Barbara Teaford, Class IX, started a new bank in Philadelphia, raised $10 million to capitalize the bank and secured the regulatory approvals, but her major motivation was “finding money to help developers working in low-income housing, nonprofits with important missions and women beginning business ventures.”  Read the profile of this Wharton MBA graduate and learn more about what this accomplished GNLer has been up to since her “retirement.”

Where did you grow up, and where have you spent most of your life?  I grew up in MacLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., however, my father was with the foreign service, so I spent some growing-up years in Portugal and Egypt.  We experienced an earlier evacuation of Egypt in 1956. I have spent most of my life, 34 years, in Philadelphia, PA where I married and settled after college.

What best characterizes your life’s work? Even though I graduated from Mount Holyoke with a BA in Philosophy, I established a career in business. First, I worked for the Housing Association of Delaware Valley focusing on providing low income housing. It was difficult raising funds, and I decided I needed to follow the money to make things happen. I went to Wharton and earned an MBA in Finance and then joined a large bank, Philadelphia National (now Wells Fargo) where I worked for eight years. Then I joined with four other bankers to establish Regent National Bank. Initially I worked on the lending side, but eventually I became President.  I was in banking for 20 years.

What do you believe is the most important factor or experience influencing your character or leadership development? Clearly it was the role model my mother provided. She was highly educated for her generation, nearly completing a PhD. Her message to me was always, “You can do whatever you want to do.” Secondly, I think going to a woman’s college was important; I received the same message there.

What is the most challenging thing you have done?  Starting a new bank was a major challenge. Raising $10 million to capitalize the bank, doing the “dog and pony” shows to attract private investors, making marketing plans, selecting a site in central Philadelphia, and securing all the regulatory approvals were some of the tasks. My major motivation was finding money to help developers working in low-income housing, nonprofits with important missions, and women beginning business ventures.

What do you consider your most significant accomplishment? I believe that in the time during which I have lived, being able to balance a successful career while raising two wonderful children and staying in a good marriage for 42 years has been my major accomplishment.  I feel no guilt about women’s roles, and I am proud I could put it all together.

How long have you lived in Naples and what brought you here?  My husband’s parents lived here, and he also had a close childhood friend who urged us to consider Naples.  We purchased a home in 1996 but could visit only once a month for four years. In 2000 both Steve and I retired. We had just built our new home, when I received a call to join a team to rescue a failing bank in San Francisco. We made a quick decision to live in San Francisco temporarily (nearly two years), and we loved the adventure. We returned and became more permanently settled for seven months a year in 2003. Summers we are on Chesapeake Bay, an hour from Philadelphia.

What do you think is Collier County’s greatest need?  It is economic diversity. The county must have a tax base that includes light industry as well as middle-income families, particularly so there can be funds for needed social services.

What is an issue in Collier County that you care deeply about?  My number one concern is healthcare for economically disadvantaged women.  We have very little available for this population, and if young women go to a physician, it is usually a gynecologist. That is why I am committed to helping Planned Parenthood reach this group.

What community projects are you involved with, and what impact is that having on your life? I am currently Vice Chair of the Board of Planned Parenthood, and my mission is to raise consciousness about what this organization accomplishes and how it provides very essential services to economically disadvantaged men and women. It may be surprising that one in four women in the United States will have visited Planned Parenthood in their lifetimes. Ninety-seven percent of this work is cancer screening and family planning services. Last year 3000 cervical and breast cancer screenings were performed in the Collier County Affiliate.  The organization performs HIV testing and provides vasectomies for men.

My goal is to have more people understand the necessity of these services. Raising funds for this nonprofit organization is important, but equally essential is getting people to stand up and say how much we need these services for a large proportion of people in our community. Understanding this has had a significant impact on me; I want to help.

What has been the greatest outcome for you from being part of GNL? It has been a place for me to meet and nurture good friendships of like-minded people.  But the experience also helped me to see the whole community and very quickly discover where I wanted to focus my efforts to serve.

Have you any words of wisdom you would like to share?  Yes. Do not be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.

Photo of Barbara Teaford by Dana Vannoy