OUR TOWN

Wesley Alexander: TV Casting Director

Wesley Alexander had an epiphany while working on a feature at Esquire magazine a few years ago. “The story was about men’s suits,” he recalls. “I saw that all the models were blond, and I said, ‘Where is the diversity in this photo shoot?’”

Lemuel Watson: Anti-Racism Leader

Lemuel Watson feels like everything is coming full circle for him. Last year, he left his position as dean of Indiana University’s School of Education to accept two other roles at IU.

Jeremy Price: Sportswriter

During the 19 years that The Herald-Times reporter Jeremy Price has covered Bloomington sports, he’s chronicled the ups and downs of high school and college athletics and seen his share of upheavals at the paper—changes in staff, ownership, and the profession of journalism.

Michelle Moyd: Historian

Before she moved to Bloomington in 2008, Michelle Moyd, the Ruth N. Halls associate professor in the Indiana University Department of History and the associate director of the IU Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, moved around. A lot.

Brad Kimmel: New Head of WFIU & WTIU

Brad Kimmel says he has long been drawn to mission-oriented public media, and “everything lined up” when he was offered the job of executive director at Indiana University Radio and Television Services, which includes WFIU Public Radio and WTIU Public Television.

Alain Barker: IU Music School Career Development Director

The Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University’s world-renowned conservatory, has traditionally prepared students for careers in performing, composing, or teaching music. But in recent years, all of those “legacy tracks” in the music field have evolved dramatically.

Applications Now Open for City’s Solar and Energy Efficiency Loan Grants

As part of Mayor John Hamilton’s Recover Forward initiative, the City of Bloomington is providing support for organizations to improve building efficiency through projects such as solar installation, appliance and lighting upgrades, and weatherization with the goals of reducing utility costs and saving energy.

David Brent Johnson: WFIU-FM Jazz Director

David Brent Johnson was in his early 20s and unsure of what he was going to do with his life until one day he was sitting in a Bloomington coffeehouse and he became aware of the music that was playing

Scott Dolson: Director, IU Intercollegiate Athletics

On March 17, five days after the NCAA canceled its Division I basketball tournaments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana University announced that Scott Dolson, deputy athletic director, would succeed Fred Glass as the university’s director of intercollegiate athletics on July 1.

Elaine Monaghan: Journalist

As a foreign correspondent, Elaine Monaghan witnessed Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday Agreement, covered the Kosovo War, and traveled with two U.S. secretaries of state.

Rahul Shrivastav: IU Dining Director

Restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, concession stands, catering—they are all under the purview of Rahul Shrivastav, executive director of Indiana University Dining.

Joe Weiler: Golfer

Joe Weiler started golfing at the Bloomington Country Club as a way to spend time with his friends. But by the time he hit seventh grade and was consistently beating his father at the game, he realized he was getting pretty good.

Audrey Heller: Theater Pioneer

The Jewish Theatre of Bloomington was founded 15 years ago by Audrey Heller and Bakol Ruben Geller, and while Rubin Geller departed for Israel several years ago, Heller is still going strong.

Doug Bauder: LGBTQ+ Educator

Following his retirement at the end of 2019, Doug Bauder, founding director of the Indiana University LGBTQ+ Culture Center, is ready to start work on a book reflecting on that experience.

John McCluskey: Author, Athlete, Teacher

Back in 1964, when he was a junior at Harvard University, John McCluskey was the first African American to start at quarterback for an Ivy League team. He also started his senior year, and it tickles him now to think that George W. Bush was a cheerleader on the sidelines and that John Kerry watched from the stands while McCluskey led Harvard to victories over Yale.

Michael Shermis: Connector

Michael Shermis is a connector. As a consultant, he facilitates retreats that help nonprofits connect with their missions.

William Vance: Local NAACP President

In 1909, a multi-racial group of activists formed the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. Today, the local branch of the organization maintains that tradition of diversity, with as many white members as African American members.

Rish Naran: From Zimbabwe To Bloomington

At 18, Rishel “Rish” Naran traveled from his home country of Zimbabwe to Texas, his heart set on a career as a professional golfer. Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury during a soccer game, making a golf career unattainable. Changing paths is what eventually landed him in Bloomington where, at 29, he works as the general manager of Andy Mohr Honda.

Kathleen McLean: Bassoonist Professor

When she joined the school band in her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, 11-year-old Kathleen McLean wasn’t really interested in playing the bassoon. Her first choice was the trumpet. But she was assigned the tall, thin woodwind and, she says, “Then I fell in love with the sound, so akin to the human voice.”

