The 2022 Hoosier Resilience Heroes include professionals, students, and volunteers dedicated to climate policy, renewable energy, sustainable business practices, and more. Read about the heroes and their contributions to Indiana communities and the state.
2022 Hoosier Resilience Heroes
VP of Sustainability, Inovateus Solar
SOUTH BEND—An advocate for sustainability, conservation, and renewable energy, Tyler Kanczuzewski leads public outreach and education efforts as the VP of sustainability for Inovateus Solar, a South Bend-based solar company with projects in 23 states. Through speaking and writing, Kanczuzewski promotes sustainable best practices, such as pollinator-friendly solar installations and zero-waste construction, to industry stakeholders in Indiana and elsewhere. Tyler also serves as sustainability manager for Logistick, Inc., a South Bend-based shipping and freight securement company. His passion for sustainability extends into his lifestyle choices—Kanczuzewski practices minimalism and lives in an energy-efficient tiny house, spending as much time as he can outdoors. He serves as a board member, advisory member, ambassador, and volunteer for numerous organizations dedicated to the environment or sustainability, including International Society of Sustainability Professionals, Friends of St. Joseph County Parks Foundation, PVpallet, The Bakery Group, Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Mamoni 100, Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.
Executive Director, Hoosier Environmental Council
INDIANAPOLIS—For over 14 years, Jesse Kharbanda has led the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC), Indiana’s largest environmental policy organization, with a focus on deepening HEC’s emphasis on climate solutions and environmental justice. In collaboration with HEC staff and allies, Kharbanda has marshaled citizens and community leaders behind rooftop solar, energy efficiency, mass transit, pollinator-friendly solar farms, smart land use, sustainable agriculture, and wetlands protection. Kharbanda has personally advocated for such solutions through years of testimony at the Statehouse, countless conversations with elected officials and reporters, and many public talks across the state. Motivated by a big tent vision, he has regularly engaged faith communities, green-minded businesses, public health professionals, students, and conservative leaders along with his engagement of progressives. Kharbanda plans on stepping away from HEC this year to focus on writing books that connect people to the beauty and plight of animals, which continue to suffer harm from human behavior in the form of mass extinction, factory farming, and a worsening climate.
Stephanie Goodrid Lawson
Executive Director, McKinney Family Foundation
INDIANAPOLIS—As the liaison between one of Indiana's most important environmental funders and the most ambitious environmental and climate nonprofits in the state, Stephanie Goodrid Lawson is working to accelerate the state’s transition to a healthier and more sustainable economy. Lawson, a member of ERI’s Indiana advisory board, brings together technical and policy experts, policymakers, and advocates around the state to develop long-term initiatives that address climate change and empower Hoosiers to become part of the climate solution. Examples of her efforts include supporting the Earth Charter Thriving Schools Challenge, the Indiana Sustainability and Resilience Conference, and the McKinney Climate Fellows. To help grantees maximize the impact of philanthropic support, Lawson draws on her expertise as a nonprofit administrator and fundraiser and connects partners who share similar interests and goals. Through her volunteer roles with the Environmental Grantmakers Alliance she collaborates with funders to bring more environmental funding to the state.
Senior, West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School
WEST LAFAYETTE—Through speaking, organizing, and activism, Katharine Schertz is rallying her hometown and youth across the state to push for climate solutions that will help ensure a thriving Hoosier state for future generations. In 2020, Schertz helped found Confront the Climate Crisis (CTCC), a climate action organization led by Indiana youth. As the organization’s internal relations director, Schertz leads goal-setting, plans events, and coordinates activities between CTCC’s 150 members. In 2021, she was part of a CTCC group that met with legislators in Indiana and Washington DC to discuss climate legislation. Schertz also contributed to a resolution and bill presented to state lawmakers in 2022 that called for Indiana to acknowledge the threat of climate change and establish a task force to address it. In past years, Schertz participated in West Lafayette Climate Strike, which planned multiple local climate strikes and worked with city officials to pass a climate resolution in 2019.
