Director of the Collaboratory
Director of the Collaboratorydhercyk@messiah.edu 717.796.1800 ext. 6810
Darren joined the Collaboratory in 2020. A native of Upstate New York, Darren’s career has spanned manufacturing, global development and missions, and higher education. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and an M.A. in Christian Ministry and Global Studies from Liberty University. Darren also completed a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) with his research focused on experiential learning to prepare students and the church for global engagement.
Darren and his family served in 10 countries over an 18-year period. Darren’s overseas career started in China as an engineer privatizing a former state-run manufacturing facility. Following this, Darren worked in global development and missions in Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Sudan, East Timor, Haiti, and Liberia. The work in these counties spanned from responding to emergencies like earthquakes and Ebola, to development programs in agriculture, education, water and sanitation, microfinance, livelihoods, shelter, food security, and global health to advocacy programs in justice and peace. Through all these experiences, Darren partnered with the local church. Before coming to Messiah University, Darren leveraged his overseas experiences as an adjunct professor at Liberty University teaching courses in cross-cultural communication and engagement and global development.
In his free time, Darren enjoys long walks and attending sporting events. Darren and his wife Lori have five children and two grandchildren.
Engineering Projects Manager of the Collaboratory
Engineering Projects Manager of the Collaboratorydplante@messiah.edu 717.796.1800 ext. 3004
Dereck Plante joined the Collaboratory as Engineering Projects Manager in 2016. A Massachusetts native, he has lived in the Worcester, Cape Cod, and Boston areas. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Eastern Nazarene College and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He also holds a certificate in Biblical Studies from University of the Nations. His career has been divided between industry, academia, and missions work. After first having spent a month working with abandoned children in Romania as a college student, his worldview was changed forever. Post-graduation, he returned to Romania with his wife, Lea, to serve with Veritas Romania in both a technical role and in direct support to abandoned and disabled children in the Transylvania region. More recently, Dereck, Lea, and their two children have studied and served with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Hawai’i and Cambodia.
Program Manager of the Collaboratory
Program Manager of the Collaboratorylzimmerman@messiah.edu 717.796.1800 ext 7226
Lori has worked at Messiah since 2007 and moved into the Collaboratory Program Manager role in 2017 just two days after graduating with her B.S. in Business Administration from Messiah College. She earned her MBA from Messiah University in 2020. Her previous position in the School of Science, Engineering and Health as support staff gave her the opportunity to become familiar with the good work of the Collaboratory. Before joining the Messiah community, Lori and her husband Tim, along with their two children, lived in Honduras and worked for Brethren in Christ World Missions for over five years. In Honduras, they developed and managed a short-term mission internship program. Before living in Central America, Lori worked at Messiah Village as Communications Coordinator, and served in short-term missions in various locations over the years. In her Collaboratory position, she is pleased to serve closely with faculty, students, partners and volunteers in the good work of the Collaboratory.
Student Director of the Collaboratory
Student Director of the Collaboratorycollaboratory@messiah.edu
Mikayla is a Senior Civil Engineering Major from Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. She grew up tubing in the Breeches and walking around campus and she feels blessed to be able to continue those traditions while away at college. She has always been passionate about using her talents to serve others. She loves the Collaboratory and the organization’s unique combination of service, learning, and leadership. Outside the Collaboratory, Mikayla enjoys connecting with other groups on campus by playing her violin in the Messiah University Symphony Orchestra, playing for campus chapels, participating in SWE and ASCE, and volunteering at Messiah Lifeways. Within the Collaboratory, Mikayla has been a part of the Panama Bridge Team since the Fall of 2018. She has been able to develop her engineering and leadership skills through her work on this team. Collab events like Fellowship Brunches, Discipleship Community have allowed Mikayla to connect with other students within the organization and are two of the many enjoyable aspects of the Collaboratory for her. She hopes that through her service and work in the Collaboratory, she will help others and herself truly connect service with learning. As Student Director, she hopes to promote the core Collaboratory theme of “Changing the World, Changing Us.” By seeking to improve conditions across the world through engineering and other projects, students find themselves changed for the better as well.
Assistant Student Director of the Collaboratory
Assistant Student Director of the Collaboratorycollabad@messiah.edu 717.796.1800 ex. 7226
Katie is a junior mechanical engineering major. As a military kid, she grew up across the United States with her parents and younger sister. Just a few of the places she has lived are Virginia, Washington, Hawai’i, and Messiah’s very own Pennsylvania. She has served for two years on the Sustainable Mobility team, working on motorized wheelchairs for those living with disabilities in Fada and Mahadaga in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Just this past January, she was blessed to travel with the team to Benin to meet and work with their partners, which gave her a new excitement for the Collaboratory’s kingdom work around the world. Eager to serve wherever she is able, Katie hopes to continue to connect engineering and education to faith and service as she engages in the Collaboratory.
Student Program Manager of the Collaboratory
Student Program Manager of the CollaboratoryCollabadvancement@messiah.edu
Matt is a junior finance major here at Messiah University. He got involved with the Collaboratory his freshman year through what was formerly the Economic Empowerment team. His work with that team specialized in finding sustainable economic solutions for low-income communities, and dramatically helped shape and change his overall worldview. Matt firmly believes in the mission and vision of the Collaboratory, as he knows the value and impact of the work being done. He aims to apply the lessons and principles he's come to know and understand in his life beyond college, both personally and in his professional career. Matt looks forward to working together with those who partner with the Collaboratory as they help further the impact of the organization.