Schapiro will leave Dec. 14, the SEC said Monday. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. She took over after the agency failed to detect the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Schapiro is credited with helping reshape the SEC after it was accused of failing to detect reckless investments by many of Wall Street's largest financial institutions before the crisis. And she led an agency that brought civil charges against the nation's largest banks.
But critics argued that she failed to act aggressively to charge leading individuals at those banks who may have contributed to the crisis. Consumer advocates had questioned Schapiro's appointment because she came from the securities industry's self-policing organization, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
It isn't clear who will replace Schapiro. Several news reports have suggested that Mary John Miller, a top Treasury Department official, is a leading candidate.