We are happy to announce that Holly Larson Lesko has accepted the position of Program Director for the three-year NSF-funded project entitled “Community-Engaged Engineering Interventions with Appalachian Youth.”  Holly will be working with Dr. Jake Grohs (PI), and Drs. Holly Matusovich, Liesl Baum, & Gary Kirk (CoPIs).  The project focuses on the collaborative design, implementation, and study of recurrent engineering-focused interventions with middle school youth in Bedford, Giles, and Smyth counties.  As Program Director, Holly will cultivate strong relationships with each of our partners (i.e., school system administrators, teachers, industry representatives) and lead the day-to-day programmatic work of collaboratively designing curriculum, facilitating workshops, and regularly documenting and sharing impacts of the project.

Holly joins Engineering Education with over 20 years of experience working within Appalachian regions around critical issues of education, health, equity, community development, and governance.  She recently served as PI on a three-year Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project focused on supporting rural youth in identifying and assessing health needs of their community and incorporated a novel digital storytelling component aimed at empowering the youth to tell their own personal stories. Additionally, her work with the New River Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board has led her to regularly engage regional industry and workforce pipeline partners around vital issues in these communities.  It was clear that Holly has a unique ability to deeply listen to stakeholder needs and facilitate group process towards shared aims and the project team is excited that she will leverage those strengths with their ITEST project.