FTC Announces Departure of Consumer Protection Bureau Director David C. Vladeck and Executive Director Eileen Harrington, Appointment of Charles A. Harwood as Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection and Pat Bak as Acting Executive Director

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz today announced that David C. Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, is leaving the agency on December 31 to return to a faculty position at Georgetown University Law Center, and that Charles A. Harwood, who has been a Deputy Director in the Bureau for the past three years, will serve as Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

“David has been an extraordinarily effective advocate for American consumers.  Under his leadership, the Bureau of Consumer Protection has worked tirelessly to respond to, and to anticipate, the risks consumers face in a rapidly changing marketplace,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.  “We are very fortunate that Chuck Harwood will serve as Acting Director.  Chuck’s experience, insight, and leadership will ensure continued excellence in the Bureau going forward.”

Since Vladeck joined the agency as Bureau Director in 2009, one of the Bureau’s top priorities has been to stop fraud targeting financially distressed consumers.  The agency has brought more than 100 cases against scammers trying to take consumers’ last dollar with false promises of mortgage assistance, debt relief, jobs or other money-making opportunities, government grants, and health insurance.  During Vladeck’s tenure, the agency also has taken decisive action against scams on the Internet, including stopping nearly $1 billion in online marketing fraud by shutting down bogus “free trial” offer schemes.  Vladeck also created the Mobile Technology Unit to coordinate the agency’s mobile enforcement actions and policy work and established an undercover Mobile Technology Lab to investigate and capture evidence.

In addition, during Vladeck’s tenure, the agency developed a comprehensive framework for privacy protection and brought a number of landmark enforcement actions to protect consumer privacy, including cases against Google and Facebook.  The agency also took action against several national advertisers for allegedly making overhyped claims and obtained settlements providing refunds to consumers who purchased the products.  Vladeck was also a key force in helping to forge partnerships with legal services providers and other community organizations to reach traditionally under-served consumers, and in the development of basic, easy-to-read educational materials for consumers.

Charles A. Harwood, who has served as a Deputy Director in the Bureau since November 2009, previously spent 20 years as Director of the FTC’s Northwest Regional Office in Seattle, where he led law enforcement and consumer education efforts, often in cooperation with state authorities, involving a wide range of antitrust and consumer protection issues.  In 2001, Harwood received the FTC Chairman’s Award for his service to the agency and the public.  Harwood joined the FTC in 1989 after six years as a counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, including one year as the Packwood Law Fellow.  Harwood is also a member of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board, a position he was recently reappointed to by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  He is a graduate of Willamette University College of Law and Whitman College.

Chairman Leibowitz also announced that Eileen Harrington, the agency’s Executive Director, will retire at the end of year, and that Pat Bak, who currently serves as Deputy Executive Director, will serve as Acting Executive Director.  The Office of Executive Director is responsible for the administration and management of the Commission, including its human capital, information technology, financial management, administrative services, and legal document processing and records management activities.

Harrington has been Executive Director since November 2010, following 15 months as Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Small Business Administration.  She previously served for 25 years at the FTC, starting as a staff attorney and assuming a variety of senior management positions in the Bureau of Consumer Protection, including Associate Director for Marketing Practices, Deputy Director, and Acting Director.  Harrington received the prestigious Service to America Medal in 2004 for leading the team that created the National Do Not Call Registry.

“Eileen has made invaluable contributions to the FTC, not only in leading the Office of Executive Director, but also during her previous service to this agency.  We will miss her strong management skills, her enthusiasm, her creativity, and, of course, her drive,” Leibowitz.said, adding, “We are fortunate to have so many capable people at the FTC, and gratified that Pat Bak will serve as Acting Executive Director.”

Bak was appointed Deputy Executive Director in May 2010.  She has served in a number of positions at the agency, including as Acting CIO, Associate Executive Director, an attorney with the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Enforcement Division, and as Counsel to the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.  Before joining the FTC in 2002, Bak was Managing Attorney and Corporate Secretary of the $2.3 billion Manville Personal Injury Class Action Settlement Trust and its claims settlement facility, the Claims Resolution Management Corporation, where she managed a 10-person legal department and served on the Trust’s senior management team.  While in private practice, she represented both plaintiffs and defendants in antitrust and securities cases and other complex commercial litigation, and later managed professional liability litigation at the FDIC.  Bak received both her B.A. and J.D. degrees from Northwestern University.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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