Editor’s note: This post is Part 24 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.
Connie & Steve Ferguson: ‘You Can’t Ever Take An Education Away from Anybody’
Steve and Connie Ferguson are committed to improving educational opportunities. The main building at Ivy Tech Community College– Bloomington bears their names in recognition of their $1 million contribution to the campus.
In addition, they’ve provided Ivy Tech students with endowed scholarships in nursing, biotechology, radiation therapy, and other programs.
“If somebody has an education, they can take care of themselves,” Steve says. “You can’t ever take an education away from anybody.”
Connie owns CS Property Management. Steve is chairman of the board of Cook Group. They have been married for 25 years.
“Couples disagree about how to spend money,” Connie says. “We have never disagreed about how to give money.”
Mary Ann Macklin: Activist Minister
Mary Ann Macklin has served the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington (UUCB) for 17 years—originally as a student minister and in her current role as senior minister.
Macklin has a law degree from Indiana University and is active in social justice work. “Critical thinking and understanding the law help a lot with social justice,” Macklin, 58, says. “I probably don’t even realize how much that impacts me.”
The UUCB has 12 social justice groups working for reproductive rights, homelessness, hunger, and more, but their work goes beyond demonstrating and contacting legislators. For Macklin, helping others become leaders is just as important. “Leadership is much more about what we’re doing together,” she says.
Fred Glass: 10 Years at The Helm of IU Sports
On January 1, 2009, Fred Glass, then a 49-year-old father of four, began his first day on the job as vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics at Indiana University.
Considering the rapid turnover of athletic directors at IU—he is the fifth IU athletic director in eight years—few people would have predicted that a decade later he would still be at the helm, clearly exceeding all expectations.
Glass lists the IU Excellence Academy and the Student- Athlete Bill of Rights as his biggest accomplishments as athletic director.
“The ultimate goal of Indiana University Athletics is to develop our kids academically, athletically, and personally better than any other school in the country,” Glass says. “That’s our big idea and what we want to do.”
Glass retired at the end of the 2019–20 academic year after more than 11 years as IU Athletic Director.
Sara Hamidovic: Environmentalist and First Female to Lead Platoon in Combat
Bloomington’s Sara Hamidovic, 36, is the first U.S. woman ever to lead a combat platoon. Her 31-man Assault and Obstacle Platoon cleared roadside bombs in Ramadi, Iraq.
Back in Bloomington, Hamidovic, an environmental engineer, worked on soil and groundwater remediation for Fields Environmental Inc. and completed a graduate degree in environmental science and public affairs. In 2013, she became the owner and principal engineer of VET
Environmental Engineering. VET helps landowners and operators navigate environmental regulations. Failure to comply means fines and even jail time. “Many clients don’t care about regulations, so we attack it from this angle: the environment is benefitting, the regulators are happy—and the business is benefitting. Everyone’s happy.”
L. Julius Hanks II: MCCSC Coordinator of Diversity Opportunities
On a wall in his office, L. Julius Hanks II has a picture of a Bloomington High School North track team. “I call them my brothers, which confuses people,” Hanks says, “because you have a 6-foot-4 redhead with Irish background, a 5-foot Korean guy, a guy from Thailand, an African American.” The team set two school records.
As the Monroe County Community School Corporation’s coordinator of diversity opportunities, charged with keeping the district focused on equity, Hanks, 31, still sees his track team as a model.
“Every single parent, student, visitor, or guardian in our school should feel welcome, no matter what your race, gender, ethnicity, if you’re abled or disabled. One of my roles is making sure that’s embedded in things we do every day.”
Caleb Poer: Political Activist
Indiana University freshman Caleb Poer, 17, became a political leader his junior year at Bloomington High School North after some students displayed the Confederate flag and shouted racial and sexual-orientation slurs. “I told the administration they had to shut it down,” he says.
After Poer instigated a protest at its administration building, the Monroe County Community School Corporation banned the Confederate flag in its schools. That same year, Poer spoke on a student panel about racial justice in schools to a National Education Association conference. This spring, he helped organize the local student walkout against gun violence.
In 2017, the Bloomington Commission on the Status of Black Males named Poer the Outstanding Black Male Leader of Tomorrow. He’s twice received the Monroe County Excellence in Leadership Award.
Jason Jackson: Director, Mathers Museum
“I worked at the Mathers Museum as an IU graduate student,” Jason Jackson muses. “When I left, I was the low man on the totem pole.”
In 2013, Jackson, 49, became director of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave. He has been teaching folklore and anthropology at Indiana University since 2004.
As director, Jackson has overseen physical changes to the facility and instituted Traditional Arts Indiana, a partnership between IU and the Indiana Arts Commission.
The program sends exhibits to libraries statewide. The Mathers offers diverse, rapidly changing exhibits, and a large number of concerts. “And it’s all free,” Jackson says.
“Our goal is to give people a different experience each time they visit the museum.”
Tina & Dan Peterson: ‘Making a Difference in The Place We Call Home’
Raised in a military family, Tina Peterson never lived in one place for more than five years until she came to Bloomington 26 years ago.
Now she’s president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, which fosters the growth of local educational opportunities, economic development, and resources for basic human needs. She is also the CEO of Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. (ROI), which has parallel goals for 11 south-central Indiana counties.
Dan, an Indiana native, is vice president of industry and government affairs for Cook Group. He also serves on the board of BioCrossroads, the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, and ROI, among others.
“All of our work, which is very much complementary, aligns,” Dan says.
Emily Pike: New Director of New Hope for Families
Emily Pike, the new executive director of New Hope for Families, which has sheltered homeless families since 2011, looks forward to the nonprofit’s move from West 2nd Street in 2020.
Plans are to continue housing eight to 10 families and expand the number of children in The Nest, New Hope’s child care facility, from 16 to at least 48. “Affordable housing and affordable child care are the greatest needs in our community,” she says.
Pike feels that New Hope’s shelter model is innovative. “When we offer case management and do the paperwork immediately, we can get families into stable housing right away.”
Since 2016, more than 80 percent of New Hope’s families have transitioned to permanent housing compared with 57 percent statewide. “We’re really proud of that.”