Penny Whitman to Join Cooperative Extension as New Community and Economic Development Field Specialist for Sullivan County

Penny Whitman

Penny Whitman will join the Sullivan County staff as a Community and Economic Development Field Specialist starting in September. Whitman will focus her efforts on regional economic development, downtown development, business retention and expansion, and growing the recreational economy.

“I can’t wait to settle in and begin working with Sullivan County leadership, community members and Extension coworkers throughout New Hampshire,” said Whitman. “It is a unique opportunity to make real change and impact peoples’ lives on the ground.”

Whitman recently returned stateside after having served abroad as a sustainable tourism development specialist with Peace Corps Response in the Republic of Palau, a small island developing state in Micronesia. In Palau, she led a participatory engagement process with the national and state governments and communities to develop tourism policy and community-based tourism enterprises. Working closely with representatives of government, Chamber of Commerce directors, business owners, NGO representatives and educators, Whitman helped to form a collaborative that responded to the island nation’s community, environmental and economic challenges. Out of this work grew the Palau Responsible Tourism Policy Framework, which was recently endorsed by the president of Palau and is now being adopted.

Prior to serving in Peace Corp Response, Whitman spent over a decade working in the tourism industry as editor in chief of a travel trade association publication. In fact, she has traveled and worked in over 30 countries. However, she noted that, “I returned to the U.S. wanting to contribute to the economic and community development needs in my own country. My work in Sullivan County will draw on my tourism/economic development knowledge, stakeholder engagement skills and project management experience.”

Whitman holds an undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s degree in tourism administration with a specialization in sustainable destination management from The George Washington University School of Business.

“We are excited to have Penny join our team,” said Charlie French, Program Leader for Community and Economic Development.

Community and Economic Development Specialist Molly Donovan noted, “Community and business leaders in Sullivan County are chomping at the bit to get things moving with economic development, so Penny’s arrival at the onset of efforts to organize the region around economic opportunities is very timely.”

Please take a moment to welcome her to Cooperative Extension when she begins on September 11.