Woodloch Resort Announces Partnership with Moka Origins Coffee

As the New Year commences, two businesses in the Poconos are poised for exciting new beginnings. Woodloch, an award-winning, three property resort, and Moka Origins, an ethically-sourced coffee and chocolate company, are proud to announce the start of a partnership aimed at enriching the experience for resort guests while honoring Moka’s motto, “made locally, support globally.” This collaboration represents a shared commitment to offering guests unparalleled quality, sustainability, and community support.

Nestled in the Pocono Mountains, Woodloch has been a cornerstone of family-friendly getaways for decades, renowned for its exceptional hospitality and endless activities. Woodloch is the largest employer in Pennsylvania’s Pike and Wayne counties and generates the most tourism dollars in the Northern Pocono Mountains area. The Poconos resort employs over 1,200 staff members and welcomes nearly 100,000 visitors per year. Moka Origins, known for its artisanal approach to coffee production, places emphasis on direct trade relationships with farmers, sustainable farming practices, and social responsibility. Woodloch will feature Moka Origins across its various dining and retail outlets. Guests can now indulge in the finest handcrafted coffee and chocolate while supporting a shared vision of social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

This ethos aligns particularly well with the philosophy at Woodloch’s destination spa resort, The Lodge at Woodloch. The property features a working organic farm where the focus is on giving back to the environment before benefiting from it, in turn creating healthy soil and healthy plants and, consequently, healthy people. The Poconos spa looks forward to presenting Moka products through immersive guest experiences, such as chocolate tastings intertwined with storytelling about how Moka Origins began.

In 2015, Moka Farms was founded in Cameroon, West Africa to help generate employment through sustainable farming and the creation of a Farmers’ Training Center. By 2017, Moka’s co-founder, Jeff Abella, started buying cacao and coffee directly from farmers around the world and began a chocolate and coffee company in Honesdale, PA, just 20 minutes from Woodloch. The company’s mission is to use chocolate and coffee as a vehicle for social change by ethically sourcing coffee and cacao, offering training programs on their Cameroon farm, and planting a tree for every product sold. To date, over 517,000 trees have been planted, more than 276,000 pounds of beans have been sold, and 2,600 workshops on sustainable agriculture have been provided to farmers.

“We are thrilled to partner with Moka Origins,” said Brad Kiesendahl, CEO of Woodloch Resort. “Their dedication to sustainability, waste reduction, and environmental consciousness aligns seamlessly with our values here at Woodloch. We are committed to enhancing the guest experience by offering the finest quality coffee and chocolate while supporting a company with such a strong mission.”

Moka Origins CEO, Jeff Abella, expressed equal enthusiasm, stating, “Partnering with Woodloch is a fantastic opportunity for us to expand our commitment to sustainability and community impact. We admire Woodloch’s dedication to creating an exceptional guest experience and look forward to providing their guests with our products while contributing to meaningful initiatives together.”

Marion Munley Honored With the 2023 “Mel Award”

Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys announced that truck accident lawyer Marion Munley was awarded the 2023 “Mel Award” by the Melvin M. Belli Society.

The Mel Award, named after famed litigator Melvin M. Belli, is given to an attorney “who made a significant contribution to the practice of trial law in America.” The Melvin M. Belli Society is an international group of trial lawyers dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Belli legal legacy of
promoting courtroom excellence. Marion is the past president of the Society.

Widely recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s most prominent and widely respected truck accident lawyers, Marion is Triple Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in Civil Trial, Civil Practice, and Truck Law. Marion has earned an AV-Preeminent designation from Martindale-
Hubbell, the industry’s highest ethical and client satisfaction rating.

A leader in the legal community, Marion is an active member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and currently serves as its Treasurer. Marion was the first woman to become Chair of the AAJ Trucking Litigation Group in 2018 and is a past chair of the AAJ Women Trial Lawyers Caucus.

Marion is the second woman in Pennsylvania to become Board Certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Among her other professional affiliations are the American Board of Trial Advocates, the International Society of Barristers, and the Summit Council, an
exclusive group of today’s top civil justice attorneys committed to the highest levels of trial advocacy, to obtaining justice for individuals and families who have been hurt by corporate wrongdoing, and to the protection of the civil justice system.

During her career, Marion has received some of the highest honors a lawyer can receive. Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2012, Marion has been named the 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She has also been recognized as Best Lawyers® 2022 and 2024 “Lawyer of the Year” for Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs in Northeastern Pennsylvania and 2021 “Lawyer of the Year” for Personal Injury-Plaintiffs for the Allentown metro area. Marion has also been selected to the list of Pennsylvania Super Lawyers for the last 18 years and was recently named to the 2023 “Top 10” Pennsylvania Super Lawyers List. A graduate of Temple University School of Law (J.D., 1986), Marion received her undergraduate degree from Scranton University in 1983.

Wayne Bank’s Vincent O’Bell Re-Appointed to Health and Welfare Authority

Wayne Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer, Vincent O’Bell, was recently reappointed to Chairman of the Scranton and Lackawanna Health and Welfare Authority.

Mr. O’Bell has over 45 years in the financial industry.  Mr. O’Bell also serves as a member of the investment and finance committee for the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a member of the finance counsel of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and a Board Member, Treasurer, and Paul Harris Fellow for the Rotary Club of Scranton.

