John Turack

Extension Assistant, Community & Economic Development


    Community and Economic Development
    Community and Landowner Opportunities and Challenges of Unconventional Shale Development
    Community and Citizen Engagement
    Strategic Visioning
    Meeting Facilitation
    Land Use Planning/Decision-Making
    Community/Commercial District Revitalization
    Local Governance Issues, Specifically Intergovernmental and Inter-Community Collaboration
    Non-Profit Formation, Function, and Management







    • Westmoreland County

    About Me

    John  is a Community and Economic Development Assistant based in Westmoreland County with Penn State Extension (  He also serves as the Executive Director for the Smart Growth Partnership, a partner program of Penn State Extension (


     John is a native of Westmoreland County, and previous to working for Extension, served as a Township Supervisor in Washington Township, Westmoreland County; as the Main Street Program Manager for a non-profit revitalization organization in Blairsville, Indiana County; and earlier in his career as a private-sector retail manager. 

    John has a BA in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, numerous local government-related certifications, and has completed graduate-level classes with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Department of Geography and Regional Planning.

    John’s focus as an educator is in providing technical assistance to municipalities, community leaders, and non-profit organizations in the areas of community and citizen engagement, community visioning, and both strategic and municipal comprehensive planning.  He serves on Extension’s statewide educational program teams delivering educational programming related to Economic and Community Development (

    John also has served as a board member for the Allegheny County-based Local Government Academy (LGA) (, as a board member for the Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth (WEDIG), as a board member for the Westmoreland Historical Society, and as an Associate Director for the Westmoreland Conservation District (

    John lives on a small family farm in Washington Township.  He and his siblings are the third generation of his family on this land, and he enjoys stewardship of its fields, woods, and of the 200+ year-old homestead stone foundation remnants still to be found there.

    To learn more about John, his work, and his interests, you may wish to read some of the monthly blogs that he writes for Penn State Extension's ECD News.  John is a frequent contributor --



    - University of Pittsburgh, B.A. English Writing - Graduate-level classes with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Department of Geography and Regional Planning - Multiple certifications, including Pennsylvania Downtown Center Certified Main Street Man