Jo Ann Barefoot

Co-Founder & CEO

My life’s work has been about convergence. As a former senior bank regulator and Capitol Hill staffer, I helped design and implement policy frameworks in the traditional financial system. Later, I leaned into the idea that less traditional solutions — with technology at their core — could make huge improvements in those legacy models. Today, I focus on the places where the disparate currents in our markets and regulatory systems can flow together to form something new and better than what came before it.

At AIR, we are helping to make the financial system fairer and more resilient by spurring the development of new solutions for financial consumers that employ the advantages and combat the risks of digital innovation. David Ehrich and I launched the Alliance in 2019 believing that such solutions can result from bringing together a community of leaders from disparate corners of the financial and technology ecosystems. Our mission is to connect government officials, digital innovators, financial providers, academics, nonprofits and other stakeholders, assembling a diverse network committed to the common goal of a technologically advanced regulatory system.

I have always been interested in the confluence of technology, markets, culture, social movements, science, art, education, global poverty reduction and, crucially, regulation in fostering the transformative ideas that make our world better. Here are some of the connections that I have strung together in my life:


  • CEO and Co-founder of the Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR)
  • CEO of Barefoot Innovation Group (BIG)
  • Senior Fellow Emerita at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Business & Government, and author of a series of papers on regulation innovation.
  • Host of the global podcast show Barefoot Innovation.
  • Co-founder of Hummingbird Regtech, designing anti-financial crime software.
  • Global public speaker, reaching thousands of people throughout the world each year.
  • Board member of Oportun.
  • Board member of FinRegLab (where I was Chair).
  • Angel investor.
  • Original member of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.
  • Former chair of the board of the Financial Health Network.
  • Former board member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
  • Member of the Milken Institute FinTech Advisory Committee.
  • Member of the fintech committee of FINRA
  • Member of the California Blockchain Working Group Advisory Board.
  • Author of several books and nearly 200 articles and contributor to Forbes.
  • Author of major white papers, including the Regtech Manifesto.
  • First woman to serve as Deputy Comptroller of the Currency, leading the OCC’s original consumer protection unit and later directing media, Congressional and interagency relationships, including for the Comptroller’s role on the FDIC board.
  • Former Staff Member at the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.
  • Former Co-Chair of the consulting firm Treliant Risk Advisers.
  • Former Partner and Managing Director at KPMG, heading advisory practices in consumer financial regulatory matters and privacy.
  • Former Director of Mortgage Finance for the National Association of Realtors
  • Former researcher at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Federal Home Loan Bank Board.
  • Volunteer leader in conservation, education, women’s opportunity and the arts; chaired the global Trustee Council of the Nature Conservancy and founded its Trustees Without Borders initiative; previously chaired the boards of trustees of the Ohio Nature Conservancy and Hiram College; served on the Council of Board Chairs of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; and serve on the Board of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
  • National Advisory Board member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
  • I have been an International Visitor to the European Community and worked in distressed villages in rural India.

I love adventure and challenge. I’ve raised three amazing kids. I've fly-fished on five continents. I’ve searched for wolves in the Arctic. I’ve crisscrossed Alaska in small planes. I’ve been charged by an Alaska brown bear. I’ve been in a sinking boat in the dark on a lake in Chile. I’ve worked in leprosy villages in India. I’ve run a marathon. I’ve started several businesses. I’ve written two novels — my creative writing has won national recognition. I once spent four days and three nights on a mountain, solo, with no tent, fasting. I've faced 130-degree heat and minus-40 cold. I’ve lived in the inner city and been a crime victim multiple times. My home is now on a mountain in the southwest with the wild creatures including, once, a thousand elk. I’ve traveled a mountain road alone under a full moon with a herd of wild horses. I am (for my age) a fearless early adopter of technology. I think our world needs more fearlessness. I love artists and rebels and inventors and mold-breakers. I’ve beaten polio and cancer. I know technology has saved my life. It’s an eclectic mix. Convergences everywhere, filled with discovery.