Aaron Whigham restoring Hope in Pennsylvania
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Favorite Thing about My Community
My favorite thing about our community is the grit and heart of the people.
What was your first interaction with a school-community partnership project?
The first intentional action was a series of analytical meetings we had with the local ministerial community and small business owners. In the meeting, we were trying to glean how we can best serve the community from their perspective. We held two separate meetings on the same day with each community. We asked them a series of thought-provoking questions and presented a plethora of challenges to them. The meeting was extremely engaging and candid. The room was filled with love, laughter, and also pain, and tears as the community members began to share stories about a once-bustling community, now in ruin and blight filling the landscape. At the end of both meetings, we asked each group what does the community need the most. Both groups without hesitation unbeknownst to the other emphatically said “HOPE”. This discovery left us with a pretty daunting task of finding creative ways of creating hope with very limited resources.
How did you first learn about EPIC-N?
I was approached by a colleague to co-present with her.
What are you hoping attendees will take with them after attending your presentation?
For the “Hope Wanted: From Rust to Sustainability” presentation I am hoping to broaden our network and generate new best practices for many universities to use as well as our own.
Aaron Whigham is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Penn State University Greater Allegheny (PSUGA) and founder of the Mon Valley Launchbox. He is a proven pillar in both the campus and local community working to create access points to resources and forging relationships for government and community stakeholders. Aaron’s “win-win-win” approach to leadership has proven to be extremely successful and rewarding to all parties involved.
Over Aaron’s eight-year career at PSUGA, he has led several campus-wide efforts and teams in change and efficiency initiatives that have yielded higher retention and degree conferral rates. Aaron lends his strategic leadership and business acumen to current and aspiring entrepreneurs through the Mon Valley Launchbox, a business incubator that strives to cultivate a solvent ecosystem within the Mon Valley. Aaron has provided local aspiring entrepreneurs with high-level fortune 500 strategies and tactics to help them navigate industry challenges.