June Lockhart has played second-fiddle to a collie. She's been "Lost in Space." Now, she's working to help a thrift's Community Reinvestment Act compliance efforts.
One of the most famous television moms in history, Ms. Lockhart has moonlighted with First Federal Bank of California in Santa Monica for nearly two decades. Having reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, the energetic actress-banker relinquished her board seat last month. But she is staying active in her role as head of the thrift's executive fair- lending/CRA committee, and preaching the value of the regulation to bankers.
"This is important," Ms. Lockhart said in an interview at the Western League of Savings Institutions' 1996 compliance conference in San Diego last month. "I don't think most banks realize what an opportunity this is for good marketing and PR for the bank."
Few know the importance of public relations better than performers. Her acting career, which has included stints on "Lassie," "Lost in Space," and a still-recurring role on "General Hospital" precludes her from becoming involved in all the thrift's day-to-day operations.
However, Diana Wright, the thrift's CRA officer, said Ms. Lockhart has been a major contributor to First Federal's reinvestment efforts, which are rated "satisfactory" by regulators.
"She's given us a lot," Ms. Wright said. "She's not a figurehead. She's very active."
Ms. Lockhart frequently attends conferences to hear of other institution's endeavors. She is rarely shy about standing up and describing how her committee works, as she did in several sessions of the Western League's conference.
She also gives CRA-related progress reports each month to First Federal's board, and leads quarterly meetings of the executive Fair Lending/CRA committee. Every acting contract she signs includes a clause ensuring she can make those meetings.
"The show will eventually close," Ms. Lockhart said. "The bank won't."
Ms. Lockhart has a deep knowledge of her thrift's projects, said Patricia Martinez with KPMG Peat Marwick's regulatory advisory practice in Costa Mesa, Calif. That indicates Ms. Lockhart is not just another famous name on a board of directors in celebrity-crazy California, Ms. Martinez said.
When she took over the CRA committee, Ms. Lockhart said she had to convince First Federal that "CRA is not a bore."
The thrift has since taken part in several low- and moderate-income lending programs. For example, First Federal has participated in the Savings Associations Mortgage Co. loan pool, which allows the thrift to reduce its exposure to defaults by funding only a portion of a loan. First Federal also is involved in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's affordable-lending programs.
Not that the thrift devotes its resources only to lending initiatives. Ms. Lockhart has worked with a neighborhood group called "Christmas In April" to paint, sod, fix plumbing, and do other repairs to rundown houses in low- or moderate-income areas - all of which is funded by the thrift. Not only does this boost the value of the house and make it more livable, but it provides a photo opportunity and some good publicity for First Federal.
Ms. Lockhart also pushed the thrift to donate to Habitat for Humanity help with renovations around Los Angeles, said Mary Hagerty, program director with the Los Angeles community group. The thrift soon will launch a program to teach low- and moderate-income people how to properly apply for loans.
The actress is not afraid to get her hands dirty. Along with executive vice presidents and other directors, Ms. Lockhart has appeared on-site at several of the thrift's community development efforts.
"She'll be around at some of our future projects," said Ms. Hagerty. "She's really instrumental in making all of this happen."