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avatar for Cathi Gerhard

Cathi Gerhard

Penn State University
Adjunct Professor of English
New Kensington
Currently, I am a part-time adjunct professor of English at Penn State University and Westmoreland County Community College. Using a combination of classroom and online strategies, I teach freshman composition, advanced composition, and technical writing — all with an emphasis on transmitting information via a variety of media. As a professional journalist, a keystone of my own career over the past 25 years has been context … finding and communicating connections between researched material and the “real world” so its practical applications were both clear and engaging to my readers and students.

A 1987 graduate of Derry Area High School, I earned my bachelor's and master's degrees at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in journalism and English literature (with a media studies concentration), and worked as a Communications Director in corporate and nonprofit public relations and advertising for 10 years in both Pennsylvania and North Carolina before launching my own independent local magazine, the Laurel Mountain Post (www.LaurelMountainPost.com), in 2004.

During its eleven-year tenure, I developed this community publication into an original, cultural brand throughout the region by working exclusively with local, amateur writers (ages 18-80) who had varied skill sets and educational backgrounds, but were experienced in an array of technical fields with unique stories to tell. As editor, each issue was built upon an emergent curriculum as the writers cultivated their voices and honed their composition skills with me. Using evolving media technologies as well as one-to-one and group workshops, my columnists and contributors assembled an impressive portfolio of scholarly, journalistic and creative work through the Laurel Mountain Post . . . named the “Voice of Pennsylvania” by the BBC News in October 2006 and the “Official Magazine of the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Community Chamber of Commerce” in 2014 (www.gllv.org). Personally, this was a journey not just in publishing and entrepreneurship, but in education, creativity, and the building of partnerships — a success that came from the enthusiasm and ownership of an idea with the flexibility to adapt to outcomes, both anticipated and unexpected, generated by the marketplace as well as the community.

In addition to my current college writing positions and professional magazine experience, I have been I have been a regular marketing and communication seminar instructor for the United Methodist Church as, as well as a journalism guest lecturer at Seton Hill University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Since late 2009, I have also created a series of short, educational presentations on written and visual communication (branding, social media, marketing ROI, and writing) for local chapters of BNI (Business Networking International), area chambers of commerce, and other small business groups. Most recently, I have worked as a creative consultant for the GLLV Chamber of Commerce to develop and maintain multi-channel marketing and social media campaigns for both the organization and its membership businesses within a wide range of budgets.

Communication is a fundamental skill for every discipline — especially in our digital age. Writing across the curriculum is now a crucial foundation for the successful exchange of ideas across multiple platforms. My current professional projects include incorporating digital media in the classroom as well as developing seminars on the practical applications of storyboarding for effective communication in STEM categories as well as the arts & humanities.