2006.03.22: March 22, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Treasury: American Banker: Ghana RPCV John Walsh is Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan's chief of staff

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: 2006.03.22: March 22, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Treasury: American Banker: Ghana RPCV John Walsh is Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan's chief of staff

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Ghana RPCV John Walsh is Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan's chief of staff

Ghana RPCV John Walsh is Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan's chief of staff

A part-time passion is a foundation working to reopen a school in Kenya for at-risk Baltimore boys. The Baraka School was closed in 2003 after a terrorist attack in Mombassa drove the school's liability insurance too high. "The students targeted by programs like Baraka are falling through the cracks of the education system ... probably headed for jail or the morgue," Mr. Walsh said. "Yet these boys have the same capacity as any other teenager to succeed in life. We are simply not prepared to throw them away."

Ghana RPCV John Walsh is Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan's chief of staff

Realtor Conflict Reshapes OCC Official's Priority List

Mar 22, 2006 - American Banker

When John Walsh signed on as Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan's chief of staff last October, he set his sights on upgrading the agency's information technology and rebuilding its ranks of examiners. But his objectives quickly changed. Early this year the agency was blindsided by the National Association of Realtors' campaign to curb the comptroller's ability to broaden bank products and services.

Mr. Walsh says he is not shying from the fight.

"This was the farthest thing" from Mr. Dugan's mind, Mr. Walsh said in an interview. "John is keen on this -- we're not going to have a reactive stance."

Mr. Walsh said the Realtors have misinterpreted the OCC's decisions to let three banks develop and own commercial real estate projects. But the powerful group must be taken seriously, he said, even if the criticism is a "total diversion" that "takes time and energy away" from the comptroller's priorities.

Mr. Walsh admits he is scouring Capitol Hill for any indication the Realtors have found lawmakers ready to sponsor an anti-OCC bill, and he claims the Realtors are having little success.

Sworn in last August, Mr. Dugan said in an interview last month that Mr. Walsh was his first and only choice for the chief of staff job. He said he was so sure his close friend would accept, he never even considered who a second choice might be.

"He has my total and complete confidence," Mr. Dugan said.

An aerospace mechanical engineer by schooling, though never by trade, Mr. Walsh met Mr. Dugan in the mid-1980s when both were working for the Senate Banking Committee. Mr. Walsh was an economist on the international subcommittee while Mr. Dugan was general counsel to the panel's Republican members.

The savings and loan crisis solidified their bond; the pair worked closely on the two laws designed to reform the regulation of banks and thrifts: the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Improvement Act of 1991. By then Mr. Dugan was the assistant Treasury secretary for domestic finance.

"It was lots of late nights and lots of weekend work. You get to know those people very well," said Lamar Smith, a Visa U.S.A. lobbyist who was the committee's Republican staff director. "John is the quintessential staff person who supports his principal. ... If he's going to dig into a topic he's going to know everything there is to know about that topic and he's going to make sure that the policymaker has all of the options on the table," said Mr. Smith. Beyond his "commitment to technical expertise," Mr. Smith said he was struck by Mr. Walsh's grace under fire. "He is totally unflappable.

He remains very cool, very disciplined in stressful situations. ... It's such a central point of his personality."

Mr. Walsh is the comptroller's solution for being in two places at once. He attends meetings, works with staff, and stays apprised of policy matters as an extension of the comptroller, but he thinks for himself. "I trust his judgment" and "we're on the same wavelength," Mr. Dugan said.

But it is more than camaraderie and his Senate Banking experience that suit Mr. Walsh for his position at the OCC, Mr. Dugan said.

Upon graduation from the University of Notre Dame, Mr. Walsh turned down "the hot job" at Bell Labs, which was the premier technology arm of AT&T when it was the national long-distance monopoly, because he felt engineering was too limiting. The offer entailed highly classified sonar systems work for nuclear submarines, but Mr. Walsh opted to join the Peace Corps instead, teaching high school in Ghana for two years.

Even after earning Ivy League credentials in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Mr. Walsh never stopped thinking like an engineer.

"He's very practical," said Mr. Dugan, "a 'get it done' person," but he knows how far and how hard to push. "He's persistent, but he's not a hatchet man."

Unlike his predecessor Mark Nishan, Jerry Hawke's chief of staff, Mr. Walsh has an external communications role and is entrusted to speak on Mr. Dugan's behalf.

Communication comes naturally to Mr. Walsh. There seems to be no topic that puts him at a loss for words and a single question often prompts an entire conversation, making it apparent the chief of staff is not reading off cue cards, but is genuinely clued in. But his job is to facilitate the comptroller's interests. "I didn't come here with a personal agenda," he said.

Mr. Walsh is playing a key role in ramping up the OCC's effort to recruit new examiners in large groups or "classes" to offset the midlevel staffing gap that will worsen as older examiners retire during the next few years. He is looking to bolster the OCC's outreach efforts and said Yale University recently contacted him, "demanding" an OCC recruiter visit the campus.

Updating the agency's IT infrastructure, improving the agency's efficiency, and facilitating the implementation of the Basel II capital standards are also on Mr. Walsh's list of things to do.

Before joining the OCC, Mr. Walsh spent 11 of 14 years as the executive director at the Group of Thirty, a nonprofit that explores global economic and financial policy questions. He was an international program analyst at the Office of Management and Budget from 1978 to 1984 and then spent two years as an international economist at the Treasury Department.

Mr. Walsh, 55, lives in his hometown of Baltimore with his wife Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. They have four children, Sarah, 25; Emily, 23; Jack, 19; and Ted 16.

A part-time passion is a foundation working to reopen a school in Kenya for at-risk Baltimore boys. The Baraka School was closed in 2003 after a terrorist attack in Mombassa drove the school's liability insurance too high.

"The students targeted by programs like Baraka are falling through the cracks of the education system ... probably headed for jail or the morgue," Mr. Walsh said. "Yet these boys have the same capacity as any other teenager to succeed in life. We are simply not prepared to throw them away." (c) 2006 American Banker and SourceMedia, Inc. All rights reserved





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Story Source: American Banker

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