OIC 2021: The Late Joe Levin Honored With Sullivan Award

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

Former CBOE head of research and product development “helped shape the industry” with product innovations.

The last event of Day One of the “Virtual Experience” Options Industry Conference  2021 was the presentation of the Joseph Sullivan Award for 2020 to former CBOE Vice President of Research and Product Development Joe Levin.

The session started with a moving tribute to Joseph Sullivan, the first CBOE president and for whom the Sullivan Award is named. Sullivan passed away in October of 2020, so the tribute and session was titled “In Memoriam: Joseph Sullivan Tribute & Presentation of the 2020 Sullivan Award.”

The award was established in 2002 and its winners have included various iconic industry luminaries from the options exchanges, the OCC and other organizations.

Levin, who worked for the CBOE for 34 years, was represented by his wife, Bonnie Greenberg, who received the award in his name. Greenberg herself worked for the CBOE for 10 years, so she said she knew how much this award meant to the industry and its recipients.

Cboe Global Markets Chairman and CEO Ed Tilly called Levin a “true visionary.”  “No idea was too big or too radical” for Levin and his team to consider, he said. Tilly’s vision was locked on a teleprompter that was placed too high and made him look like a far-seeing visionary himself.

Levin was lauded for his and his team’s development of the Cboe Volatility Index, the VIX, and for seeing volatility as a tradable asset class. But Levin and his team also developed the OEX and SPX, Flex options, LEAPS and buy-write indexes. They also introduced  weekly options, which Henry Schwartz said in his “State of the Industry” OIC kickoff presentation now represent about 40% of average daily volume amid   the rise of retail interest in the options markets.

Greenberg said when discussing Levin’s contributions with his colleagues they  shared comments such  as, he “put CBOE on the map” and “helped shape the industry.”

“Joe was always the smartest guy in the room,” one colleague told Greenberg.

She noted that Joe did not have a big ego and would want to share the award with his team, who were like family to him.


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