Sustainability Fellows

Sustainability Fellows

Each year the Center chooses up tp 5 fellows who work with the faculty and staff on a variety of sustainability projects and initiatives.  Sustainability Fellows include professionals and practitioners involved in sustainability work as well as faculty members from other institutions. The Sustainabilty Fellows Program is made possible through generous support of an anonymous local donor.  Each fellow will receive a modest stipend in support of their work.

2014-2015 Fellows

Read the 2014-2015 press release HERE

Boniface Njuguna is Founder and Executive Director of the Green Youth Foundation.  He received his MBA from Indiana University South Bend.  Through his foundation, Njuguna helps youngsters from Michiana assemble kits that include a solar lamp and cell phone charging kits that are then sent to his home country of Kenya.  There, Kenyan youngsters put the kits together bringing light and the ability to charge cell phones to their villages that are not connected to the grid.

John Kennedy

John Kennedy is Principal of South Bend New Tech High School.  He received his MA in Secondary Education from the University of Albuquerque.  New Tech High School is a magnet program that uses project based learning to help students develop skills to effectively communicate, collaborate, think critically and utilize technology to solve complex problems.  Their goal is to graduate students who are well prepared to go on to college or enter the workforce immediately.  John will be working with his faculty to incorporate sustainability and innovation into the existing New Tech curriculum.

Vince Gresham

Vince Gresham is Director of Environmental Studies at South Bend Greene Intermediate Center.  He received his BA from Purdue in Wildlife Management.  One of Greene Intermediate’s goals is to incorporate environmental studies across the curriculum.  Through his fellowship Vince will continue to work on Greene’s environmental curriculum by developing additional courses in Wildlife Science, Agriculture and Gardening, and Environmental Issues, Careers and Capstone Projects.

2013-2014 Fellows

Read the 2013-2014 press release HERE

Jon Helmuth

Jon Helmuth is President of Genesis Products, an Elkhart based company that supplies wood products for the RV industry.  Jon is also the head of the Sustainability Coalition, a group of regional industry leaders committed to sustainable business principles.  Jon will work on establishing a pilot site for the Genesis Project in South Bend.  The Genesis Project takes vacant and brownfield lots and plants them with hybrid poplar trees that can produce sought-after wood for the RV industry while at the same time providing soil remediation and sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Kelly Hofferth

Kelly Hofferth will continue as a fellow for a second year.  She will work as the Center’s liaison with Energizing Indiana to recruit households and businesses to sign up for free professional energy audits.   Households that sign up for an audit receive 9 free compact fluorescent light bulbs and four low flow faucet aerators and shower heads.  For each audit successfully completed, the Center receives a $25 donation from Energizing Indiana.

Sara Lowe

Sara Lowe is founder of Michiana Yardeners, a virtual gardening club on Facebook whose participants grow fruit and vegetables in the city in their own front and back “yardens.”  Members share advice, seeds and plantings, and pictures of their creations.  During her fellowship, Sara will work to increase the number of yardeners in Michiana, and organize a yardener’s cooking contest for next summer.

Jan Pilarski

Jan Pilarski (on left) is co-founder of Green Bridge Growers, an urban social entrepreneurial venture that grows greens and fish aquaponically to produce revenue and create jobs for highly-capable young adults on the autism spectrum in Northern Indiana.  As part of her fellowship she will work with the DoubleTree Hotel and the South Bend Century Center to turn the skywalk connecting the two into a “garden in the sky” to grow fresh organic herbs for local restaurants.

2012-2013 Fellows

Read the 2012-2013 Fellows Press Release HERE


Willow Wetherall
Willow will be producing an event called Ignite Michiana to be held in March 28, 2013 in downtown South Bend. Ignite is a global event, where participants are given five minutes to speak about their ideas and personal or professional passions, accompanied by 20 slides.  The presentations are meant to "ignite" the audience on a subject, i.e. to generate awareness and to stimulate thought and action on the subjects presented. Ignite events serve as an information exchange for fostering and inspiring an area's creative community.  Speakers from the creative, technical and business communities present their current projects or favorite ideas.  Ignite events highlight innovation in the business and non-profit sectors and provide opportunities for networking and the advancement of new ideas and economic development. Ignite Michiana would help showcase sustainability and innovation in our region and inspire continued economic revitalization and creative-problem solving.
Connect with Ignite Michiana's website and Facebook page to keep up to date.

