Becky Norton Dunlop’s duties and travel itinerary as The Heritage Foundation’s vice president for external relations have made her the think tank's “chief ambassador” outside the Beltway.
Dunlop’s speeches and other appearances keep her on the road about 60 days a year, addressing a variety of audiences on how conservative principles meet the challenges of today’s issues. Young people – from kindergarteners to high schoolers to law students – provide some of her favorite interactions amid the rounds of political activists, civic and business groups and government organizations.
Dunlop, who joined Heritage in 1998, oversees four program areas – Coalition Relations, Lectures and Seminars, Young Leaders Program and Strategic Outreach – that are focused on spreading conservative ideas in a host of outside forums. Her responsibilities include advising and consulting with fellow leaders in the private and public sectors.
She previously served inside the White House, at the Department of Justice and at the Department of the Interior as a senior official in the Reagan administration from 1981-1989. She ran her own strategic management and communications consulting firm, Century Communications, and also served from 1994-98 as secretary of natural resources in Virginia under Gov. George Allen.
Dunlop considers her work for the nation on behalf of President Ronald Reagan to be among the greatest privileges of her life. From his inauguration in 1981 to 1985, her White House posts included deputy assistant for presidential personnel and special assistant to the president and director of his Cabinet office.
During Reagan’s second term, Dunlop went to Justice in 1985-86 as senior special assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese, in charge of managing Cabinet-level domestic policy issues. She oversaw major policy reports on the environment, the family, federalism, tort reform, privatization and welfare reform. She completed her service at the Interior Department as assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks.
As Virginia’s natural resources chief, Dunlop worked to streamline, decentralize and down-size agencies while protecting and improving the environment. She is one of the few “free-market environmentalists” to have headed a state agency and put ideas into action. Her book, Clearing the Air (Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, 2000), chronicles some of her experiences in advancing those principles.
Dunlop also served in the administration of President George W. Bush. In 2002, Bush appointed her to a part-time post as chairwoman of the Federal Services Impasse Panel, which resolves disputes between agencies and labor unions. Under her leadership, the seven-member panel took on several hundred cases, eliminating backlogs and applying the law in a fair and timely manner.
Her current leadership roles include serving on the boards of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, the Family Foundation of Virginia, the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors, the Reagan Alumni Association, the Association for American Educators Foundation, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, the American Conservation Union and the Phillips Foundation.
In addition to conservative principles and their roots in the nation’s founding, Dunlop is a sought-after public speaker on the idea that personnel is policy; on energy and the environment (including free market environmentalism); and on the Reagan administration (including the 40th president’s effective leadership style).
A graduate of Miami University in Ohio, she resides in Arlington, Va., with her husband, George S. Dunlop. The Dunlops are members of Oakland Baptist Church in Alexandria.