Barbara Lettiere hasn’t yet met a glass ceiling she hasn’t been able to crack. She began her career working for Bell Atlantic in the 1970s. Needing to learn the business, she was sent to an installation and repair garage in North Philadelphia. The first woman assigned to one in the area, Lettiere quickly put her master’s degree in economics and statistics to use. She worked her way up to president of Bell Atlantic Federal Systems, helping to secure a billion-dollar contract with the General Services Administration, the company’s largest at the time.
Not long after her retirement from Bell Atlantic, Lettiere was recruited as the CFO of the struggling Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C. There, she worked to “steady the financial ship,” to the point where the school was able to fund a new $30 million science facility.
Things came full circle when she returned to the school where she’d earned her undergraduate degree. Lettiere had served on the Immaculata University board for five years and was its first lay chairperson. As a search for a new president began, board members encouraged her to apply. In 2017, she took office as the first layperson to hold the position. “This job, for me, is not really a job,” she says. “It’s my way of giving back to this institution, which had a large role in getting me to where I was.”
Lettiere has since created a seven-point strategic plan for the university, which matriculated its largest freshmen class in over four years this fall. As Immaculata prepares to celebrate its centennial, Lettiere is eyeing more changes, including additional academic programs and new science labs.