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WASHINGTON-When CUNA Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Regulatory Advocacy Mary Dunn is not pounding the pavement at credit unions’ various regulators, she is enjoying time with her husband and horses on their “farmette” outside Leesburg, Va. The Dunn Family got interested in horses when daughter, Meredith, became enamored with them as a child. As they learned more about the graceful creatures they also unfortunately became aware of the awful abuses many suffered, and so the Dunn’s began adopting battered horses. Even though Meredith is now well into graduate school, Dunn and her husband, Michael, remain avid horse-lovers. They currently have six in their stables: Mac, Bo, Wendy, Gypsy, Annie, and Red. One of Dunn’s greatest accomplishments, she said, was helping her daughter get “on a path to some kind of success.” However, she is better known in the credit union community for her work toward credit unions’ successes. Dunn was raised in Arkansas and got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas. Her first job out of college was working in the government affairs department for the U.S. League of Savings, a trade group for savings associations. At the league, she had done some research on credit unions, because thrifts were concerned about them as competitors. What Dunn found was something she already knew: that credit unions “really do help people better themselves, financially.” Dunn’s first experience with a credit union was when she and her husband bought a Ford Pinto with a loan through a credit union. She said it might sound “corny but our experience with the credit union was tremendous.and I never forgot it.” She admitted that the credit union business attracts all types, but generally they really do care about people. From her job with the U.S. League, Dunn began getting acquainted with many people at NAFCU. In 1987, she began there as the director of communications. In that position, she found herself spending a lot of her time at NCUA and then-CEO Ken Robinson asked her to head up a new regulatory affairs department. Dunn was also going to school nights for her law degree from George Mason University. While working for NAFCU, Dunn got to know Kathy Thompson who headed CUNA’s regulatory affairs department at the time and came to work for her. When Dan Mica and Eric Richard joined CUNA, they wanted to restructure and create a department of regulatory “advocacy,” which Dunn was asked to head up. “I think we were kind of ahead of the curve,” she observed, noting that regulation is not just about compliance. Among her professional achievements she counts helping credit unions in the AT&T lawsuit and the H.R. 1151 battle as well as the Treasury study that came from it. “It was a huge endeavor for credit unions to get through and I was glad to be part of it,” Dunn said. New issues are popping up for credit unions all the time. “[Credit unions] are beginning to see regulatory issues be more prominent in the area of policy considerations within the credit union system.Credit unions have to live under these regulations and the devil is always in the details,” she noted. Peering into the future, Dunn projected that NCUA’s interpretation of the field of membership characteristics will continue to be important to help credit unions grow, but the bankers will not have much say in it. “I don’t see the bankers backing off and I don’t see the credit unions backing down,” she stated. She also pointed to the agency’s RegFlex approach, which “signaled a different way of regulating” by providing incentives for good policy as opposed to a punitive approach. As time goes on, how this method is used will be significant. Additionally, member business lending is coming into play in a big way for credit unions, particularly with the agency’s new, broader interpretation of what is permitted under the law. She said it takes a while to get any relatively new product into the mainstream and since it really is not appropriate for all credit unions it needs to be examined carefully. Looking back over 2003, Dunn described it as a labor-intensive year between Check 21, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, implementing the PATRIOT Act rules and others. She added that 2004 is building up to be a crossroads year for credit unions with all the focus in the states on the Unrelated Business Income Tax and what services that encompasses. Getting Prompt Corrective Action fixed is also crucial, and it will be interesting to see how credit union conversions to mutuals and their impact on the community is handled. “I truly love representing credit unions. That is a fantastic occupation,” Dunn said. But this apparently is not enough of a challenge for Dunn. Always interested in music, she has taken up playing the violin in the last few years. Though she said the pros do not have anything to worry about from her, she does play in a group of 15-20 strings on Friday evenings. “I want to continue feeling challenged and that there are new opportunities out there,” Dunn explained. [email protected]

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