PA WILDS CENTER STAFF
Founder & CEO
A fourth-generation resident of the region, Ta has a rural entrepreneurship background and 20 years of experience in journalism and public communications in Alaska and Pennsylvania. As Founder and CEO of the PA Wilds Center, Ta has scaled the nonprofit and built a team that is developing models for asset-based rural development that are recognized nationally. Prior to founding the nonprofit in 2013, Ta served as the PA Wilds Small Business Ombudsman for five years, working with entrepreneurs across the 13-county PA Wilds region. She spent 10 years as a news reporter and editor in Alaska, writing for the Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage Press, Dutch Harbor Fisherman, Bristol Bay Times and other publications. Connect on LinkedIn
EVP of Operations
The Center’s first hire, Abbi oversees organization-wide programs, strategies and approaches. She co-founded three of the Center’s most visible programs: The Wilds Cooperative of PA network of rural entrepreneurs; the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a growing retail operation based at state parks in the PA Wilds that help rural entrepreneurs get products to market while improving the visitor experience; and Round-Up for Conservation, a charity checkout campaign that reinvests in state parks and forests in the region. A graduate of Kutztown University, Abbi moved to Los Angeles before relocating to the PA Wilds. She’s served as the leader of an arts nonprofit and in the magazine, fashion and music accessories industries. Connect on LinkedIn
EVP of Finance
Executive Vice President of Finance Julie Iaquinto has been with the PA Wilds Center since its founding. Julie oversees the nonprofit’s finances, grants management and human resources. Julie has lived her entire life in the PA Wilds. Prior to joining the PA Wilds Center, she operated an accounting business for many years serving clients from diverse fields across the public and private sectors. Julie has more than a decade of experience working with nonprofit organizations, including PA Travel and Tourism, PA Route 6 Alliance, Potter County Education Council, Education Council of the Upper Allegany, and Potter County Visitors Association. She has also helped set up and establish both for-profit and nonprofit startups. Connect on LinkedIn
Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Director
LaKeshia manages the PA Wilds entrepreneurial ecosystem, which includes the Wilds Cooperative of PA business network and related partnerships, programs and services. One of the Center’s first hires, LaKeshia has specialized in outreach and communications efforts for the nonprofit, overseeing paid and volunteer content contributors, as well as internal communications and public relations. A PA Wilds native, LaKeshia earned dual degrees in Political Science and Art from Lock Haven University and worked in journalism before transitioning to the nonprofit sector. Connect on LinkedIn
PA Wilds Conservation Shop Manager
Libby joined the PA Wilds Center in 2016 and manages the PA Wilds Conservation Shop at Kinzua Bridge State Park, a unique gift shop featuring items that have been designed and hand-crafted from artisans who are members of the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania. Libby has played a critical role in helping the nonprofit develop its first PA Wilds Conservation Shop store into a replicable model that is now expanding across the region. A native of Kane, Libby graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford with a degree in Psychology. She spent 20 years in the Washington D.C. area managing retail stores before moving back to the PA Wilds in 2015.
Brand Partnerships & Licensing Manager
Hannah joined the PA Wilds team in late 2020 to be a liaison between businesses and the PA Wilds brand. Hannah manages the PA Wilds licensing program and helps businesses use the brand on their products, encourages business-to-business relationships, and maintains the PA Wilds brand standards and communication plan. With a bachelor’s in Communication from St. Vincent College, Hannah has worked with private businesses and municipal governments. Both have given Brock a first hand look at the benefits of the PA Wilds as a place-based brand. Connect on LinkedIn
Jason serves as a Community Connector at the PA Wilds Conservation Shop at Kinzua Bridge State Park where he regularly interacts with customers and helps orient them to the attractions of the region.A PA Wilds native, Jason graduating Salutatorian from Smethport Area High School in 2001 and attended Lycoming College in Williamsport. After graduating cum laude with a degree in English/Creative Writing in 2005, Jason worked several years at The Bradford Era newspaper. As a reporter and then News Editor, he learned even more about this PA Wilds area as the paper covered local news in Cameron, Elk, McKean and Potter counties.
Financial Assistant Carol Szymanik has been with the PA Wilds Center since its founding. She assists the EVP of Finance with accounts payable and receivable, invoicing and data entry. Carol works part-time for the Center. For more than 31 years, she and her husband have owned and operated the Susquehannock Lodge on Scenic Route 6 in Potter County in the PA Wilds.
A number of organizational and individual contractors from across the Pennsylvania Wilds provide services to assist our small staff.
Elk County Council on the Arts (ECCOTA)
Wilds Cooperative of PA support
Potter County Education Council (PCEC)
PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards support
Wilds Cooperative of PA social media support
Hello Social Co.
PA Wilds social media support