Eastern Expands Community Engagement and Partnerships Department with New Hires

Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College has expanded its Community Engagement and Partnerships department with the hiring of four new employees to help carry out its mission of providing affordable and accessible academic, technical, workforce training, and life-long learning for the Potomac Highlands regional community.

Amanda Gross has been hired as the Program Assistant I, Workforce Education. Originally from Pasadena, Maryland, Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. In her role, Gross serves as the primary point of contact for students and parents for the Workforce Education Department by performing clerical, administrative, and customer service support functions.

She supports the department with admissions and financial aid functions, and supports students gain access to certification and training skillsets that prepare them for successful workforce careers. In her spare time, Gross enjoys swimming, watching Pittsburgh Steelers football and spending time with her children.

Maya Paul, Eastern student, has been hired to serve as the Americorps Makerspace VISTA Fellow. Paul resides in Tucker County and is currently pursuing an Associate in Art degree at Eastern. In this role, Paul works on developing and supporting programming directly with K-12 students in partnership with schools, volunteers, makerspaces and post-secondary institutions to help students build the academic, social and emotional skills key to their success in school, postsecondary enrollment and workforce placement.

She also leads outreach and recruitment of local partners to serve as anchors of transformative learning experiences for the local community by lowering the barriers to accessing makerspaces, fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment, and developing culturally relevant maker-centered learning programs focused on communities of color, girls, and underserved populations. Prior to starting this role, Paul served as a teaching assistant in a Montessori classroom for a semester and as a work study student at Eastern. Her hobbies include hiking, kayaking, painting, and baking.

Patricia Halterman has been hired to serve as the Ag Workforce Fellowship and Student Training Coordinator. This position is supported by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), which seeks to counter the loss of skilled agribusiness labor and develop an ag workforce within the Potomac Highlands Region of eastern West Virginia through applied education, experiential learning, and direct mentorship from experts and ag business owners in the field.

In this role, Halterman serves as the contact for the Farm Fellows and all participants, coordinates enrollment, certification, and collaborates on logistical details of all trainings She holds a Bachelor of Science in Family Resources/Dietetics and Master of Science in Human Nutrition both from West Virginia University. Halterman brings 35 years of experience as a public health nutritionist/Registered Dietitian and most recently served as a WIC Program director for an eight-county region. She enjoys gardening, cooking/baking, reading, and walking/hiking.

Marti Neustadt, who has served as the Virtual Agricultural Business Coach since November 2020 with the Potomac Highlands Food Co-op, has taken on an additional role as Makerspace Project Director. Marti will lead the implementation of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Maker Space Project in the Potomac Highlands Regional Schools and Libraries. She will connect and provide to the schools and libraries their desired technology to benefit STEM education and entrepreneurial development as well as coordinate a student competition.

In January 2022, Neustadt will also extend Business Coach support to Eastern’s Agricultural Farm Fellowship Program by providing post training support to participants with business plan development and financing guidance for operational needs. The project will provide one on one resource identification and will match participants with experienced farmers to foster skill set development. Longer term business coaching will be available for Farm Fellows wanting to start up an agribusiness.

Neustadt has experience working as a business advisor and coach to a variety of agricultural enterprises, including the Woodlands Community Lenders and the Natural Capital Investment Fund. She is a graduate of West Virginia University in business administration with an emphasis in finance.   

“It is always exciting to bring expanded programs to serve the College’s community and these individuals bring a great range of skills and abilities to make these programs a success,” said Robert Burns, director of non-profits. “These new hires will greatly support the Department of Community Engagement and Opportunities provide educational programming and better serve Eastern students,” he added.

“We are grateful to have a growing team to continue to build exciting educational programs and trainings to benefit technical, workforce development and life-long learning to persons of the Potomac Highlands regional community stated,” said Megan Webb, dean of community engagement and partnerships.