Jul 22 2021

Lucy Dunn to Retire as Orange County Business Council President and CEO

Irvine, CA – July 22, 2021  Orange County Business Council (OCBC) announced today that Lucy Dunn, President and CEO, intends to retire effective December 31, 2021, after 16 years at the helm of the organization.

During her tenure, Dunn has become one of the region’s most influential voices and trusted advocates for the business community. She has built consensus among leaders in government and academia to help secure billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements, facilitate the completion of key water and transportation projects, advance workforce and affordable housing initiatives, narrow gaps in skills and education among the local workforce, and position Orange County as a world leader and coveted destination for innovative companies.

“Orange County is one of the most dynamic marketplaces in the world. It has been an honor to help shape and champion the policies and initiatives that have been instrumental in making this one of the great places to do business,” Dunn said. “This is not only the sixth most populous county in the nation, but it has become a leader in multiple industry sectors from real estate to tourism, healthcare, bio sciences, medical devices and higher education. My objective from day one was to represent the interests of so many who contribute so much to the success and high quality of life in this county.”

Current OCBC Board Chair, Jena Jensen, Chief Government Relations Officer at CHOC praised Dunn as a “game changer,” who has helped set the business agenda for the county and in turn became one of the most recognizable figures on many of the most critical issues of the day.

“Orange County today has an enviable reputation statewide, and even nationally, as a special place to live and do business. From infrastructure to research and development, from education to the arts, Orange County gets things done. Lucy absolutely personifies that spirit, and has been pivotal in our evolution from a bedroom community to a thriving hub of innovation. With her bold and collaborative leadership style, she has tirelessly advocated on behalf of business in this county and region,” said Jensen. “On many occasions, she single-handedly brought together diverse and competing interests for the greater good of this community. She is a true connector.”

Under the leadership of OCBC’s immediate past Board Chair, Joe Hensley, Market President of U.S. Bank, a search committee is being formed to engage an executive search firm to help select Dunn’s successor to head up the organization and its 200-plus business members.

In announcing her retirement, Dunn said it is time to “look forward” to her next chapter, including more time with family, including grandchildren, travel and her love of music and live performing.

Some of Dunn’s key accomplishments as CEO to ensure the county’s economic development, prosperity and high quality of life include:

  • Hosting President George W. Bush to speak about his plan for comprehensive immigration reform in her first months at the helm of OCBC.
  • Advocating for the renewal of Measure M, known as M2, to provide up to an additional $12 billion in funds to improve the county’s roads and highway infrastructure, considered by many as some of the best highways in the nation.
  • Facilitating the settlement to end the long and contentious battle between the Transportation Corridor Agencies (The Toll Roads) and Save San Onofre Coalition of leading environmentalists to develop a plan to protect sensitive habitat and a state beach while providing for mobility solutions for South Orange County.
  • Ensuring research, advocacy and leadership on the regional, state and federal levels to position Orange County as the “capital” of Southern California and a globally connected economic powerhouse, a destination for both high-skilled professionals, venture capital and new economy industries.
  • Providing cross-sector leadership for businesses and communities alike to safely navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and workplace lockdown for 15 months.

In fact, Dunn’s leadership was critical in supporting the county’s response to COVID-19 and its economic fallout, seeking throughout 2020 to champion the motto “Good Health is Good Business.” Filling an essential need to assist some of the worst hit small businesses stay afloat, Dunn worked with county leaders and health care officials to administer SafeDineOC, helping more than 2,100 restaurants in Orange County receive reimbursements of $10 million in federal CARES Act grants for safe health protocol practices.

Before joining OCBC, Dunn served as Director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development under Governor Schwarzenegger, who also appointed her to the California Transportation Commission in 2008 where she served two more terms under Governor Jerry Brown. She helped develop Orange County’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness and serves as a business advisor for the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Southern California Association of Governments. She is founding co-chair of the R.E.A.L. Coalition of 23 CEOs of California’s largest business organizations from San Francisco to San Diego advocating for infrastructure, education, water, housing and governance reform. Working with NeighborWorks, she helped revitalize the Orange County Housing Trust and, thanks to Disneyland Resort’s $5 million gift, kick-started the development of five affordable housing and homeless prevention projects.
A graduate of Cal State Fullerton and Western State University College of Law, Dunn was the first female president of the Building Industry Association of Southern California. Early in her career, she also served as a practicing attorney.

Dunn is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from advocacy for housing to mobility and education. She received the California State Legislature “Woman of the Year” and an Assembly Certificate of Recognition as “person of the year.” In 2014, OC Register named her as one of “Orange County’s 100 Most Influential” and she received the Bishop’s Award for Exemplary Leadership from the Diocese of Orange. In 2016, the Endangered Habitats League honored her for her work in advancing protection of habitat and cultural resources, while providing for South Orange County mobility options. In 2019, Orange County Business Journal named her one of OC’s 500 most influential.

: Kathy Corpuz

Director, Communications and Marketing


[email protected]

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