Sammy L. Davis: War Hero

Sammy Lee Davis enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam era while a senior at Mooresville High School, south of Indianapolis. He was sent into battle and had been in Vietnam just eight months when, on the night of November 18, 1967, his artillery regiment of 42 was overrun by about 1,500 North Vietnamese soldiers.

Don Griffin Jr.: Realtor and Civic Activist

Fifteen years ago, Don Griffin Jr. had a thriving real estate brokerage but was disillusioned with the business. He stopped advertising, closed his office, and planned to become a chaplain. Then he made a resolution that would change everything. “I decided I would just work with people I like, and it’s not going to be about money but about helping people get to the next chapter in their lives,” Griffin says. “And it was funny. People started coming to me more.”

Katie Mills: Bassoonist Extraordinaire

When she was in middle school and studying the cello, Katie Mills had a musical epiphany: “I knew I wanted to play an instrument that nobody else played.”

Lillian Casillas: Latino Community Advocate

When Lillian Casillas moved to Bloomington from northwestern Indiana in 1985, she joined thousands of other young adults who left home to attend Indiana University. It was a common experience, but Casillas, a native of Mexico, says her Latino heritage and its emphasis on family made the move more significant for her, both geographically and culturally.

William Ramos: Water-Safety Expert

William Ramos has devoted his career to reducing the incidence of drowning. The director of the Indiana University Aquatic Institute and an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies in the IU School of Public Health, Ramos received IU’s 2019 Latino Faculty and Staff Distinguished Faculty Award for his work educating the public on water safety.

John Thiel: Disabled Veteran Activist

Disabled by a leg injury he received in Vietnam, John Thiel retired from the U.S. Army and enrolled at Indiana University in 1971, almost 20 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Barbara Salisbury: Advocate for Blind

Barbara Salisbury probably thinks about getting from point A to point B more often than most people. “For people with disabilities, it doesn’t really matter how accessible the housing, the businesses, and educational settings in the community are if you don’t have a way to get to them,” she says. “Transportation is the glue that holds it all together.”

Tyron Cooper: Musical Polymath

When Tyron Cooper was named director of the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture last year, he set a goal: “To bring our collection alive.”

Donna Walker: President & CEO, Hoosier Energy

Twenty-three years to the day after she joined Hoosier Energy as executive vice president and chief financial officer, Donna Walker was named the electric cooperative’s president and CEO.

Larry Stephens: Risk Management Specialist

Larry Stephens retired in February from his position as Indiana University’s director of insurance, loss control, and claims after nearly four decades with the university.

Steve Dawson: Engineer & Artist

A pivotal moment in Steve Dawson’s creative journey came in a workshop taught by Indianapolis painter C.W. Mundy. “I had told C.W. I was there because I wanted to be an artist,” Dawson explains. “I painted all that week, and at the end, C.W. pulled me aside and said, ‘Stop saying you want to be an artist; you are an artist. You don’t need any more classes. You just need to get out there and do it.’”

Dov-Ber Kerler: 
Yiddish Scholar

Dov-Ber Kerler relishes Yiddish. “It’s a very different language,” says the Indiana University professor of Jewish studies and Germanic studies. “It’s the only other Jewish language that rose to such prominence to be able to rival Hebrew.”

Michael Adams: Lexicographer

Most people think of dictionaries as thick volumes that lay out the definitions of words with resolute authority. But Michael Adams, provost professor of English at Indiana University, sees dictionaries as living documents, very human attempts to capture the complexity of language as it changes over time.

Belinda Johnson-Hurtado: Attorney

The 2018 Women in the Law Recognition Award sits on Belinda Johnson-Hurtado’s desk at the Bloomington law firm Clendening, Johnson & Bohrer (CJB). The award, from the Indiana State Bar Association’s Women in Law Committee, celebrates her commitment to helping people overcome adversity, and serves as a reminder that her own path to success hasn’t been easy.

Jacky Comforty: Documentarian

Jacky Comforty is a documentary filmmaker and oral historian with two seemingly disparate subjects: Holocaust studies and inclusive education.

John Taylor, CEO: Association of College Unions International

Many people know that a student union is a building set aside for the recreational, social, and governmental activities of students, but even people involved in higher education might not know that running a student union is a professional field.

Mary & Morris Hickman Foster Parents

In 29 years of foster parenting, Mary Hickman and her husband, Morris, helped raise 54 foster children alongside their own four children. Some of the foster children stayed as long as 10 years.

