WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 5, 2020 — The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) congratulates Sherron Watkins, Coleen Rowley and Cynthia Cooper for their inclusion in TIME’s 100 Women of the Year for March’s Celebration of Women honoring 100 influential women of the last 100 years.
The three women were listed as TIME’s Person of the Year in 2002. Coleen Rowley, a former FBI Special Agent, was recognized for calling attention to gaps in the FBI’s preparedness for terrorist attacks prior to the 9/11 attacks. Her subsequent letter to FBI leadership spurred an internal reorganization culminating in the creation of an Office of Intelligence to analyze information regarding potential terror plots. Cynthia Cooper unearthed a $3.8 billion fraud at the WorldCom telecommunications company, at the time the largest accounting fraud in history.
Sherron Watkins is recognized for her work exposing corporate misconduct at Enron, an American energy, commodities, and services company. Her bravery in speaking out against fraudulent accounting methods at Enron led to the creation and enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). Since its historic passage, SOX has protected countless whistleblowers disclosing violations of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations and any shareholder fraud provisions in federal law. Its accountability requirements have been credited with changing corporate culture surrounding workplace and management ethics as well as internal transparency and communication regarding corporate disclosures.
Sherron Watkins said about the accolade: “I am deeply honored to be included in TIME’s list of the most influential women of the last 100 years. The whistleblower label is often toxic and most people, be they in government or industry, suffer great personal and professional cost for speaking truth to power. TIME continues to champion the causes of the whistleblower and for that I am very grateful.”
“When we say whistleblowers have changed the world, we refer to people like Sherron Watkins, Coleen Rowley and Cynthia Cooper,” John Kostyack, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center said. “Watkins’ continuing work to rein in fraud and wrongdoing in the private sector is particularly inspiring as we fight to protect and reward corporate whistleblowers worldwide. TIME’s recognition of such a remarkable whistleblower shows how her story continues to resonate two decades after her disclosure of Enron’s fraud. She helped Americans understand why we need whistleblowers and paved the way for the protections whistleblowers have today.”
Sherron Watkins spoke at NWC’s annual National Whistleblower Appreciation Day celebrations in 2017 and 2019 to tell her whistleblower story. For further information, please contact Nick Younger at firstname.lastname@example.org.