The setting was festive and the fashions elegant, but when Heidi Miller took the stage Tuesday night to accept her award as U.S. Banker's Most Powerful Woman in Banking, pride turned to near defiance with Miller's delivery of as strong a public defense of the industry as any executive has dared voice in recent memory.

"I'm very proud of what I do, where I do it. I'm very proud of the industry I belong to," said Miller, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s treasury and securities services unit. "By separating the headlines and the press reports of a parallel universe from the reality that I know about what most of us do — and yes, that includes derivatives traders and securitizers — I believe that most of us have done our jobs admirably, even in a tough environment."

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