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12 honored as Hoosier Resilience Heroes for contributing to healthier, more sustainable Indiana

Apr 15, 2024

With Earth Day right around the corner, Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute is recognizing a dozen Indiana residents for their dedication to creating a more sustainable and resilient Hoosier state — one where the economic and environmental benefits of climate-friendly communities are shared by all.

Across Indiana, these Hoosier Resilience Heroes are applying themselves to promising climate and environmental solutions, including regenerative agriculture, clean energy and environmental justice. They are farmers, students, volunteers, nonprofit leaders and local government staff.

“Some of our heroes have been working to educate others and address longstanding environmental challenges for decades; others have taken action more recently,” Environmental Resilience Institute Managing Director Sarah Mincey said. “They are all part of a growing network of Indiana sustainability champions who recognize our inextricable dependence on natural systems and who are rallying communities to make positive change. Thanks to these individuals, more Hoosiers recognize that a resilient future and a thriving environment go hand in hand.”

The 2024 Hoosier Resilience Heroes are:

  • Juan Carlos Arango, co-owner of Sobremesa Farm, whose small-scale permaculture farm has become a model for small-scale producers interested in regenerative agriculture practices.
  • Alex Bazán, sustainability director for South Bend, who is helping the city make significant strides in adopting energy-efficiency practices and solar installations.
  • John Blair, founder of ValleyWatch Inc., who has worked to keep large-scale polluters out of Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois for more than 40 years.
  • Liz Gore, chair of the Martindale Brightwood Community Development Corp.’s Environmental Justice Collaborative, who has devoted decades of her life to addressing industrial pollution and environmental inequities in northwest Indianapolis.
  • Pamela Guerrero, a program and policy analyst with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, who was instrumental in introducing an incentive for local governments to incorporate green infrastructure into wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects.
  • Gwen Halsted, a local facilitator with the Richmond Advocacy Team for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, who draws from her Quaker beliefs to guide her sustainable lifestyle and influence neighbors and elected officials on environmental issues.
  • Lorrie Heber, former director of the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, who has worked to cultivate local food networks, conserve wetlands and promote climate action in her community.
  • Elena Krueper, a senior at Elkhart High School, who is collaborating with local officials on a climate resolution in her hometown and elevating the environmental reporting of Indiana high school journalists.
  • Debbie Palmer, president of Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Fund, who works to preserve Indiana’s second-largest natural lake and its surrounding watershed.
  • Marianne Peters, director of the Marshall County Recycle Depot, who provides timely recycling and household hazardous waste disposal resources to residents of her county.
  • John Smillie, a congressional liaison with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, who advocates for adoption of climate solutions at the local, state and federal levels and donates funds to community nonprofits for solar installations.
  • Billie Warren, founder of Jibek Mbwakawen Inc., who bridges Western science with traditional ecological knowledge to promote Indigenous food sovereignty and plant medicine in the Great Lakes Region.

Media kit: News releases, photos and social media graphics for each 2024 Hoosier Resilience Hero 


Environmental Resilience Institute

Jonathan Hines

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