Theresa Major Payton
In 2006, the White House extended an invitation to Payton to serve as the first woman Chief Information Officer at the White House. Her duties included setting the business and technology information management strategy and direction as part of the Office Administration for the Executive Office of the President. She managed the technology that supports the 3,000 staff members that support the Executive Office of the President both at the White House and at other undisclosed locations. At the White House, Payton had to play roles that were strategic, tactical and troubleshooting. She led her team to enhance the services offered in support of the President and also established a Security Operations Center. Since cyber security issues grow in number and complexity, she and her team implemented an enhanced information assurance and security plan, while also improving the data center operations. Payton served at the White House from May 2006 to September of 2008. When Payton responded to the question, “Where were you born?” her comment was, “This is always a fun question.” According to Payton, she is the proud daughter of a U.S. Marine. She attended nine schools during her K-12 years. Her first two years of high school were at Bishop Shanahan in West Chester, PA. She then moved to Quantico, VA, for her junior and senior years of high school while her Dad was the crew chief of Marine One, the Presidential helicopter. In combination with an M.S. in Management Information Systems from the University of Virginia, and a graduate certificate in Banking from Louisiana State University, Payton has used her bachelor’s degree in Economics/Business Administration (double major) and a computer certification to enhance her career. Reflecting back on Immaculata, Payton succinctly commented, “Immaculata gave me a sound foundation for intellectual growth, the beginning of lifelong adult learning, a firmer grounding in my faith, and a set of lifelong friends.” Currently, Payton serves as CEO and Chief Advisor for Fortalice, LLC, a unique company that provides expertise in the area of risk security compliance, fraud, and quality. She also serves as Charlotte, North Carolina’s weekly host of “Protecting your Cyberturf” on CBS WBTV, and hosts a new program called “Cyber Monday” on the Al Gardner and Stacey Sim’s show on Charlotte’s 1100 WBT AM. With a history of advanced work in strategic and operational technology leadership at both the Bank of America and Wells Fargo Company (First Union/Wachovia) since 1990, Payton has shown the world an expertise recognized at the nation’s highest level. She is active in her community and has been recognized with several awards. A recent award that she received was an invitation to attend the U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar in June 2010. Payton noted that this was a deep, moving, and intellectually challenging seminar. In addition to her work and community service, Theresa and her husband, Chris (he served in the U.S. Navy and is now an executive at Bank of America) are the proud parents of two sons, Kieran (8) and Aidan (5), and daughter Maeve (20 months). Payton acknowledges that her Immaculata education has served her well. Her advice directly to students of today, “Even though some of the information may change over time, the work you do really does prepare you for the work force. You may have ahead of you right now the dreaded thesis. Back in my day, we all had to do a lengthy topic paper (without internet access for research!), and an oral presentation where we were expected to present and lead an active question and answer session. The lessons learned while preparing for that final class project were incredibly valuable. Not only was I prepared for graduate school but also giving presentations to bank executives and customers.” Payton also adds, “Not to mention the wonderful friends I made along the way. I still keep in touch with them and continuously learn professional, personal, and faith lessons from them.” Payton is a woman who has served her country and has represented Immaculata well. A final piece of advice from Payton to Immaculata students, “You will need to continuously train and learn in today’s workforce, so keep in touch with your classmates and teachers.” Payton was guest speaker at this fall’s Honors Convocation at Immaculata. Her loyalty to Immaculata and her appreciation of her Immaculata education was conveyed to the students during her presentation.