Joel Stager Swim Coach & Researcher

Joel Stager has made a career of studying high-performance athletes, so one might assume the goal has been to help them win. But Stager, 66, professor emeritus in the Indiana University Department of Kinesiology, insists winning never was the focus of his life’s work.

Virginia Githiri: PopKorn Professor

Virginia Githiri believes that when people hold back any of their talents, “something in the cycle of humanity is broken.” So she intentionally keeps her talents out front.

Marvin Sterling: Anthropology Professor

Marvin Sterling, associate professor of anthropology at Indiana University, studies Japanese devotees of Jamaican culture—an interest piqued by a doll he saw in a shop window when he was in his early 20s.

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 that has more than 2 million registered users, Karin Willison defies what people think they know about the lives of disabled people.

Nicky James: VP at Cook Medical

“All roads have led to this position for me,” says Nicky James, vice president of human resources and talent development for Cook Medical and its parent company, Cook Group.

Mary Ann Macklin: Activist Minister

It was that nagging little voice inside—along with some encouragement from Mom—that ultimately set Mary Ann Macklin on her true path. Macklin, senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington (UUCB), was once poised to practice law.

Tristra Newyear Yeager: Russophile & Writer

Tristra Newyear Yeager admits these are peculiar times for an admirer of Russian culture. But while American and Russian politicians carry on their geopolitical rivalry, Yeager says both countries have a heartland where the people have more in common than they probably realize. 

David Polly: Paleontologist

As a professor of geological sciences at Indiana University, David Polly uses the past to divine our climatic future. Polly studies how vertebrate animals respond to climate change over geological time.

Emily Herr: Canine Therapist

This past summer, if you paid a visit to Bloomington Animal Care and Control, chances are you would find Zeus, a 1-year-old white pit bull mix, sprawled in the office of Emily Herr.

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.

Yaël Ksander, City Communications Director

As a broadcast journalist, Yaël Ksander estimates she has interviewed more than 7,000 people. Now that she’s been appointed communications director for Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, she’s becoming comfortable on the other side of the microphone.

Caleb Poer: Political Activist

Caleb Poer, 17, admits there was a time when he wasn’t politically aware. “I don’t remember thinking about politics until Barack Obama was running for president,” Poer says. But it isn’t as if he was getting a late start. When Obama announced his candidacy in early 2007, Poer was 6 years old.

Carter Whitson: High School Football Coach

It hardly seems likely that a former Big Ten coach would tackle the coaching duties of a high school football team, but that’s exactly the path Carter Whitson has taken.

Bloom’s Greatest Hits: Dawn Johnsen—Law Professor

It was four years ago, on April 9, 2010, that Dawn Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration as President Barack Obama’s choice to become assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the president and executive branch on all legal matters.

Grey Larsen Folk Artist

For 25 years, Grey Larsen, an accomplished player of the Irish flute and tin whistle, was music editor of Sing Out!, the folk music magazine started by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and other musicians in the late 1940s. His recording career spans 40 years, and he still performs and teaches across North America. But most Tuesdays you’ll find him sharing music and friendship at the Runcible Spoon’s Irish music jam session. “Playing music, for me, can’t be separated from the experience of getting to know another person, and really caring about who they are,” Larsen says.

Jose Mario Arango Violinist, Lawyer, Chef

Figuring out one’s life as a college freshman sometimes means there will be a few twists and turns along the way. But that doesn’t mean things won’t all turn out better for it. So says Jose Mario Arango.

Laury Flint IU Police Chief

Before Cagney & Lacey ever aired, Indiana University Police Department Chief Laury Flint knew she wanted to be a cop. “I was 8,” Flint says. “My parents were supportive, but they hoped I’d eventually change my mind and go into something safer.”

L. Julius Hanks II MCCSC Coordinator of Diversity Opportunities

On a wall in his office at the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC), L. Julius Hanks II has a picture of the Bloomington High School North track team from his days as a runner. “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. But we loved each other so much. Our coach called us the Cadillac Crew.”

Blond Genius Denim Bar—More Than Just Jeans (PHOTO GALLERY)

When Katie Whitson moved from Iowa to Bloomington to be closer to her family, she realized that many of her favorite clothing brands weren’t available here. She opened the first Blond Genius store outside of Iowa in Fountain Square Mall in December 2015. In August 2016, she relocated to Renwick Village Center.

