Editor’s note: This post is Part 25 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.
Dr. Rob Stone & Karen Green Stone: Activists
Dr. Rob Stone and Karen Green Stone are a team, in activism and life. “I’m the pretty face and she’s the brains,” Rob insists.
A physician and an outspoken advocate for single-payer health care, Rob organized Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan (HCHP), the Indiana Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, in 2005.
Karen co-founded the Local Clay Potters’ Guild and Artisan Guilds of Bloomington, which includes fiber and glass artists. She also works with the League of Women Voters. In 2014, the City’s Commission on the Status of Women named her Woman of the Year for her activism.
The couple met in 1980 while protesting at the Rocky Flats nuclear trigger factory near Denver.
Trish Sterling: A One-Woman Success Story
Trish Sterling, owner of Sterling Real Estate and a real estate broker, founded her company during challenging times. Not only was the housing market tough, but, Sterling says, “I had to reinvent myself after a divorce when I was 50.”
Sterling is now one of the area’s top real estate sellers. She was voted Realtor of the Year by her Bloomington Board of Realtors colleagues in 2017, and Sterling Real Estate was voted Small Business of the Year by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce in 2016.
Sterling attributes some success to customer service: “I like to treat people the way I would want to be treated when making a huge investment. I like to help them get into the right house.”
Adria Nassim: Disabilities Advocate
As a person with autism, cerebral palsy, and a learning disability that makes abstract reasoning and spatial relations difficult, Adria Nassim has become an advocate for people with disabilities.
Since 2016, Nassim, 32, has written a biweekly column for The Herald-Times, giving readers her perspective on living with disabilities. She also has part-time jobs at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community and at the College Internship Program (CIP), a private organization supporting young people with autism.
“People have to build their own villages of support,” Nassim says. She relied on CIP to help her complete her bachelor’s degree and, later, to learn independent living skills. She also stresses self-acceptance. “If you love yourself for who you are, others will see that and love you, too.”
Karin Willison: Writer and Editor
As a successful writer and the disabilities editor for The Mighty, a website for people with health challenges and disabilities, Karin Willison defies what people think they know about the lives of disabled people.
Willison, 41, lives with cerebral palsy, the result of brain damage at birth. The disability impairs her movement and she needs assistance to perform many daily tasks. But she lives in her own home, travels for several weeks a year, and writes to inspire others. In her blog, Free Wheelin’, she writes about living and traveling with a disability.
“I want to help people understand more about disabilities and about all the things that people with disabilities can do,” says Willison, a 1995 graduate of Bloomington High School North.
Dashel Oliver: Hockey Player
Thirteen-year-old Dashel Oliver says he doesn’t know when he started playing hockey, just that he’s been on skates and chasing pucks for as long as he can remember. The youngest son of Bill and Kathleen Oliver, Dashel says, “It’s nonstop action, skating at 110% during your shift on the ice.”
A center forward and right winger, Dashel’s coaches and parents noted his talent early on. His improvement, however, was hampered by limited time on the ice—the local rink is only open six months out of the year.
So, late this summer, Dashel and his mother moved to Chicago after he was accepted by the elite Chicago Mission hockey club, with 35 graduates playing professionally. “I knew I was doing something 13-year-old kids don’t do,” he says.
Efrat Feferman: United Way of Monroe County Executive Director
United Way of Monroe County Executive Director Efrat Feferman lists just a few of the services provided by the 25 local agencies supported with United Way funds: food distribution, shelter and housing, early childhood education, after- school tutoring. “We like to say that we touch one in three lives,” she says.
Raised in Mishawaka, Indiana, Feferman, 39, came to Bloomington as an Indiana University student. After interning at Middle Way House, she worked at Stone Belt, was assistant director of finance for the City of Bloomington Utilities, and a member of the United Way board of directors before her appointment as executive director in 2017.
“I think I’ve always believed you can have a great impact in the things in life you touch around you,” Feferman says
Danielle McClelland: Executive Director, Buskirk-Chumley Theater
“The Buskirk-Chumley Theater is not just a business, it’s a soapbox for the community,” Danielle McClelland declares. That’s been her vision since November 2001 when she was named executive director of BCT Management, the nonprofit organization that runs the East Kirkwood landmark.
Owned by the City of Bloomington, the former Indiana Theatre hosts business and local and touring entertainment events.
McClelland was the program director for the Columbus (Indiana) Area Arts Council when the newly created BCT Management hired her on September 11, 2001. “I negotiated my contract over the phone as the Twin Towers were falling.”
McClelland resigned from her position in 2019 to start her own enterprise.