Centre County is home to many women leaders who go above and beyond to serve their community. During Women’s History Month each year, Centre Foundation honors one woman for her leadership and dedication to local issues with the Mimi Barash Coppersmith Women in Leadership Award. This year, the recipient is Susan Werner, who has been involved with a variety of nonprofits since she moved to State College in 1978.

The Mimi Barash Coppersmith Women in Leadership Fund was created in 2017 by Barbara Palmer to honor her longtime friend, Mimi, when Mimi received Centre Foundation’s Oak Tree Award. The Fund encourages and supports women taking strong leadership roles around community issues. To honor the Fund’s awardee each year, a $2,500 grant is given to a local nonprofit of the award recipient’s choice. This year, Susan selected Discovery Space to receive the grant, which provides engaging experiences with science and technology for the community.

She chose Discovery Space because right now she feels like it has the greatest need and is an organization that provides an important space for children and adults alike. Susan is on the Development and Personnel committees for Discovery Space and appreciates the work they do for the community.

“I became involved with Discovery Space when it was first envisioned and have watched it grow into a wonderful asset for our community. Not only is the Science Center a place for children to enjoy while learning science but the Rivet (the makerspace) also provides a place for older children and adults to explore creative talents,” said Susan.

Susan began giving back through volunteerism with the State College Area School District shortly after she and her husband, David, moved to the area. She served as the president of different parent teacher organizations then was elected to the State College Area School Board. Susan served on the school board for 12 years and held the role of president for 7 of those years.

“After [serving on the school board], I realized that I could get involved in other organizations and help continue to make State College the wonderful place it is,” she said.

Currently, Susan is an active member of many organizations’ boards such as Schlow Centre Region Library, League of Women Voters, Penn State Centre Stage, SPRA Pool, United Way, Hadassah, and the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Committee on Library Development. Additionally, she is on committees for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Congregation Brit Shalom.

Susan is deeply committed to the Centre County community and the organizations with which she is an active participant.

“I get deep satisfaction in helping nonprofits make our community stronger and I am passionate about many of them. [Additionally], I feel very fortunate to have the time, energy, and resources to help lead these organizations,” she said.

Her community pride and dedication to making Centre County a better place is something that is recognized by many of our own community members. They see Susan’s commitment to giving back when working with her at different organizations.

“Sue is an inspiration to everyone around her because she is so dedicated to the goals of Schlow. She demonstrates wisdom in working towards Board of Trustee goals and is a voice of reason when troubling situations arise. Because of her commitment to the library, the entire community benefits,” said Barbara Ziff, a fellow Trustee on Schlow’s Board.

Susan is grateful for the opportunity to raise her children in State College and hopes her work has even a small impact on future generations.

“I am grateful David and I had the opportunity to engage with like-minded people who valued education, a healthy lifestyle, and strong family values. By serving on these boards, I hope that my small impact will benefit future generations to enjoy our wonderful community,” she said.