Janet Johnson Bullard ’69

A Philanthropist with a Heart of Gold

A true philanthropist with a heart of gold, Janet Johnson Bullard coupled determination and humility to create a life of abundance that, by her standards, is only worthwhile when shared.

“Everyone you meet has a story.” These simple yet profound words, spoken by Janet Johnson Bullard at the June 6, 2023, Alumni Awards event where she was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Delbridge Spirit of Philanthropy Award, serve as a reminder that each person’s life is a narrative, often marked by struggles, challenges, and triumphs. Bullard’s own story is remarkable. She defied stereotypes, shattered glass ceilings, and pursued her dreams. Paving the way for future generations, Bullard is a quintessential philanthropist who believes that giving back is a key ingredient to happiness. A woman of abiding faith, Bullard regularly quotes the following biblical verse: “To whom much is given, much is required.” Living each day in that spirit, Bullard leaves an indelible mark on all those she meets and the University she holds dear.

Breaking Barriers

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In the early 1960s, Janet Johnson Bullard embarked on her educational journey with a determination to prove her skeptics wrong, hearing over and over again that a woman could not achieve what she was aspiring to accomplish in a field dominated by men. Instead, those very sentiments served as the catalyst that propelled her forward. Enrolling in evening classes to study business administration at Western New England College, Bullard recalls the first night she walked into the classroom, finding herself to be the sole woman among many aspiring business students. Far from deterring her, this stark reality fortified her resolve. With a deeply felt desire to excel, Bullard went on to challenge societal norms and redefine what women of her generation were capable of achieving.

Throughout her scholarly career at WNE, Bullard was blessed with dedicated and motivated faculty who expanded her horizons. They encouraged her to embrace opportunities, explore new ideas, and break free from any imposed limitations. Six years of part-time evening school later, Bullard emerged with a bachelor’s degree and a clear sense that she had made a tangible step toward reaching her dreams. In that same year, she received a promotion at work, earning the title of assistant trust investment officer—a position that allowed her to manage investments just as her male counterparts did.

Bullard did not stop at that milestone. Equipped with a solid education and her natural tendency for self-motivation, she went on to establish her own investment management firm, breaking even more barriers in the process. Over time, she built a successful career in a field still traditionally dominated by men, all the while making a lasting impact on both the academic and financial worlds.

A Dedicated Alumna

Having graduated from Western New England’s College of Business in 1969, Bullard remains passionate about the power of education and the pivotal role the University played in her journey. Not surprisingly, Bullard’s appreciation translates into action. She served on the University’s Board of Trustees and was an honorary co-chair of the Second Century Campaign. She also served on the College of Business’s Portfolio Management Advisory Board, and in 2019, was the keynote speaker for the WNE Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society induction ceremony, where she was made an honorary member. Bullard is a current member of the College of Business Advisory Board, and she is especially delighted each time she connects with students.

Dr. Sharianne Walker, dean of the College of Business, aptly captures Bullard’s remarkable impact: “Janet Johnson Bullard’s unflagging support and generous contributions have significantly enriched our College of Business. Her dedication to our students and her commitment to providing opportunities for their growth are truly inspiring. Janet’s passion for our University is immeasurable, and we will be forever grateful for her presence in our lives.”

A Philanthropist with a Heart of Gold

Philanthropy is a philosophy that embodies the selfless act of giving to create a positive impact on society. Janet Johnson Bullard exemplifies the spirit of philanthropy in its truest form, with her altruism extending beyond the financial realm. She engages with those who are recipients of her generosity, and she hears their stories and touches their lives with her warmth and kindness.

Bullard’s giving to the University is thoughtfully designed to support a wide range of needs. Several years ago, she established the Janet Johnson Bullard Endowed Scholarship and the Janet Johnson Bullard Finance Educational Enrichment Endowed Fund, both designed to benefit students and faculty in the College of Business. During the Second Century Campaign, Bullard made a $3 million lead gift through a planned gift to establish the University’s first-ever endowed chair, the Janet Johnson Bullard Endowed Chair in Finance, and the University was delighted to recognize Bullard’s commitment and generosity by naming the College of Business Dean’s Suite in Churchill Hall in her honor.