Myles Robertson

Myles Robertson
Myles has been the "star" of our educational YouTube series, “What’s Up Myles?”  The series follows the adventures of IU South Bend student Myles Robertson as he goes in search of sustainability. It consists of a series of short videos (taken with our flash cam or an iPhone) in which Myles interviews various sustainability professionals or prominent political officials or business persons in our area, as well as visiting lecturers from across the country. Now that Myles has graduated and moved on to Notre Dame, he will continue the series for at least another year.  He will be producing episodes of his series and post them on our YouTube Channel


Kathleen Petitjean
This is Kathleen’s third year as a Sustainability Fellow.  During the last two years her project was to organize our annual Rain Barrel Art Auction.  This has been a very successful event, particularly in its educational capacity.  Kathleen will be taking her last six years of experience helping to envision and develop public/private partnerships around sustainability to the next level.  She is proposing to create a new not-for-profit organization called “Greening the Bend.”  Its mission will be to bring together the artistic, business, not-for-profit, educational, and municipal sectors of the community together to create and help fund sustainability installations.  Her first project will be the installation of a green roof on the Century Center.  This project has been simmering for some time now, but needs an extra push and some additional funding.  As a Sustainability Fellow for the next year, Kathleen will work on getting her not-for-profit status, creating a board of directors, and holding her first major fundraising event, “The Rain Barrel Ball.” 


Jessica Mikels-Carrasco
Jessica will study the Natural Step framework and explore how its sustainability guidelines can apply to environmental education.  During this period, Jessica will participate in Center’s TNS workshops so that she can become a trained facilitator of TNS as well.  As a Sustainability Fellow, the collaboration and training gained by working with the Center for a Sustainable Future will greatly augment her career goals of applying social science research to improving environmental education for young people.  In exchange, she will bring to the Center a commitment to expanding our approaches to sustainability to include the youngest members of society and help us to work on some materials that are directed to helping to educate them about the principles of sustainability.


Kelly Hofferth
Kelly will be focusing on our Friends of the Future annual giving campaign.  Her fellow’s project is to help develop our Friends of the Future campaign and increase our number of donors to 100 during the next year.  This fellowship will help improve our development and outreach efforts. 


2011-2012 Fellows


See Paul talk about his project.
Paul Krikau
is the Director of Housing and Residence Life at Indiana University South Bend.  Paul has worked in student housing at James Madison University, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, University of Wisconsin – Platteville, and Augustana College.  He earned his MS.Ed. in Counseling from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville.  Paul is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at Indiana State University.   During his fellowship Paul plans to work with students, faculty, and staff to educate and encourage residents to reduce water and electrical usage, repurpose and reuse materials common to the halls, and increase the percentage of recycling students do. Other initiatives include:

  • Detailed tracking of utilities usage per house as a contest with the house using the least amount of water and energy winning a pizza party at the end of each semester.
  • Maintaining and coordinating the upkeep of the community garden behind Creek House.
  • Creating a living and learning community of like-minded students interested in improving the sustainability of living on campus
  • Create a tree grove for the campus.
  • Tracking water usage and making recommendation on limiting.
  • Publicizing methods for students to reduce and reuse materials.
  • Encouraging recycling when reduction and reuse strategies are not applicable or fail.
  • Coordinating a tree planting program to increase IU South Bend’s carbon offset and to use as a recognition opportunity for sustainability leaders (trees planted in honor of leaders).
  • Assist in the planning and launch of a new Sustainability Theme House for Fall 2012.


