Longtime literacy champion retires from Penn State Beaver

Nancy Woods, executive director of the Penn State Beaver Adult Literacy Action (ALA) program and instructor in education since 1984, retired June 29 from the University after 29 years of service to the campus and community.

Woods’ longtime involvement in the community made her a well-known and easily recognizable figure in and around Beaver County. She led the development of the ALA program and was responsible for training hundreds of volunteers who, in turn, taught free classes in literacy, life skills, math, reading, workforce education and English for Speakers of Other Languages to thousands of residents in and around Beaver County. She also oversaw the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program and GED test preparation.

Woods offered numerous outreach services at a variety of Beaver County locations, including the Beaver County Jail, Hopewell Township; CareerLink, Beaver Falls; Center for Hope, Ambridge; Help-a-Person Enterprises, Hopewell Township; Rochester Community Center; and Job Training of Beaver County.

She served on numerous academic and community affairs committees at Beaver campus, including the Penn State Commission for Women, and was the campus faculty ombudsman at different times throughout her career.

Woods has been recognized statewide and nationally for her advocacy efforts on behalf of literacy and education for decades, including recognition from former First Lady Barbara Bush. She was featured, along with students, in a special on literacy hosted by ABC-TV’s Peter Jennings in the 1980s.

In addition, she has served as chair of numerous boards, including the Beaver County Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board, the Beaver County Behavioral Health Services Board and Beaver County Head Start. She has also volunteered with other organizations, including the Beaver County Jail Task Force, the Salvation Army and the NAACP.

Woods is currently president of the Board of Directors for The Center for Hope in Ambridge, which provides hundreds of area residents in need with a food pantry, emergency food services, a clothing bank, educational and job-training programs for adults, and after-school activities for children

She was the 2011 recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, which is known as the “Nobel Prize for volunteerism” and honors individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service.

In 2008, Woods received the Bronze Good Citizenship Medal awarded by the Gen. Anthony Wayne Chapter of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. The award was made in recognition of Woods’ notable services on behalf of American principles through her professional and personal community service.

In addition, she received the 2006 Marie King Parrish Brotherhood/Humanitarian Award presented by the Beaver Valley Service Club in honor of her efforts and programs designed to bring literacy and life skills to the community. The Beaver Valley Service Club carries the motto “Service Above Self” and honors area residents who embody that motto.

For information about the ALA program, contact the ALA offices at 724-773-7810, Monday through Thursday, or visit http://adultliteracy.org. For information about the Center for Hope, visit http://thecenterforhope.com or call 724-251-4899.

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Last Updated July 29, 2013