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Lafayette’s Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government has hired Diane Elliott as its associate director for public service, a new position that will significantly expand the college’s service to the community and region.

Elliott assumed her new role this month after serving as the college’s director of foundation and corporate relations.

“The primary purpose of the position is to formulate a program that works with local and state governments and acts as a resource for them,” says Elliott. “We will provide students with internships and form teams of students to work on specific projects as Lafayette’s Technology Clinic does. We want to provide training to new officials as well as a place to host forums and meetings.”

“What’s most important is how this position will assist the Meyner Center in providing community service and linking the college more closely with the community and the Lehigh Valley,” says John Kincaid, Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and director of the Meyner Center.

Elliott’s outreach efforts will complement the international and national scholarship and education coordinated by Kincaid through a number of different outlets, including Publius: The Journal of Federalism, which he co-edits, and Lafayette summer institutes organized for foreign scholars and educators as well as high school teachers from around the country.

“The associate director for public service is more specifically directed to help provide information, training, public forums, and research relevant to this region, which includes not only the Lehigh Valley, but the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York,” says Kincaid. “It will substantially increase opportunities for students to participate in public service through internships, practicums, and other activities. For example, students might work on helping to improve economic development and public administration of a local government in the region.”

Elliott is meeting with local officials to learn about their needs and use that input in planning a spring forum that will include Lafayette experts and others. She will inventory what student and faculty resources Lafayette can offer and contact groups such as the Lehigh Planning Commission to establish partnerships.

“I’m really excited about this position,” says Elliott. “I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for the college to be an even greater resource. It’s also taking me back to the community to work with many of the same people with whom I’ve worked before. I’m using all of my previous background as a lawyer, in economic development, and as a grant writer.”

This fall, Elliott also will start advising Lafayette’s mock trial team, which qualified two groups of students for season-ending national tournaments this past school year.

Majoring in psychology, Elliott graduated from Lafayette with a bachelor of arts degree in 1974. She received a J.D. from University of Miami School of Law in 1977 and a master’s in environmental science from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1995. She received the R. Emmet Doherty Clean Air Award from American Lung Association of the Lehigh Valley and the Women’s Club of Allentown in 1994.

Elliott served as a public defender in state and federal court within Bucks and Philadelphia Counties from 1979-1987; a private attorney involved in state and federal civil and criminal litigation and environmental law from 1987-1996; director of community development for Northampton County Development Corp. from 1996-1999; director of Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI) in 1999; and director of Lafayette’s corporation and foundation relations since 1999. Elliott was a Northampton County councilwoman from 1994-1996. In this capacity, she served as vice chair of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Committee of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, and established and chaired the county’s Environmental Committee. She has been an adjunct professor of sociology at Moravian College since 1996 and taught in the Government and Law Department at Lafayette the prior year.

Elliott was instrumental in the formation of Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative, a nonprofit program dedicated to redevelopment of old industrial sites. As its first director, she participated in a mentoring program through the International City/County Management Association of Washington, D.C. LVLRI became a mentor to the City of High Point, N.C., assisting it in efforts to redevelop brownfield sites adjacent to its downtown area. LVLRI received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.

As a consultant in brownfield redevelopment, Elliott serves clients such as Financial Resource for the Environment, a state-wide collaborative effort between the public and private sectors to set up a financing mechanism dedicated to making loans for brownfield redevelopment; Montgomery and Lancaster Counties; and banks, owners, and sellers.

She has worked with many government departments, including Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Reserve Bank, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. She has been a presenter at annual meetings of Pennsylvania Planning Association.

Elliott chaired the Tri-Chamber Environmental Committee for the Two Rivers Chamber of Commerce from 2000-2001 and was a member of its Tri-Chamber Legislative Committee from 2001-2002. She was co-chair of Northampton County Household Hazardous Waste Committee from 1996-2000 and served as a member of both Economic Development Council of the Lehigh Valley and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Forum from 1996-1999. She was a board member of Penn State Cooperative Extension from 1996-2002. She served as a board member of Northampton County Conservation District from 1996-1999 and subsequently as an associate member of the district.

Elliott has given numerous presentations at national, state, and local conferences and workshops. In February, she was a speaker at a two-day workshop in Harrisburg for the Department of Environmental Protection. She was an organizer for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s annual conference for corporate and foundation relations officers in June. She has served as a stand-in at local forums for Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Community and Economic Development officials. She has prepared testimony for the United States Senate, testified before a State House Committee, and assisted in formulating policy at the state and federal level. She has taught high school students from around the country about social policy issues and how to lobby, accompanying them when they used these skills to lobby their senators and congressional representatives in Washington, D.C.

President of Temple Covenant of Peace in Easton, Elliott is one of two local coordinators for the regional biennial conference of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which will be held in Bethlehem in November. She serves on the advisory council of Friends of the Williams Center. She is second vice president of Bushkill Streams Conservancy and has served on several committees of both the Easton and Bethlehem Morning Star Rotary. She co-chaired a Thanksgiving dinner sponsored by ProJeCt for People in Easton last year. She also volunteers in the Bethlehem Area School District.

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