Kathleen Petitjean is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with the South Bend Schools, as well as a locally known artist. She received her Master of LiberalKathleen and Rain Barrels from 2011 Studies degree from IU South Bend and currently serves on the South Bend Green Ribbon Commission.
In order to bring greater awareness to how precious our water supply is, and how we can use it in a more sustainable fashion, she will work with other local artists to create rain barrels out of recycled Coke syrup barrels, and then decorate them with artistic designs for the 2nd Annual Michiana Rain Barrel Art Auction. The project will increase public awareness of the role rainwater runoff has in taxing the capacity of municipal sewer systems and the detrimental effects of combined sewage overflow events on the St. Joseph River, how businesses and residents can help reduce rainwater into sewers by installing rain barrels on their building downspouts, increase public awareness of the natural resource of water and the importance of maintaining its health and provide information on how rain barrels can be constructed and the economic and environmental benefits of using captured rainwater around the home and garden.

A children's rain barrel art project will be displayed beginning March 15 in the lobby of the St. Joseph County-City Building in downtown South Bend, with a prize drawing taking place March 15.
To participate, pick up a coloring page at any PNC bank or download the Rain Barrel Art contest page HERE.


Cherri Peate is a native of South Bend, Indiana. She graduated from Washington High School where she was a member of the National Honor Society. Cherri received her B.A. in Sociology from Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis and a Master of Science from DePaul University Public Service Management, where she became a member of Golden Key International Honour Society. She recently interned with the Association of Fundraising Professionals and worked closely with IUSB’s Center For A Sustainable Future as an inter where she gained skills in creating an annual fundraising campaign and developed a newfound passion for sustainability. This passion has driven her to begin building a social media campaign for IUSB’s Center for a Sustainable Future.
Cherri’s project is to create an effective social media campaign that utilizes the best and most influential web platforms that can help create a strong presence within a virtual community.


Rachel Cox
is a Landscape Designer with Foegley Landscape, Inc. in South Bend.  A native of Iowa and graduate of Iowa State University, Rachel received her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree and spent the last few years practicing in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area.  With an emphasis on residential and community design, she has worked throughout New England on landscape projects varying from historic homes, to urban courtyard and roof top gardens.  Working in such unique spaces allowed her to explore the rising trends of sustainable landscaping and container gardening by combining flowering plants with vegetables and herbs to create both beautiful and edible landscapes.  During her fellowship, Rachel plans to work with Center faculty and students to develop sustainable landscaping practices such as edible gardening and the importance of using native plants in the landscape that can be utilized by not only homeowners, but also business owners, healthcare and educational facilities.

2010-2011 Fellows

Kathleen Petitjean is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with the South Bend Schools, as well as a locally known artist. She received her Master of Liberal Studies degree from IU South Bend and currently serves on the South Bend Green Ribbon Commission. In order to bring greater awareness to how precious our water supply is, and how we can use it in a more sustainable fashion, she will work with other local artists to create rain barrels out of recycled Coke syrup barrels, and then decorate them with artistic designs.

The decorated rain barrels will be auctioned off to local businesses and residences at a Center fundraiser in the spring.
Early press on this event began in October, 2010. Read more here.
Information about the auction, along with pictures of all the barrels from various angles is on the Goodrich Auction Company website.

Marjorie Rusche is a composer and Adjunct Assistant Professor at IU South Bend. She received her doctorate degree in Music Composition at the Indiana University School of Music. Her work has been performed by the South Bend Symphony and in such venues as the Conservatory of Asturias, Spain and the Festival Nieuwe Muziek in Amsterdam, Holland.  During her fellowship she will begin work on a new composition, “Sustainable Songlines,” in which she plans to reach out to the Michiana area in developing texts for a musical composition evoking themes of the sacredness of women and nature, renewal, restoration and respect for our interconnected natural and human resources, and sustainable development. Community members have helped inspire the composition by responding to a survey about their feelings and thoughts about nature.


Angel Hernandez is Vice President of Production for WNIT Public Television.  Angel is an award winning producer who has placed programs on PBS, The Learning Channel, The Travel Channel, and Telemundo.  During his career, he has led his production teams to 8 regional Emmys and 9 Associated Press Awards. During his fellowship Angel plans to work with the Center staff, as well as staff and students from Instructional Media to develop sustainability programming to be broadcast on WNIT featuring local sustainability efforts and initiatives.

