The CAN DO Board of Directors today announced that Joseph Lettiere, a 19-year veteran of CAN DO, has been chosen to succeed Kevin O’Donnell as the head of the organization upon O’Donnell’s retirement at the end of next year.
Lettiere will become only the third paid CEO of CAN DO since its founding in 1956, following in the footsteps of Joseph Yenchko who served from 1963 until 1985 and O’Donnell who took over the top position upon Yenchko’s retirement.
“When Kevin announced that he was going to retire at the end of next year, our Governance Committee met to discuss a possible successor and, after much discussion and deliberation for this important task, it was a unanimous decision to recommend Joe Lettiere based on his knowledge of all aspects of our organization and his local ties and commitment to the area,” said William Magnotta, CAN DO’s Chairman.
“Joe has been an instrumental member of our staff for nearly 20 years and has risen in the ranks from an economic development specialist to our director of marketing and then a vice president, and today Joe has been promoted to our executive vice president with the plan of preparing to step in as CEO upon Kevin’s departure,” Magnotta said.
O’Donnell said, “Since coming to CAN DO, Joe has been involved with some of the largest projects CAN DO has seen including Network Solutions, Simmons, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, AutoZone, Coca Cola, U.S. Cold Storage, and most recently, American Eagle Outfitters and IRIS USA. He is a real asset to the CAN DO organization”
Soon after Lettiere began his career, the Pennsylvania SelectSites/SelectTech-Sites program was launched and Lettiere was tasked with preparing applications for land in CAN DO’s parks and the CAN DO Corporate Center. The advantage of the SelectSite and SelectTech-Sites designations was that businesses were assured that at least part of their site and community evaluation processes had already been completed for them by a leading national site consultant.
After months of work on the applications, Pennsylvania designated 14 CAN DO properties as SelectTech Sites.
“Having to work on the SelectSites just fast-forwarded my understanding of the organization and knowledge of economic development tenfold. I was forced to learn not only about all of CAN DO’s sites and the community, but also about utilities, zoning, setbacks and much, much more,” he said. “It was through that process that I had the opportunity, early in my career, to work with Kevin directly and have access to his expertise. I remember Kevin celebrating our accomplishment of achieving those designations; it was a significant moment in my career.”
Soon after the SelectSites project was completed, the Great Valley Technology Alliance (GVTA), a regional collaborative, was founded to improve technological infrastructure in the region and Lettiere was appointed as project manager. It was the beginning of an effort to promote the technology benefits of locating to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“Through the GVTA, I recognized the respect our peers throughout the northeast and the state had for CAN DO,” he said.
Lettiere has played key roles in promoting Northeastern Pennsylvania for business and industry. He is a past chairman of the Penn’s Northeast Board of Directors and still serves on its executive committee. He is a member of the International Economic Development Council and the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association. He serves on many boards including Luzerne County Community College Board of Trustees, the Pennsylvania State University Hazleton Campus Advisory Board and the AllOne Charities Board of Directors.
“I’m a product of the success of CAN DO. My dad worked at one of the plants in CAN DO’s park which, in part, allowed my parents to give me a better life. I was able to go to college and advance my education, and, without realizing the significance growing up, the jobs that CAN DO brought to this community played a role in my future,” he said.
Lettiere praised the support O’Donnell provided him throughout the years. “It was his vision, his willingness to be flexible, the encouragement to take on additional responsibility that helped move my career forward.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunities this organization has given me personally and professionally, Kevin in particular. It’s been tremendous,” Lettiere said.
Lettiere praised the many volunteers that built the CAN DO organization over the years and talked about the time that those volunteers give to the organization. “I was fortunate to meet and gain insight from the early founders of CAN DO from Dr. Dessen to Art Krause, Paul Cerula and Joe Yenchko. Each board member, especially those that give their time on our executive board, have helped guide the direction of this organization. So many of those volunteers have been generous enough to share their knowledge and experience with me through the years.”
Magnotta said, “We’re certainly going to miss Kevin as he has been a most valued leader of CAN DO but we are certain that Joe will continue the legacy that Kevin and Joe Yenchko have established as the only two paid leaders of our organization since it was founded in 1956.”