A New Jersey native, Marcella Barry, FCRH ’92, GSE ’96, knew she wanted to stay in the tri-state area for college, but it was Fordham’s strong Jesuit tradition, its New York City location, and its expansive network that really pulled her in. It’s a decision she’s never regretted making. To this day, she thanks the University for teaching her how to think—how to be discerning, challenge norms, and lead.

In her role as chief people officer at Phoenix Tower International, a wireless infrastructure company, Barry is responsible for “the whole people aspect regarding strategy, leadership, talent acquisition, retention, benefits, and payroll.” She is grateful to Fordham for the education she gained and the connections she forged—an underlying connectivity she taps into daily to help her thrive professionally (her last three bosses attended Jesuit schools) and personally (her husband, Tom, is Jesuit educated, too).

Embrace Your Past to Claim Your Future

This gratitude is why she works to uplift current students. A first-generation college graduate, she’s particularly interested in helping students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

Her parents, who immigrated to New Jersey from Italy, always pushed her to succeed, Barry said, adding that they were “dumbfounded” with pride when she graduated.

“Embrace that you are first-generation,” she said at an intimate ceremony for first-generation graduates in May 2022. “Talk about it because it defines who you are, and in life, it’s those stories that are really important to tell; you’re telling what your story is. Always embrace where you came from … because it defines who you become.”

All in the Fordham Family

Barry wants students and young alumni alike to connect with each other and remember how powerful the Fordham network is. With a tendency to keep her head down and just work, she didn’t always “realize the importance of networking and of really keeping that pipeline open.” But maintaining those connections—and creating new ones—is necessary for access to different opportunities, Barry said.

“Stay connected to Fordham because it’s a very strong community and it opens doors,” she said. “I graduated in 1992, and I’m still coming back; they’re still having me.”

Barry supports the Fordham Founder’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund and serves as vice chair of the President’s Council, a group of successful professionals and philanthropists who are committed to mentoring Fordham’s future leaders, funding key initiatives, and raising the University’s profile. The latter enables her to rekindle the excitement she felt as a student at Rose Hill.

“When I’m working with the people on the council, I still feel like I’m a student: eager and motivated,” she said. “And that same eagerness and adrenaline that I had every day I walked on campus, and I was so excited to be there, I’m feeling that now.”