Alan Lloyd
Alan Loyd is Director of Memorial Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center and oversees the annual Sunburst Run. He also offers consulting services to the fitness industry in the Midwest. He will work with Center faculty and other local health professionals to identify the connections between sustainability and wellness. Both areas are enjoying increased public awareness relative to their impacts on our individual and collective well-being.  Alan will work to create an educational platform that will demonstrate these similarities and provide specific actions individuals and organizations can participate in that will serve the needs of both.

2009-2010 Fellows


Sara Stewart Uzelac

Sara is a member of the Clinical Faculty at St. Mary’s College with specializations in Community Health, Neurology, Endocrinology, Oncology and Pediatrics.  She is also an active member of the Center’s Agriculture, Food and Values Working Group. 
In the summer of 2008, Sara wanted to do something to improve the health of the community, an outgrowth of the research she has been doing for her Master’s Degree.  She owned a small plot of undeveloped land on the south side of the city, so she decided she and her children would turn it into a garden and make the produce available to any of the local neighbors who wished to harvest it.  When she started the garden, many people told her that in that neighborhood it would just get torn up and destroyed.  However, Sara did not believe this and she was right.  Just the opposite happened.  The garden became a center of neighborhood pride, and then a center of city pride.  Neighbors began to help weed, folks from across the city began to donate supplies and help water, and everyone enjoyed the harvest. 
During 2009, Sara developed her initial idea into the Unity Gardens, a network of 12 gardens throughout the city.
Her Fellowship activities included developing and implementing organic and sustainable farming education, garden to table instruction, and workforce development. The activites and progress of Unity Gardens can be viewed at       


Sam Miller

Sam, an Associate Professional Specialist at the University Notre Dame where he teaches Foresight in Business and Society, is the former Vice President of Strategy and Marketing for JF New, the regions premier ecological consulting, restoration, and native plants firm.  Sam received his MBA from the University of Michigan, and his MS in Innovation and Product Development from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University. He is also a LEED Accredited Professional. 
Sam is passionate about sustainability, a passion that led him to his position at JF New.  He is the leader of their innovation team, and has helped the company to use sustainability as a platform to drive innovation at the company. 

Sam has taught a graduate course on Sustainability and Innovation at IU South Bend.  During his Fellowship he continued to develop the Sustainability and Innovation course, including a possible textbook and other teaching materials, and continued his service on the Center’s Advisory Board.


Tom Butler

Tom Butler is a 96' Graduate of Indiana University's Master of  Environmental Science Program and has a double concentration in Water Resource Management and Hazardous Waste Management.  For the past year, much of his work has focusing on research into the potential for cogeneration of energy from biofuels and wastewater management systems in our region. Mr. Butler's consulting firm, The Sustainable Life Center in Elkhart, IN, has worked on business planning, environmental permit negotiations, patent writing assistance, intellectual property partnerships, community relations, advocacy and grass roots economic redevelopment, and grant writing. He has consulted with three algae technology development companies and has focused on recycling nutrients and saving energy with new low energy based biological remediation systems for agriculture, municipalities and industry. 

During his fellowship, he collaborated with Center faculty on algae technology research for food, fuel and wastewater remediation and worked with professionals in Chicago on sustainable busniess models.


Javaughn Fernanders

Javaughn is a local artist and recent graduate of the Masters of Liberal Studies (MLS) program at IU South Bend.  She is also employed as an Assistant Leisure Services Supervisor for the St. Joseph County Parks. A talented and creative photographer, she has used her skills to depict Images of African-Americans in Nature for her MLS Project. Her posters and her website are both moving and informative.  As a Fellow, she will be preparing her posters for exhibit and beginning to show them regionally. Working in collaboration with the Civil Rights Heritage Center she organized exhibits at the Studebaker Museum as well as at the Civil Rights Heritage Center itself.  Her work can be viewed at
Javaughn is also interested in developing a socially responsible enterprise to bring underserved communities closer to the local natural environment. 
Her exhibit, "Black and Green is Beautiful," opened March 9, 2010 at the Studebaker National Museum. A second show was featured as part of the Civil Rights Heritage Center's B Green 2 Save Green event held October 10, 2010 as part a local "A Day of Climate Change Solutions" event organized by the international climate change action organization,