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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA Board Member JoAnn Johnson didn’t move all the way from Iowa to be sitting pretty on the NCUA Board. She worked hard to get where she is and has no plans of being idle now. Hard work is something Johnson has never shied away from, she said. On her parents’ farm in Iowa, she worked side-by-side with her brothers doing milking and other related chores. While some women say that achieving success in the professional world was more difficult for them than it would have been for a man, Johnson feels that hard work is the most important attribute for succeeding professionally. Other than serving as a presidential appointee, she is also breaking gender norms by coaching an undefeated junior high school boys’ football team. “No one can rest on their laurels,” Johnson said, and that includes the credit union community. When she first joined the NCUA Board, the agency and its chairman were being sued by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition for the repeal, by interim final rule, of the Community Action Plan (CAP), which would have required community chartered credit unions to document how they intended to serve the entire community. Johnson joked, “The first day on the job, I was sued.” She ultimately voted in favor of the final rule to repeal the CAP, which she had studied beginning in September when President George W. Bush announced his intent to nominate her, finding the regulation “unnecessary,” but added that credit unions need to do more to get their message out. “They don’t toot their own horns enough,” she said. As a former Iowa state Senator, Johnson commented that it is crucial to get constituents/credit union members into congressional offices to educate lawmakers and bring issues down to earth. Though the daughter-in-law of former NCUA Executive Director Don Johnson, this is how the former state lawmaker became intimate with credit union issues. She pointed out that her Executive Assistant Julie Starnes served as the Iowa Credit Union League’s Vice President of Government Affairs for 12 years. Johnson recalled that she had been contacted by credit unions when she was first elected to the Iowa Senate, but “our relationship became even more involved” when she became the chair of the Ways and Means committee. She said she worked very closely with credit unions on numerous issues including the budget, taxes, and trust services. While Johnson has shifted from legislator, writing the laws, to regulator, working within the laws, she said that this position switch is not frustrating “because I recognize the difference and respect that.” Even though Johnson had always lived within 50 miles of her childhood home, picking up roots and moving to Virginia has been well worth the change. “[Being on the NCUA Board] is more than I expected. It’s good in every way,” the Washington-area neophyte said. “I’m just now fully realizing the job President Bush entrusted to me.” She added that it is challenging and there is always something new to learn. “I’m very appreciative to be given this opportunity,” Johnson said. She feels she definitely made the correct decision and has no second thoughts. “I believed in the credit union philosophy, so I know that was an area I could feel comfortable in,” she commented. The credit union philosophy ties in neatly with Johnson’s own of “leaving things better than you found them.” Additionally, she said of her fellow board members, “I couldn’t ask for two better colleagues.” While the three regulators do not agree on every issue, Johnson said, they are professional, intelligent, and hold no grudges. She also said, “I’ve come to learn, we have one of the best staffs I have ever been associated with.” However, her best education on credit unions has been by meeting with individual ones, which she was encouraged to do by NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar. Johnson said she finds it useful to see how the regulations affect the credit unions the board regulates. Consequently, Johnson said she has spent about half of her time at NCUA traveling. She said she feels bad when she cannot accept all the invitations sent to her from credit unions and their representatives. While Johnson said, “I didn’t come with an agenda preconceived,” she does have some basic goals for the board and herself, including promoting Access Across America and the new risk-focused examination, ensuring all the agency’s regulations are necessary and effective, making sure the federal charter is viable and attractive, ensuring credit unions can adapt quickly in emergency situations (particularly since September 11), and allowing regulatory flexibility, which she said “should never be confused with lessening safety and soundness standards.” On a more specific topic, she said, more work needs to be done on the secondary capital issue, because there does not seem to be consensus across the entire credit union community. Johnson said the issue “could be” more of the tail wagging the dog with the trade groups especially pushing the issue. “There are philosophical questions that have to be reconciled,” she explained. However, she pointed out that the subject with regard to Prompt Corrective Action is a statutory restriction. [email protected]

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