Seattle City (spot)Light: Leigh Barreca

City Light's Leigh Barreca spent three years in the Peace Corps, an experience that exemplifies her love of travel and volunteerism.

Leigh Barreca is the Strategic Planning project manager in the Power Supply and Strategic Planning business unit, a position she attained after 26 years of service at the utility. After joining City Light in 1990, Leigh spent her first 26 years in the information technology group and the Corporate Performance Division.

Leigh received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Idaho and her MBA from the University of Washington. In between her college stints, she spent three years in the Peace Corps, an experience that exemplifies her love of travel and volunteerism and which she was happy to discuss for the Seattle City (spot)Light.

 

Strategic Planning Project Manager Leigh Barreca

 

“I come from a quite conservative family in Idaho, and much of what I heard in those surroundings didn’t ring true to me. I was always seeking a voice to describe my own belief system. Going to college in Idaho didn’t expand my world much,” said Leigh.

“My mother often talked about how she wished she had gone into the Peace Corps. Her father was in the Air Force and so she had traveled a lot as a child. Even though we didn’t travel much as a family, my mother always talked about travel in a way that made me think I might like to do it. At some point in college during my last semester, I saw an ad for the Peace Corps so I applied,” said Leigh.

“I was one of the first Peace Corps volunteers from the University of Idaho. I decided to apply in February and was on a plane to Gabon in June. I was an English major, but I had a minor in secondary education and French, so I was the perfect person to send to French-speaking Africa to teach English.”

“When I got to the Peace Corps, I realized that I’d had a sheltered upbringing. That blew the doors open for me. I spent two years in Gabon before I heard about a new Peace Corps program in West Africa that involved training African English teachers. I ended up in Togo traveling around the region on a motorcycle, holding workshops on teaching techniques.”

“I’ve always felt like you should help people if you can, in areas that you feel are important. And that’s led me to become a lifelong volunteer. Recently I’ve worked for Catholic community services at a downtown women’s shelter and now I’m finishing up my fourth term on the board of a social service agency on Bainbridge Island.”

“It’s really important to me to work on things that I believe in. I’m proud of the fact that I work for a city and an organization whose values largely reflect my own.”