New Leadership for Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, Career Services

September 12, 2023

This fall, the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement and the career services arm of the Center for Career and Academic Planning are under new leadership.

Wanda Cooper and Heather DiFino

Dr. Wanda Cooper began her role as director of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at the end of the spring semester, while Heather DiFino joined Fisher as the director of career education at Fisher this fall.

Cooper has more than 25 years of experience and an extensive background in non-profit leadership and organizational change. In addition to her role at Fisher, Cooper is the owner of Cooper ProductionZ LLC, a consulting company dedicated to assisting organizations with executive coaching, strategic planning, employee wellness and retention, and framing organizational stories of impact to enhance funding opportunities.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in community and human services from SUNY Empire State College. She earned a graduate certificate in learning design and technology and a doctorate in organizational change and leadership from the University of Southern California. Her research is based on the factors and impact of workplace burnout. She is currently conducting research on the differences and complexities that may exist for women of color who are experiencing burnout.

She has earned several community and academic awards and has served on numerous boards and community committees. She is also a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

DiFino brings more than 12 years of higher education experience at both private and public institutions to the role. DiFino has experience working across multiple areas supporting student success in higher education including career education and curriculum building, advising and retention, first and second year programs, residential life, and health and counseling.

She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and music history and literature from SUNY Geneseo and her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Syracuse University. She recently completed the NACE Coaching Certificate Program and Mental Health First Aid training.

DiFino’s knowledge of best practices has allowed her to foster collaborations between academics and student affairs to create a holistic approach to helping students design their career journey. She has presented at national and local conferences on career development topics and has served as a consultant for other institutions on implementing programs including a professional dress clothing closet, peer mentor programs, and team development training for faculty and staff. In addition, she built a Second Year Experience Program that incorporated career preparation, advisement, and mental health elements. DiFino also has experience collaborating with faculty and staff on career curriculum and has served as an adjunct instructor.