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Delaware & Lehigh - DLNHC Mourns the Passing of Former Executive Director, Elissa Garofalo 

Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Mourns the Passing of Former Executive Director, Elissa Garofalo 

February 23, 2023

It is with great sadness that Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Inc. announces the passing of its former Executive Director, Elissa Garofalo. Garofalo, who retired in 2021, passed away on February 15, 2023, surrounded by family and close friends. 

Garofalo was a driving force behind connecting 165 miles of the D&L Trail to preserve and celebrate the industrial heritage of eastern Pennsylvania for over two decades at the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (DLNHC). She was a visionary for multiple revitalization programs, an early steering committee member of trail networks in Greater Philadelphia and in the Lehigh Valley, and one of the masterminds behind the nationally recognized “Get Your Tail on the Trail” partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.  

During her nine-year tenure as the organization’s Executive Director, she brought the Mansion House Pedestrian Bridge in Jim Thorpe to fruition, spearheaded the merger between DLNHC and the National Canal Museum, and mentored a team of strong professionals, launching them in their careers throughout the country.  

Elissa Garofalo at her retirement party in 2021, surrounded by loved ones, friends, & DLNHC staff and board.

She was widely regarded as a leading expert on the region’s history and cultural heritage and received numerous awards and honors for her work. Garofalo constantly advocated for historic preservation and trail connections with leaders on the local, regional, state, and federal levels. 

“Elissa was a true champion of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol and every point in between. She was a guiding light and dedicated her life to creating connections, from connecting people to the anthracite history to people and their environment throughout the region and beyond. Elissa’s contributions to the organization, towns along the corridor and region wide will be deeply missed by many,” said Board Chairperson, Andrew Hamilton. “Her tireless efforts to preserve and promote the region’s natural and cultural resources have left a lasting legacy, and we are all grateful for the impact she had on our organization and the wonderful and diverse community of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.”   

“Elissa’s Mile” a section of the D&L Trail between mile markers 105 and106, recognizes her contributions and marks the pedestrian bridge as one of her cherished places along the D&L Trail.  

The board and staff at DLNHC extend their condolences to Elissa’s family during this difficult time. 

The full obituary is available at here.