Bullard’s leadership giving peaked in May of 2023 with the creation of two more remarkable funds through her bequest intentions: the Janet Johnson Bullard Women of Distinction Endowed Scholars Program and the Janet Johnson Bullard Endowed Fund for Financial Literacy. These funds exemplify her desire to empower and educate the next generation. The Women of Distinction Fund will support female students in their pursuit of excellence, while the Financial Literacy Fund will provide essential resources to help students gain a deeper understanding of both personal and professional financial matters.

A Record-Setting Legacy

Janet Johnson Bullard’s incredible generosity has made her the largest donor in the University’s history, with her giving now exceeding $10 million. Bullard’s philanthropic efforts not only transform Western New England’s educational landscape, but also enrich the lives of countless students. Through her various endowed funds, Bullard will make a profound impact that extends beyond the confines of the classroom. Her carefully crafted giving reflects her determination, resilience, and steadfast commitment to breaking down barriers. Bullard’s story is not only one of personal success but also serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all those who strive to challenge the status quo and create a more inclusive and equitable world.

Western New England University President Robert E. Johnson expresses his admiration for Bullard’s remarkable and transformative philanthropy: “Janet’s contributions to our University have been nothing short of extraordinary. Her generosity and devotion to WNE make a profound impact on our students and the entire University community. Janet’s legacy is a testament to the power of philanthropy, and because of her magnanimous support, we are able to further our mission and provide opportunities for students and faculty that will last a lifetime.”

Inaugural Recipient of the Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award

The Delbridge name is well known at Western New England University and has become synonymous with philanthropy and leadership. In September 2022, in honor of Kevin ’77 and Sandra Delbridge’s remarkable philanthropy and the positive impact they make on our students, the University created the Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award.

Last spring, the University selected Janet Johnson Bullard ’69 to be the inaugural recipient of the Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award, with her impressive contributions and never-failing commitment to Western New England serving as the embodiment of the values that Kevin and Sandra Delbridge have championed. She mirrors their charitable intentions, and like them, she keeps students at the heart of her philanthropic endeavors.

At the Alumni Awards Ceremony last June, Kevin and Sandra Delbridge personally presented this award to Bullard. During their remarks, Kevin said: “Sandra and I could not imagine a more deserving first recipient of our award. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all you do for Western New England University. It is an honor, and with overwhelming gratitude, that we and the University bestow upon you the Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award.”

A Zest for Life

Beyond her philanthropic endeavors, Janet Johnson Bullard is an exceptional individual. To meet her is to be lucky, and to know her is a gift. Her relationships are lifelong, and she is a devoted friend who cherishes the bonds she shares with others. She is a keen listener, a world traveler, an avid reader, and a student of history—among many other interesting attributes. Her infectious smile and twinkling eyes reflect her zest for life. To Bullard, life is a wonderful and fulfilling journey, even in the most challenging of times. Generous in spirit, Bullard is always willing to offer her wisdom and support to those in need. Her greatest joy is getting to know people on a personal level, valuing the unique qualities and experiences that make each individual special.

A Beacon of Light

Janet Johnson Bullard’s inspiring journey is a reminder that every person has the potential to overcome adversity and break barriers. Her life story is filled with anecdotes where determination, confidence, and courage were the underpinnings to her personal and professional satisfaction and achievements. Always a role model, Bullard continues to challenge herself—and others—to be agents of positive change and advocates for progress.

A shining example of how one individual can make a profound impact on the world through the power of generosity and a heart filled with compassion, Bullard shared the following with the audience when she received the Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award: “My current goal is to encourage students to pursue whatever career that will provide them with a sense of accomplishment and service. And to enjoy life to the fullest! May some of your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have the privilege of standing at this podium one day to express their thanks for what their education enabled them to achieve. Western New England University did it for me and will do it for them.”

The entire University community is honored that Bullard has chosen to share her story, her life, and her philanthropy with them. Indeed, Janet Johnson Bullard is a beacon of light and inspiration to all who have the privilege of knowing her.