Mr. Donnelly stated, “Vinny is an integral part of our leadership team.  His guidance, expertise, and commitment to our business customers and our employees are a big part of our success.  We are proud to celebrate Vinny’s re-appointment as Chairman of Scranton and Lackawanna County’s Health and Welfare Authority.  Vinny cares deeply about our communities, and I am confident the people of Lackawanna County will continue to benefit from him leading the Scranton and Lackawanna Health and Welfare Authority.”

The Greater Scranton YMCA Receives Grant from PPL Foundation

The Greater Scranton YMCA is pleased to announce it has received a $2,500 Energizing Education grant from the PPL Foundation. These funds will support the Summer Scholars Program, a six-week academic and enrichment program designed for elementary students who are struggling with reading. The goal of the program is to prevent summer learning loss through a combination of literacy instruction, enrichment activities aligned to literacy instruction and positive youth development opportunities.

Without access to educational activities during the summer, children who are already behind in reading are at risk of falling further behind their peers. For children who need additional help with their reading skills, the Greater Scranton YMCA is proud to offer the Summer Scholars Program for children entering first, second and third grades at the Mid Valley and Dunmore School Districts. The Summer Scholars Program supports cognitive, physical and social-emotional growth while focusing on helping children improve their literacy schools. Breakfast and snack are provided and the program is offered at no cost.

“The Greater Scranton YMCA is so grateful to the PPL Foundation for their generous grant award,” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “Providing all children with access to educational opportunities over the summer months is crucial to continued academic success. Our Summer Scholars Program targets young students who are struggling with reading, providing them with the tools and resources needed for success at the start of their next school year.”

For more information about the Summer Scholars Program, contact Helen Cruser at hcruser@gsymca.org.

Marywood University President Announces Retirement

Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D.,the 12th President of Marywood University, has announced to the Board of Trustees her decision to retire from her role, effective June 30, 2024. 

Sister Mary was elected President of Marywood University by the University Board of Trustees in April 2016 and began her presidential tenure on July 1, 2016. Throughout her eight-year tenure, the University endowment has nearly doubled and maintained a fiscally responsible status, even during universally challenging financial times in higher education and while the industry as a whole has faced a national downturn in enrollments. 

To further strengthen Marywood’s future, Sister Mary is presently guiding the University’s $30 million comprehensive campaign, which is set to conclude upon her retirement. The campaign is designed to fund new construction and academic spaces on campus, to provide scholarships for students, and to enhance the student experience. The state-of-the-art Pascucci Family Health Sciences Pavilion, an addition to the O’Neill Healthy Families Center, which will house all students who study the Health Sciences, will be dedicated in May 2024. 

Since 2016, several signature programs have enjoyed expansion, including the Physician Assistant and Architecture programs, and several innovative programs in Respiratory Therapy, Construction Management, and Biotechnology were launched. Last spring, the Living City Lab at Marywood University was established and dedicated to the memory of Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist from Scranton; this entity is housed in the Insalaco Center for Studio Arts. Sister Mary also launched the Center for Law, Justice, & Policy, as a precursor to the engagement of students in programs that will lead to legal-related professions. Additionally, the University established the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, out of which grew the Center for Truth and Racial Healing.

Sister Mary’s belief that universities exist to serve the communities that surround them was realized, in part, with the purchase of Marywood Heights, the former Holy Family Skilled Nursing Facility, which is home to nearly 90 residents. Marywood Heights is the first UBRC (University Based Retirement Community) in Northeast Pennsylvania. In addition, the NativityMiguel School of Scranton was relocated to Marywood University in 2019 and is now a permanent addition to campus. 

Sister Mary has represented Marywood to the broader higher education community through service on boards and by her presence in the public arena, including a six-year term on the Board of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, during which time she assumed the role of Chair for one year. She was an appointee of Governor Tom Wolf to the PA Humanities as a Director for six years and also assumed the role of Chair for some of her tenure there. In 2019, Sister Mary was asked to deliver the Commencement Address at the Catholic University of East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya. She currently serves as one of ten members on the Governor’s task force for Higher Education in the Commonwealth of PA and has chaired several Middle States site visits during her years as Marywood’s President.

Sister Mary’s leadership has led to global accomplishments, such as online graduate Business programs to students from the Tsingsua Holdings Zijing Education Group in Beijing, China, and from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Support, Alexandria, Egypt. The Office of Global Education also was established during her presidency. Through this office, dozens of students from South Korea spend one semester at Marywood and do practical nursing training in local hospitals and clinics. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic arose, Sister Mary guided Marywood through unprecedented, uncertain times, successfully navigating challenges and positioning Marywood to thrive in the aftermath of a global pandemic. The University was able to pivot quickly to sustain its mission and to assist the community to curb the spread of the virus and minimize the pandemic’s consequences. Additionally, she brought national retail partnerships to campus, including Starbucks, the Gear Shop, the Apple Store, and the Amazon Store, to provide an enhanced campus culture to students.

“On behalf of the Trustees, I wish to acknowledge our admiration for Sister Mary, her collaborative leadership, and her bold vision for Marywood,” stated Board President, Lisa Lori, Esq. “Sister Mary has been an inspiration to us all. Throughout the years, and long before her tenure as President, Sister Mary promoted the mission and core values of our University. She has kept them ever before our students, staff, faculty, and administration as the collective light that guides all we do.”

The Board of Trustees will launch a national search for Sister Mary’s successor. The Board of Trustees has hired a search firm/consultant and will be forming a search committee, which will include members of various stakeholder groups. The position is expected to be posted in early January 2024, with a plan to announce finalists for the position in March and a President-Elect by early April 2024.