Senior, University High School
CARMEL—As a senior editor of her high school newspaper, the U Post, and the student director of the Youth Environmental Press Team, Allie Skalnik writes and shares stories about climate change and its significance to Indiana’s youth. As part of these efforts, she has penned multiple articles for the Indiana Environmental Reporter focusing on young Hoosiers who are raising the alarm about climate change. Beyond journalism, Skalnik is the communications director of Confront the Climate Crisis, an Indiana youth-led climate action organization. The group worked with state legislators to craft two pieces of climate legislation for the 2022 Session of the Indiana General Assembly. Though the bills did not receive a hearing, Skalnik helped ensure the organizations’ ideas were heard outside the Indiana Statehouse. Alongside her climate work, Skalnik is active in local environmental and gardening clubs. She participates in her school's FIRST Robotics team, string orchestra, and student government.
Director, Lafayette Renew
LAFAYETTE—For more than 20 years, Brad Talley has served as the forward-thinking director of Lafayette Renew, establishing a vision beyond treating stormwater and wastewater that prioritizes the economic and environmental health of the community. Under Talley’s leadership, Lafayette Renew has implemented urban green infrastructure projects to mitigate flooding and divert pollutants away from the Wabash River. Projects, such as the Durkees Run Stormwater Park, include educational aspects utilized by classrooms and the public, and feature the importance of stormwater management through rain gardens, permeable pavers, pressure walls, and flood-stage plazas. For another recent project, Talley’s division incorporated a ground-mounted solar field downtown with capacity to power a nearby wastewater lift station. Innovative practices have led to a combine sewer overflow storage tank and urban stormwater pumping station that incorporate community park spaces. Talley and his staff partner on numerous events with organizations focused on protecting the Wabash River and environmental wellness of the community.
Co-state coordinator, Citizens' Climate Lobby
BLOOMINGTON—A gifted and compassionate communicator, Marcia Veldman founded the South Central Indiana chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), the state’s first CCL chapter, in 2013 to engage Indiana voters and elected leaders on effective climate legislation. Since then, 11 more chapters have formed throughout the state, and Veldman now serves as the organization’s state co-coordinator, working closely with CCL’s national leadership team to develop the agenda for Indiana, manage statewide initiatives, and support chapter leaders and CCL liaisons to Indiana’s Congressional representatives. In her various CCL roles, Veldman has shown a knack for connecting with Hoosier residents, business leaders, and elected officials about the need for action on climate change and effective policy options, such as a carbon fee and dividend. Beyond CCL, Veldman has been active in organizations such as the Green Sanctuary Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, Green Drinks Bloomington, and the City of Bloomington’s Community Farmers’ Market, bringing people together to support renewable energy, sustainability, and local food.
Founder, Faith Farms
GARY—To help reimagine and revitalize a blighted neighborhood in his community, Rev. Curtis A. Whittaker, Sr. started a garden in 2013 with the support of Progressive Community Church, where he serves as senior pastor. With the help of volunteers, the USDA-certified farm now produces around 15,000 pounds of food each year, providing organic vegetables to a food-insecure community. Whittaker founded Faith Farms & Orchard in 2013 with three raised beds. Since then, it has expanded to include more raised beds, chickens, ducks, goats, a fruit orchard, four hoop houses, and five beehives. A percentage of the farm’s output is given away and the rest is sold through a CSA and the local farmers’ market. To help advance his vision for the farm, Whittaker has partnered with faculty and students at IU campuses. One of those collaborations resulted in the farm obtaining a mobile farm stand to deliver produce to residents who face challenges accessing healthy food.
Board Chair, Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light
INDIANAPOLIS—A retired agricultural engineer, Ray Wilson has dedicated the past decade to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency in faith communities across Indiana. As the board chair of Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light (H-IPL), he leads workshops to help congregations practice creation care, improve the energy efficiency of church buildings, and maximize the benefits of renewable energy. Wilson developed H-IPL’s Thriving Faith Communities Initiative to encourage Indiana congregations to reduce their energy consumption by 25 percent over three years. He spearheaded the efforts of his own congregation, Unitarian Universalist of Indianapolis, to reduce its energy usage more than 50 percent and make substantial progress toward achieving net-zero energy consumption. Wilson is also an active volunteer with Solar United Neighbors, Solarize Indiana, and the Sierra Club.