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20 WOMEN TO WATCH
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pioneers of women's business, continued ...Published: March 01, 2010

Lucy Dunn
A Coto de Caza resident, Dunn is a woman of firsts – the first female officer in the 60-year history of the California Building Industry Association, the first woman president in the 80-year history of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, and the first woman officer in the 30-year history of Signal Landmark, an Irvine-based land development company.
   
And she founded the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, aiding a 35-year effort to preserve the Huntington Beach wetlands.
   
“Learning new things, it fuels me,” she says.
   
As Dunn moved from the realm of law (that’s right, she began her career as an attorney) to real estate to the public sector, she didn’t hesitate to venture into unfamiliar territory, and she advises young businesswomen to do the same.
   
“Don’t be afraid to walk through an open door. Sometimes an open door will surprise you and will have greater reward for you than if you had just planned everything out from day one,” Dunn says. “Be open to surprises. Be open to unusual paths.”
   
In 2004, Dunn was appointed director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. During her two-year stint, Dunn and her team distributed funding for more than 72,000 affordable homes.
   
Following her time in Sacramento, she was appointed to her current post, but her state-level service was not over. In 2008, she was the only woman and the sole Orange County representative appointed by the governor to a four-year term on the California Transportation Commission Board of Directors.
   
Dunn has helped establish guidelines to encourage public-private partnerships for state transportation projects – a welcome alternative for counties leery of raising taxes – all the while providing competition in a down economy, she says.

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