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Vice-President of Administration Jean Tippins retires, ending 18-year career at NFA

Jean Tippins, who recently retired from NFA after serving 18 years as its Vice-President of Administration, is a strong proponent of corporate history. She believes that studying an organization's history can tell you a lot about its strengths, its weaknesses and its chances for survival.

"One of the reasons I accepted (NFA President) Bob Wilmouth's offer to join him at NFA was the opportunity to build a new organization from the ground up," says Tippins. "I came from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBT), which was a well-established organization with a 150-year history. I wanted to help create NFA's history."

Looking back on NFA's early days, Tippins admits that she had only a vague idea of what she and Wilmouth were getting into when NFA began operations in 1982.

"We had congressional mandates to provide registration, compliance, arbitration and education programs, but it was up to us to define exactly how NFA would accomplish its objectives," says Tippins.

One of the early challenges NFA faced was developing strong working relationships with the various sectors of the industry. Fortunately, Tippins discovered the commitment to self-regulation was industrywide.

"NFA owes a great deal to its Members and other industry professionals who volunteered their time and knowledge, especially in the areas of rule development and enforcement," says Tippins. "Those relationships have benefited NFA throughout its history and are just as important today as they were in 1982."

When asked to list the major reason for NFA's success, Tippins immediately answers, "staffing."

"I can't stress enough the importance of proper staffing," says Tippins. "From the beginning, we were lucky to find the right people for the right jobs. And I think we have continued to find new ways to effectively use our staff."

Tippins also credits NFA's success to sound financial planning and operating efficiencies.

"We were always reminding ourselves that NFA is a Member organization, funded by the users of the marketplace," says Tippins. "That was the foundation for all of our budgetary decisions. We have always been committed to operating as cost-efficiently as possible."

Although Tippins won't venture to predict what lies ahead for the futures industry and NFA, she is willing to put today's uncertainties into perspective.

"When I joined the CBT in 1975, the industry was facing a lot of changes and there was a lot of uncertainty. For the next 25 years, there always seemed to be an impending crisis looming on the horizon. But the futures industry has survived. Even though it is again facing a lot of changes, I think the industry and NFA will continue to flourish."

If Tippins is correct in her assessment of NFA's future (and there's no reason to doubt that she isn't), she must share in the credit. Her contributions to the organization's strong foundation and reputation make up an important part of NFA's history.

"From the day she walked through NFA's doors to the day she left, Jean was a vital component of NFA's success," said NFA President Robert Wilmouth. "It is not an exaggeration to state that NFA would not be the organization it is today if it were not for Jean Tippins."

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