Nancy Coco, director of community outreach at Penn State Lehigh Valley, retired on Jan. 31, after 23 years of service to the campus.
Coco, of Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, began working at Penn State in 1993 when she was hired as a consultant to the Lehigh Valley Writing Project. Coco came on board full time in 2004 as the director of the Lehigh Valley Writing Project. In 2010, she then became the director of continuing education at Penn State Lehigh Valley, while still continuing her position as the director of the Lehigh Valley Writing Project. Coco also served Penn State Hazleton as regional director of continuing education for two years.
Penn State Lehigh Valley’s continuing education department, which Coco directed, assists individuals and organizations in obtaining a competitive advantage through specialized credit and noncredit programming. The department engages in workforce, professional and personal development training programs for all ages including dual enrollment for high school seniors and the Arts Project for teens and adults. It is also a National Writing Project site, delivering a wide array of programming to hundreds of teachers each year in the region.
Coco said one of her favorite parts about working at Penn State Lehigh Valley was the opportunity to provide enriching, meaningful and accessible programming to the community.
“I felt like there was a world of possibilities when I came to Penn State Lehigh Valley. It was an honor to serve the different school districts in the ways that we did, especially through the grants we wrote to directly support students.”
During her tenure, Coco worked on grants with the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, the Allentown Housing Authority and ones with multinational corporations such as Bosch-Rexroth.
Over the years, Coco and her department established ongoing partnerships with the Bethlehem Area School District through the Penn State Pathway to College and Career Readiness Program. Starting last summer, the Penn State Lehigh Valley Easton Employability Experience was launched through a partnership with the Workforce Investment Board, the Easton Area School District, Shiloh Baptist Church, the Boys & Girls Club and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. Coco has also helped make connections for the campus by overseeing a variety of corporate trainings.
Looking back on her years with Penn State Lehigh Valley, Coco said she is proud to be a part of this campus community.
“I have always admired this campus for the dynamic, innovative ways we have defined ourselves. We are always on the move and we stand out in the Penn State system for that. There’s always a ‘what’s next?’” said Coco. “Our campus is a great size and is located in the best part of Pennsylvania. We all know each other and have strong connections, which allow us to be creative together.”
Coco is most proud of her accomplishments with the Lehigh Valley Writing Project. The project has assists local teachers, of all grades and disciplines, to improve their teaching of writing and learning in not only their schools, but in local communities as well.
When asked about her future, Coco said she will continue to write, teach and be of service to the community through volunteering. She also has volunteered to remain a member of the Lehigh Valley Writing Project’s leadership team through the summer.
Many of Coco’s friends and colleagues attended a retirement celebration in her honor on her last day of work, Jan. 31, at the Lehigh Valley campus.