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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Dawn of a New Career

(Editor’s Note: The following is the latest in a series of feature stories highlighting Ohio State University South Centers Staff members)

Bradford Sherman
CFAES/South Centers

When Dawn Coleman accepted a part-time position with The Ohio State University at her local Extension office in December 2018 – little did she know it would be the first step toward a brand-new career.

“I didn’t accept that position expecting it to eventually lead to other opportunities down the road, but I was hopeful,” Coleman admitted.
Then hope became reality. From a half time Office Assistant to her new role as a Growth Advisor for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Coleman has been on a meteoric rise at OSU over the past two years. 

She began her ascent by being hired as a Program Assistant for the MEP program at South Centers in 2019 and earned a promotion to her current post just 13 months later.
“It is great to know that when you put hard work and dedication into something, that you can be rewarded for it. The Ohio State University definitely promotes professional development and career growth, and I am so thankful to be part of it,” she said.

Dawn and MurphyThe new gig appears to fit her well. In the relatively short time in her new job, she has already secured the largest ever project for MEP at South Centers by assisting Stirling Ultracold with a launch of ultra-low temperature freezers designed to transport doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. She has also brought in several new clients, closed first-time projects with existing contacts, and was appointed to serve on the Ohio MEP Board for its popular internship program.

“Dawn is outstanding,” explained MEP Program Manager Doug Anderson. “She has brought the biggest wins to our program since South Centers has owned the MEP region for Southeastern Ohio. She models a level of excellence that keeps me sharp daily. The Ohio MEP Director, Susan Foltz has even recognized her accomplishments in the last four months - calling her a ‘super star.’”
“I feel like I have found my calling,” Coleman added.

The former fiscal officer for the Village of Coalton certainly knows the value of partnerships, as she worked closely with other state and local entities on a regular basis while in that role. She saw firsthand how partnerships with other entities could help a small business prosper, valuable experience on which she relies regularly for MEP.

“The manufacturing field has always sparked my interest. So, when the opportunity arose to become a part of the MEP team, I thought my experience with Coalton and with state and federal agencies could really help manufacturers in our area.”

While now she is best known by her colleges for helping businesses, those who know her well can tell you that she is as adept at helping people. She can fly your aircraft, rescue you from a burning building, or save you from drowning. She is a pretty handy gal to have around.

Coleman once had her pilot’s license and can still fly a single-engine aircraft to this day. She also has certifications for firefighting and swift water rescue. Though not as exciting, she can also help balance your budget thanks to nine years’ worth of attending the Local Government Conference and training sessions.

If you ever find yourself in the Village of Coalton, be sure to swing by the pollinator park, a project that Coleman spearheaded in partnership with the Soil and Water Conservation District and was awarded with a Cooperator of the Year award in 2017.

Coleman is the mother of three grown children and currently resides in Wellston with her golden doodle, Murphy. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor adventures such as camping and kayaking, and loves to travel and to paint Victorian era-inspired artwork.