Leo Melamed is chairman emeritus at CME Group. He served as a CME board member from 1967 through his retirement in 2018. He also is chairman and CEO of Melamed & Associates, Inc., a global consulting firm.
Melamed is widely credited with being the "founder of financial futures" for his role in the listing of financial futures. In particular, the emergence of foreign currency futures and the 1972 establishment of the International Monetary Market at CME put Melamed squarely on the map in the financial community. Yet his influence at the exchange was much broader over the years, including the 1992 launch of the CME's electronic trading platform Globex. That system would prove to be the backbone for the CME and its global growth in the following decades. 
Born in Poland, Melamed and his parents fled the Nazis in 1939 following the outbreak of World War II.
His family traveled across Europe and Siberia to Vladivostok, the Eastern Russian seaport. The issuance of a transit visa by Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Consul General to Lithuania, enabled the Melamdovich family to leave Russia and find safe haven in Japan.
In 1941 the family was admitted to the United States and settled in Chicago, where Melamed's parents worked as Yiddish school teachers for the Sholem Aleichem Folks Institute.
Melamed grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago and attended Roosevelt High School, where he met his wife, Betty Sattler.
Melamed was a Chicago attorney for a number of years but maintained part-time activities as a commodity futures trader. In 1965 he left the practice of law to concentrate full-time on futures trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In 1967, he was elected to the board of directors at CME and became chairman from 1969 until 1972 and founding chairman of the International Monetary Market from 1972 until its merger with CME in 1976. He served on the board until his announced retirement in May 2018 but will serve as a consultant to the exchange until 2020. He served as special counsel to CME's board from 1977 until 1991 and chairman of the exchange's Executive Committee from 1985 until 1991.
During his career as a CME member, Melamed served in many senior capacities on CME's board of directors, including chairman of its Strategic Steering Committee. In August 2009, the CME announced it would give Melamed a lifelong paycheck of $300,000 annually once he retires. Along with the payments, he would also get an office and a secretary, but no health coverage, pension or other benefits. The agreement terminates upon his death. In return, Melamed provides consulting services to CME Group, keeps all CME-related information confidential and refrains from working for or assisting any CME competitor during the term of this agreement and for a period of one year thereafter. The move came shortly after Melamed stepped down from a position in 2008 with the Singapore Mercantile Exchange, where he served as chairman of the advisory committee.
He was both a voting and non-voting director of CME for decades and in 1997 was appointed as chairman emeritus and senior policy advisor. He served as senior policy advisor to CME Holdings' board from its formation to November 2005 and to the CME board from 1997 to November 2005.
In 1982, he helped create the National Futures Association, (NFA) as the industry's self-regulatory organization, where he served as its founding chairman. He remains a permanent special advisor. He also has served as an advisor to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and special advisor to a number of governments on financial markets. In 2010, he was appointed to the International Advisory Council of the China Securities Regulatory Commission. 
Melamed also has served with numerous companies and trading firms in the financial services space.
He started his own trading company, Sakura Dellsher Inc. in 1965, which became a clearing member firm at CME. He co-founded Sakura Dellsher with Maury Kravitz, a gold pit broker at the CME, and served as chairman and CEO of the firm from 1993 to 2001. The firm closed in 2001, with most of its clearing business going to ABN AMRO.
In October 2007, Melamed, former US Senator Adlai Stevenson III and former Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. general partner Michael Tokarz partnered with HuaMei Capital Company, to launch HuaMei Capital Co. Inc., focused on cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Melamed serves as HuaMei's vice chairman. Melamed and Stevenson's group took a 30 percent stake in the firm while China Merchants Securities Holdings Co. Ltd. holds 50 percent and U.S.-based MVC Capital took 20 percent.
In July 2008, Melamed was named chairman of the advisory board of the newly announced Singapore Mercantile Exchange at a ceremony in Singapore. On Aug. 7, 2008, the Chicago Tribune reported that Melamed resigned from the chairman of the advisory board position at the new Singapore exchange amid claims Melamed had not informed fellow CME Group board members prior to accepting the position.
In June 2009, Melamed was named to a five-person advisory board at Infinium Capital Management, LLC, helping the company explore new areas of growth, including the potential establishment of a hedge fund. The firm closed in 2014. 
In January 2018, he was named as a special advisor to Huatai Financial USA, a Chinese-based futures brokerage.
He has received numerous awards for his contributions to the futures industry, including the CME Group Fred Arditti Innovation Award in 2006. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from Risk Magazine in January of 2013. On August 6, 2020, Melamed was inducted into the Chicago Innovation Hall of Fame.
He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago when it was domiciled at Navy Pier. He received a J.D. degree from the John Marshall Law School in 1955.
Melamed has written extensively on the markets and has written two science fiction books as well. His published works include:
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