Editor’s note: This post is Part 22 of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” a special retrospective revisiting some of the stories Bloom has published since its inception in 2006. The details in these stories have not been changed since they were originally written, but we have provided updates when possible. Each story highlights an individual who contributed to making Bloomington a compassionate, diverse, and creative community. For more stories from “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” click here.

Tom Allen Steps Up

Photo by Rodney Margison

After one season as Indiana University’s defensive coordinator, Tom Allen has taken over the Hoosiers football program, his first college head-coaching job. “It’s a tremendous honor to be the head coach at Indiana,” Allen, 47, says. “Very few guys get this opportunity.”

IU Athletic Director Fred Glass called Allen “a leader of men” who is demanding without being demeaning. “It’s important to me that they know that they are valued because of who they are,” Allen explains, “not just because of what they do for our team on Saturdays.”

Allen says it isn’t only about winning. “If that ever becomes my number one objective, I think I’ve lost my way,” he says.

Allen lead the 2019 Hoosiers to an 8-5 record and a bowl appearance.

Doris Sims: Public Servant

Photo by Martin Boling

In February, Doris Sims, director of the City of Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development Department, was named a Living Legend at the Black History Month Gala. “It was humbling,” she says.

One of Sims’ idols was Barbara Jordan, the late congresswoman from Texas, a legendary women’s and civil- rights advocate. “I always admired this African American woman who stood up for her beliefs, and so, I said, ‘I’m going into public service,’” Sims says.

After earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Sims began working in Bloomington’s Redevelopment Department, which became the office she now heads.

She has volunteered for many area service agencies, including Girls Inc. and United Way. Currently, she chairs IU Credit Union’s board of directors.

James Sims: NAACP President

Photo by Rodney Margison

James Sims assumed the position of president of the Monroe County Chapter of the NAACP at a time of rising racial tension. “We’ve seen more racially insensitive acts across the country and even in Monroe County since the election [of President Donald Trump],” Sims says. The Monroe County chapter was created in 1978 and it fights for everyone who is discriminated against. “When the majority in America gets a cold,” Sims says, “underrepresented minorities get pneumonia.”

Sims came to Bloomington in 1975 to attend Indiana University after growing up in Muncie, Indiana, and has worked at IU for the past 30 years, currently as an area manager for facilities in Residential Programs.

Sims is now a Bloomington city councilman.

Jeffrey Rudkin: Teaching Video Production and Life Lessons

Photo by Rodney Margison

Jeffrey Rudkin, 56, has been teaching video production for most of his 25 years at Batchelor Middle School. His B-TV students have produced thousands of videos and won more than 600 awards over the past two decades. They won their first national award in 2001.

One recent piece, titled Stand Up, is about bullying. Other productions, in various genres, are about respect, forgiveness, perseverance, helping those in need, and standing up for what is right.

“We are constantly looking for ways that middle school kids can help repair the world,” Rudkin says.

Some kids come out of their shells before a camera. Some kids go on to broadcast careers. “I’ve had the opportunity to teach some outstanding students.”

Stanley Njuguna: Progressive Activist

Photo by Stephen Sproull

Hours after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, a boisterous crowd packed the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in downtown Bloomington for the progressive Inaugurate the Revolution rally. The headline speaker, charged with sending the crowd off electrified and primed for political action, was 20-year-old Indiana University sophomore Stanley Njuguna.

A regular at Bloomington protests, the Muncie native was a featured speaker at the July 2016 Black Lives Matter rally on the downtown Square.

Njuguna says that protest must lead to more direct action, especially at the local level.
“We need to elect more progressive city councils,” he says. “We need more direct democracy. And if we’re blocked on that front, then strikes, walkouts, and boycotts. The next four years are really going to test us.”

Elizabeth “Bet” Savich: Connector of Volunteers

Photo by Rodney Margison

Elizabeth “Bet” Savich, director of the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network since 1995, extols the transformative quality of service. “After I started volunteering, I came to believe in its power,” Savich says. “It changes a person. It changes a community.”

The Volunteer Network is a resource for organizations and individuals. Nonprofit agencies can get help finding, training, and managing volunteers, and also in soliciting materials from donors. People looking to get involved can survey options on the network’s website, bloomingtonvolunteernetwork.org. More than 200 opportunities can be searched by criteria such as the missions of the agencies—relieving poverty, for example, or advancing the arts.

Elaine Guinn: Executive Director, New Hope for Families

Photo by Rodney Margison

Elaine Guinn is the executive director of New Hope for Families, a nonprofit organization that offers shelter and resources to families facing homelessness. She’s also a recovering alcoholic.

Early in adulthood, Guinn says she had occasions of heavy drinking that she thought of as normal. “I did have warning signs in my 20s,” she says, “glimpses of addiction.” But she used her father, who she describes as “the homeless alcoholic,” as her measure. “I didn’t even consider myself a drinker,” she says.

Until she was.

“I realized who I am in this community and what it would mean for me to continue down this path,” Guinn says. “The next day I reached out for help.”

She has been sober since June 3, 2016.

Sean Starowitz: City Arts Advocate

Photo by Stephen Sproull

To Sean Starowitz, 28, the city’s new assistant director for the arts, advancing the arts means developing imaginative approaches to weave arts into the fabric of the city.

He was impressed that Bloomington places the job under the Economic and Sustainable Development Department. “I want to make sure arts are brought to the table not as a decoration, but as a creative approach to solving issues in the context of economic development.”

A Louisville native, Starowitz says the arts can be a tool to tackle tough challenges facing communities, such as food access, affordable housing, workforce development, and community planning issues. “That’s what is really exciting about this position,” he says.

Click here to download a PDF version of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington: Part 22.”