Yolanda Barco

Yolanda Barco was a 1949 Pitt Law Graduate and a trailblazer in the cable television industry, despite often being overshadowed by her father's legacy. She achieved several notable firsts, including becoming the first woman general manager of a cable system, the first woman elected to the NCTA board of directors, and the first woman to serve as president of a state cable industry association, where she served three terms, a feat unmatched by anyone else. Additionally, Yolanda was the first woman to receive the Vanguard Award for Leadership.

Born on March 13, 1926 to Emmaline DeLorenzo Barco and George Barco, Yolanda was raised in Meadville, PA. George Barco adopted Yolanda and her sister, Helene, when he married their mother. Despite societal expectations for women at the time, George Barco encouraged Yolanda to pursue a career beyond homemaking, instilling in her a passion for law and politics. With this support, Yolanda excelled academically, graduating as valedictorian of her high school class. Following in her father's footsteps, she attended Allegheny College following graduation, graduating magna cum laude with a deep fascination and skill in economics.

Yolanda had initially contemplated pursuing graduate studies in economics in lieu of law school , offered various fellowships from universities to study the discipline, but her father convinced her other wise, saying "go one year to law school, every woman should go to law school for one year." Many law schools were not accepting female students and would not admit women for several more years, though she entered the University of Pittsburgh’s program in the fall of 1943, ultimately followed her father's advice to attend law school, something not done by many women at the time. When she completed her education in 1949 with a Doctor of Jurisprudence and as a member of the Law Review, of the 127 members of the class of 1949, 122 were men and 5 were women. At that time, Yolanda’s class contained the largest number of women ever admitted to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

After passing the Pennsylvania Bar Exam, Yolanda joined her father's law firm, Barco & Barco, as full partner in Meadville. She became the sole female lawyer in northwest Pennsylvania, and one of maybe fifteen in Pittsburgh. Yolanda's involvement in the founding of Meadville Master Antenna marked the beginning of her significant contributions to the cable industry.

While Yolanda's impact on the cable industry is well-documented, little is known about her personal life. She remained unmarried and without children, and those who knew her best have passed. Despite this, Yolanda was known for her kindness, determination, and sense of humor, which she used to navigate business meetings and make her points effectively. Yolanda's dedication to giving back to her community and upholding her father's educational ideals was evident throughout her life. She regretted not pursuing a career in Pennsylvania's government, a dream influenced by her father's guidance. However, her commitment to the cable industry prevented her from pursuing this path.

On the occasion of her death in 2000, the General Assembly of Pennsylvania released Senate Resolution No. 187 stating that Yolanda Barco was “a remarkable and successful woman whose extensive contributions to the cable television industry and promotion of the use of communications technology for the public benefit are recognized with admiration and respect".

Yolanda Barco's legacy in the cable industry paved the way for future generations of women. She believed that leadership, especially in the cable industry, starts with education and community involvement. Despite her achievements, Yolanda remained humble, always prioritizing the greater good over personal gain. Yolanda's impact on the cable industry and her community was profound, showcasing her as a pioneering leader and a role model for women in business and law.