Posted: February 21, 2024

Check out our conversation with Krista Schneider, PennTAP technical advisor at Penn State Hazleton, about her experiences doing community and economic development work in a dramatically changing and diversifying small Pennsylvania city.

Session Description 

Hazleton, Pennsylvania has changed significantly since its founding in 1857. Historically a coal mining town, the city of 30,000 is now home to a growing Hispanic community representing 65% of the population. In 2013, Krista Schneider began working with a local nonprofit community and economic development organization that collaborates with a coalition of community organizations to revitalize the city’s downtown. Reflecting on eight years working with the community alliance, Krista will share stories that illustrate the process and challenges of doing community and economic development work in a dramatically changing and diversifying small PA city. Krista will share some of the key lessons she learned from the community engagement process, including the importance of building trust, conversations concerning cultural identity, and Hispanic representation in organizational leadership, as well as insights into the mindset needed to affect institutional change. This session will be interactive, and participants are invited to raise questions and share insights from their own experiences. 

Storyteller Bio 

Based out of Penn State Hazleton, Krista Schneider is a PennTAP technical advisor serving Northeast Pennsylvania. Prior to joining PSU in 2021, she served for eight years as the founding Executive Director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress where she was responsible for the strategic planning, fundraising, and implementation of more than $6M of targeted revitalization initiatives. Krista’s professional background includes more than twenty years of experience in land planning and design, community and economic development, historic preservation, and academia. She is also currently pursuing her PhD in Architecture at Penn State and her research is focused on investigating the role of place and public scholarship in inclusive, innovation-driven economic development. 

About the Series

The focus of the “Stories from the Field” series is on the “why” and “how” of community engagement and applied research. For each session, we invite the speaker(s) to tell us about their work and share stories that illustrate why they approach their work the way they do and how it looks and feels on the ground. After speakers share stories to springboard conversation, we open a facilitated discussion with attendees about the challenges and opportunities of doing work with and for communities, businesses, non-profits, and the public sector. Stories from the Field is hosted by Penn State's Center for Economic and Community Development, an applied research center dedicated to strengthening local and regional development in Pennsylvania and beyond.