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January 1, 2003

A Man For All Seasons: Nasdaq's Reagan economist, Alaskan wild man and inner-city education advocat

By Gregory Bresiger

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  • A Man For All Seasons: Nasdaq's Reagan economist, Alaskan wild man and inner-city education advocat

Dean Furbush, well known to the trading industry as one of the major players working on the SuperMontage platform, has led an unconventional life outside of his executive vice president duties with Nasdaq.

Furbush, 44, who grew up in Seattle and was educated as a neo-classical/Chicago monetary school economist, served as an economics adviser for the Center for Naval Analyses. He was an economist for the SEC. He was also an economic adviser in the second Reagan administration, working for the Council of Economic Advisers.

He also worked as an adviser to the CFTC. He worked as a commercial fisherman. He married a brilliant woman who worked for the National Security Administration and served as an adviser to Colin Powell, President Reagan's National Security Adviser in the late 1980s. An intelligent analyst, she also worked in the situation room during Operation Desert Storm.

Furbush also helped start a program that counsels poor young people on finding and applying for the right university. He follows up to encourage them to finish their education. He has also taken unusual vacations around the globe - with his four children and his wife, Helen.

They are, in a word, unusual.

When abroad, it must be rare to find them with fellow Americans. The Furbushes want more than just a taste of the local cultures.

To the People

The Furbush philosophy of vacations, to paraphrase the sentiments of some radicals in 19th century Czarist Russia, is "to go to the people." Said Furbush, ever the economist, "what we tend to do is to find people in the economy and go hang out with them."

He has been to remote parts of Alaska. He has been ice fishing with friends. He has been to West Africa. He has helped English farming friends with their "lambing." He has driven a car from New Delhi in the sub continent and visited Nepal in the Himalayas. This tradition of unusual vacations began with his wife early in their marriage and has continued with his four children, ranging in ages from 14 to 9, who are now a part of these interesting trips, which appear to be more educational seminars on the world instead of holidays.

"My wife and I always talk about what would be a pretty neat thing to do," Furbush said. "We've just been interested in the world and getting out in it," he said.

For instance, one vacation Furbush and his family spent moving sheep, shoveling muck and feeding pigs. That's not exactly the fare on the menu of your travel agent.

"I have a friend who is a shepherd in the North of England and one spring we timed it to go during the lambing season and spend some time with them and help them through the lambing." Furbush and his wife stayed in Togo, in West Africa, with a Peace Corps volunteer friend.

This past summer, Furbush and his family went to a rural part of Alaska, fishing with friends. Another time they were "up and down" the Nile in the spring of 2001, a trip he is not sure that will be able to take again in the near future because of security concerns.