Becky Norton Dunlop, a prominent leader, strategist, and grass-roots activist in the conservative movement, is The Heritage Foundation’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow.
Dunlop, who joined the leading think tank in 1998, holds the only policy chair in the country to be officially named for the 40th president. She succeeds Ed Meese, the U.S. attorney general under Reagan, who assumed emeritus status.
Dunlop oversees special projects, travels as an ambassador for Heritage to the worldwide conservative movement, and works tirelessly to assure that the legacy of principles, policies, and practices represented by the life and service of Ronald Reagan remain in the hearts and minds of Americans.
She is chairman of the Conservative Action Project, founded by conservative leaders and initially headed by Meese. The group helps conservatives work together on behalf of common principles and policy goals. Participants include the CEOs and other leaders of more than 100 organizations.
Dunlop also leads the Restore America project, one of Heritage’s “transition projects” to recruit conservatives to serve as key personnel in the next presidential administration. Previously, Dunlop was Heritage’s vice president for external relations from 1998 until May 2016.
Her speeches and other appearances on behalf of Heritage keep her on the road, addressing a variety of audiences on how conservative principles meet the challenges of today. Young people—from middle-schoolers to law students—provide some of her favorite interactions amid the rounds with political activists, conservative organizations, civic and business groups, and government organizations.
She served as a senior official in the Reagan administration from 1981-1989 inside the White House, at the Justice Department, and at the Interior Department.
Before joining Heritage, Dunlop also ran her own strategic management and communications consulting firm, Century Communications, and served from 1994-1998 as secretary of natural resources under then-Virginia Gov. George Allen.
Dunlop says she considers her work for the nation on behalf of President Reagan to be among the greatest privileges of her life.
As political director for the American Conservative Union from 1973- 1977, she was instrumental in organizing grass-roots activists for Reagan’s unsuccessful 1976 race for the Republican nomination and advised his successful 1980 nomination and general election campaigns.
From Reagan’s first 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 served as senior special assistant to Meese, then attorney general, 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 in the Reagan administration as deputy undersecretary of the Interior Department and as assistant interior secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks.
Dunlop is one of the few of the insiders from the beginnings of the Reagan era who remain active in public policy leadership.
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.
In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed her to a part-time post as chairwoman of the Federal Service Impasses Panel. The seven-member group resolves disputes between federal agencies and labor unions. Under her leadership, it took on several hundred cases and eliminated backlogs.
She has served as president of the Council on National Policy, where she currently is on the executive committee.
Other current leadership roles include the boards of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, the Reagan Ranch, the Reagan Alumni Association, the Association for American Educators, and the American Conservation Union.
In addition to topics addressing 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); on federalism as a former member of a governor’s Cabinet; and on the Reagan administration (including the 40th president’s effective leadership style).
A graduate of Miami University in Ohio, she currently resides in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband, George S. Dunlop. The Dunlops are members of Oakland Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.