My Valley of the Sun: Margaret Dunn of Ollie the Trolley

The founder of Scottsdale’s trolley services discusses an ultimate route, her own daily-driver automobile, and what would happen if she played golf with Annika.

Driving, dining and perfect-par golfing (it’s a dream) with the founder and president of mass-transit networks used by Scottsdale residents and seasonal visitors

What’s your “elevator pitch” about your line of work?

When people ask me, “What’s Dunn Transportation?” I simply tell them that we operate Ollie the Trolley in Scottsdale. Then they freak out about how much they love Ollie! One of the best things about being in business for nearly 30 years is that you get great name recognition. Ollie’s an icon, so I lead with that. Then I follow up by explaining that Dunn provides fixed-route service for the City of Scottsdale with more a million people boarding per year. Basically, we’re the hometown transit company.

Actual mileage aside, what attractions or points of pride throughout the Valley of the Sun do you wish you could include in one convenient trolley route?

It would be a really long trolley route. We’d stop at the Heard Museum, then the Irish Cultural Center. Then we’d visit Desert Botanical Garden, Musical Instrument Museum and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

What do you, personally, drive on a daily basis?

I drive the most fabulous car in the world, a Tesla Model S. As a graduate from the ASU School of Sustainability, my first motivation was to drive something with a lighter carbon footprint. Then I drove a Tesla and fell in love. I visited the Tesla gallery inside Scottsdale Fashion Square maybe five times and was ready to fly to California for a test drive when a friend and fellow Tesla owner let me drive hers. I ordered one online that day—which maybe sounds odd, but Arizona’s antiquated laws make that the only way to buy a Tesla. What a terrific car: quiet and so super-fast I have to be careful not speed too much. Driving in the HOV lane by myself during rush hour and plugging it in at night rank high on the list of perks.

What is your highest academic degree? And what’s your favorite form of mindless entertainment?

I earned an MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in 2012. Mindless entertainment? Bingeing on Netflix. Right now I’m watching “House of Cards” season three.

Who’s in your household and where do you live?

My son Nick is 14 and a freshman at Chaparral High School, and a really cool kid. We live in Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch and love it.

How do you hope to celebrate Mother’s Day?

Spending the day with Nick, going for a workout at LA Fitness and having lunch at The Vig: burgers, a blood Mary, and live music on the patio.

Where do you go to get some quality alone time?

On the trail at Pinnacle Peak.

Pinnacle Peak

Where do you always seem to run into someone you know?

La Bocca on Mill Avenue.

What’s your favorite restaurant to escape to when it’s 100 degrees outside? What do you order?

Cowboy Ciao for the Stetson Chopped Salad, of course, and a white [wine] flight.

Margaret Dunn’s Perfect Day in Arizona

Joya Spa

The ideal “Margaret” day would be 75 degrees, without a cloud in the sky. I would start out with some chai tea by the pool, then zip over to TPC for my long-awaited golf round with Annika, where my typical 105 score would magically turn to 72.

By midday, I’d be ready to gear down, and I’d splurge on a spa package at Joya after lunch on the patio of Prado.

As the sun sets, friends would gather for drinks at jade bar—what a view. Then we’d be off to dinner at The Mission in Scottsdale, followed by an Aretha Franklin concert at Rhythm Room.

jade bar

Lisa Polacheck
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