock prices. In addition, he studies and teaches quantitative equity strategies, and is currently researching microfinance institutions in Thailand.  Most notably, his past research has developed new approaches to measuring and attributing the performance of mutual funds, pension funds, and hedge funds, as well as devising winning strategies for investing in these funds. Professor Wermers also studies the investment behavior of these asset managers, as well as the impact of their trades on stock markets.  His papers have been published in leading scholarly journals, such as The American Economic Review, The Review of Financial Studies, The Journal of Financial Economics, and The Journal of Finance.  His article on mutual fund “herding” and stock prices (Journal of Finance, 1999) won the NYSE Award for the Best Paper on Equity Trading in 1995. His coauthored article on mutual fund performance was a finalist for the Smith-Breeden Award for the Best Paper in the Journal of Finance during 2006/2007. Professor Wermers consults for the hedge fund, pension fund, and mutual fund industries. He is coauthor of a book on the latest scientific approaches to performance evaluation and attribution of professional fund managers, written for academics and practitioners (published in December 2012). He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in December 1995.

Kristen Fanarakis, Assistant Director
Fanarakis provides key strategic guidance for the Center, and directs the Center’s marketing, communications, and operations.

Kristen Fanarakis

Prior to joining the CFP, Kristen spent over a decade on Wall Street working on both the buy-side and sell-side of the financial industry. She began her career in the currency investment unit at Putnam Investments in Boston. In this role, she was responsible for fundamental research on the Scandinavian region, helped implement the firm’s trading strategy, and served as the team’s liaison to the marketing department. She later went on to work in sales on the foreign exchange trading floor for banks such as Merrill Lynch and Citibank in New York City. There she covered several of the leading U.S. institutional asset managers providing real-time market information and advice to her clients in addition to executing trades. She holds her B.A. in economics and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her M.B.A. from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business. She also holds her M.S. in international economics from Suffolk University.

William Longbrake, Executive-in-Residence
Longbrake serves as senior policy advisor to the center.

William Longbrake

Dr. Longbrake has extensive experience in finance, macroeconomics and monetary policy, risk management, housing, public policy and academia, government, serving both the public and private sectors. As an executive-in-residence at the Smith School, Longbrake works on a variety of business, policy, and governance issues with faculty, students, business leaders, government policymakers, and executives of not-for-profit organizations. He serves on the boards of directors of City First Bank of DC, a community development bank located in Washington, DC; BECU, the fourth largest credit union in the nation located in Tukwila, Washington; the Washington State Investment Board; and Hope LoanPort. Longbrake is a member of the mortgage markets committee of the American Bankers Association. He is chair of the board of trustees of the College of Wooster. He is chairman of the board of trustees of Lift Up Africa, a charitable organization that finances humanitarian and economic development initiatives on the continent of Africa, and is president of the Longbrake Family Foundation. In the academic sector, Longbrake has published extensively and has taught courses in business administration and finance. He publishes the Longbrake Letter monthly, which discusses economic developments and issues, on the Center for Financial Policy website. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award from the Smith School. Longbrake is active in numerous academic, business, and community service organizations, particularly those involving issues surrounding affordable housing and education. He chairs the Washington State Citizens Commission for Review of Tax Preferences. He is a member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors for Washington State, and a member of the Smith School’s Board of Advisors. He is chairman emeritus of the Financial Services Roundtable’s Housing Policy Council and former vice chair and CFO of Washington Mutual, Inc.

Steve Wallenstein, Director, Directors' Institute
Professor of the Practice
Wallenstein serves as a senior policy advisor to the Center.

Steve Wallenstein

Steve Wallenstein is a Professor of the Practice at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and he is also director of the Directors' Institute at the Smith School, an ongoing series to address the corporate governance failures of diligence, ethics and controls in corporate America. Wallenstein is a recognized expert in corporate governance and best practices for publicly traded companies in the US and abroad. From 1998 to 2009 he was a faculty member at the Fuqua School of Business and Duke Law School, founded the Duke Directors' Education Institute (DEI) in 2002, and established the Duke Global Capital Markets Center (GCMC) in 1998, a collaborative venture between Fuqua and Duke Law. Wallenstein is also an expert on emerging markets, having spent fifteen years as Senior Counsel and Senior Investment Officer at the International Finance Corporation in Washington D.C. He was responsible for structuring and negotiating international project finance, privatizations and capital markets transactions in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. Wallenstein, who speaks fluent Portuguese, maintains close ties with Brazil where he taught law and development at the Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, as well as a course on the Global Financial Crisis at Fundacao Getulio Vargas. He was a member of the Board of Directors of CVRD – INCO (Canada) and a member of the Audit Committee from 2006-2007, and a corporate governance advisor to the Management Committee of Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (VALE) from 2007-2009. Wallenstein has taught several interdisciplinary courses on corporate governance, venture capital and private equity, and international finance.