Sam DeWeese: Ivy Tech Vice Chancellor

Having grown up in the northern part of Indiana, Sam DeWeese, Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington vice chancellor for student success, truly appreciates the rolling hills surrounding his adopted hometown. “I’m from Muncie, which is very flat,” he says. “It’s not very interesting, in terms of the landscape. So, it’s fun to see the various terrains here.” 

Danielle McClelland: Executive Director, Buskirk-Chumley

“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. 

Ron Hafft: Librarian

To put things in perspective, when Ron Hafft began working at Indiana University Libraries, the Beatles had recently performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. “I thought I would work here for a couple of years,” he says. Last summer, Hafft, who is now the library’s computer coordinator, hit the 50-year mark. 

Archer Foundation Teaches Children How to Garden

With a mission “to help boys and girls learn about gardening,” the George E. Archer Foundation (GEAF) works with schools and nonprofit organizations by funding horticulture-based curriculum and activities. Formerly the Hilltop Educational Foundation, the GEAF was established in 1984 to support children’s gardening through advocacy, fundraising, and volunteer efforts.

Jason Jackson: Director, Mathers Museum

Jason Jackson likes to think of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures as a gateway between Indiana University and the community. “We’re deliberately located on the edge of campus,” he says of the museum at 416 N. Indiana Ave. “If you stand in the lobby and look left, you’ll see the west door that looks out onto the city of Bloomington. The east door, to the right, looks toward campus. We invite folks to come through whichever door is closer to them.”

BLOOM’S GREATEST HITS: Don Fischer—Sportscaster

For the past 38 years, Don Fischer has been the voice of Indiana University football and basketball. He’s done play-by-play for more than 1,600 games, including three IU NCAA basketball championships (1976, 1981, 1987) and eight IU football bowl games, as well as hosted weekly coaches shows and anchored the daily radio program IU Sports Today. 

Janae Cummings: Chair, Bloomington PRIDE

The level of support for LGBTQ+ people in Bloomington depends on your identity, says Janae Cummings, the chair of Bloomington PRIDE. “If you’re gay or lesbian, Bloomington is welcoming,” she explains. “If you are transgender or on the margins, the community has a way to go.”

Alana Wiesing, Timpanist

No major symphony in the United States has a female principal timpanist. Alana Wiesing would like to be the first. 

Brian Oliger IU Police Officer

In 1998, Brian Oliger was student teaching art in a Bachelor Middle School classroom. He’d come to Bloomington from Seymour, Indiana, to earn a degree in art education at Indiana University.

Victor Kaposonore Manager, Uptown Cafe

As daytime manager, Victor Kaposonore is the face of the Uptown Cafe for breakfast and lunchtime diners. “We want it to be a casual place where everyone feels welcome,” he says. “I’ve made a lot of friends here.”

Kate Braun: Actor

The moment Kate Braun felt compelled to become an actor is a moment as poignant as one you might witness onstage. 

Recipes for Fall from ‘Earth Eats’ Book

For more than eight years, WFIU-FM has provided locally sourced food ideas via its weekly Earth Eats radio show. A cookbook written by the program’s former host, Annie Corrigan, along with program contributor Chef Daniel Orr, allows foodies to keep Earth Eats at their fingertips.

Aliya Rife Youth Leader

Like any high-achieving high school freshman, Aliya Rife thought it would be a good idea to get some volunteer service on her resume before she started filling out college applications.

Jessica Strunk Ivy Tech Vice Chancellor

When Jessica Strunk came to Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington in 2004, the career path she imagined for herself was confined. “I had my life all figured out,” she says. “I wanted to get an associate degree in office administration, and then I planned to be a secretary forever.”

Fred Parker Jazz Promoter

When the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network gave its 2017 Be More Creative Award to Fred Parker for his decade-long work promoting jazz in Bloomington, they intended to spring it on him as a surprise. They almost succeeded.

Waew Chantar: Entrepreneur

Since leaving Surat Thani nearly 30 years ago, Waew Chantar, now a Bloomington resident, has launched successful businesses on two continents.

Tom Miller: Innovation Director

When Tom Miller began his new position as Bloomington’s director of innovation in January, he knew there would be challenges.

Daniel Larsen: Smart Kid

At the end of May, when many of his peers were kicking back and putting seventh grade behind them, Daniel Larsen was traveling to Washington, D.C., to compete in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Lauren MacLean: Political Scientist

In 2015, the Carnegie Corporation of New York established the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program to support journalists, authors, and scholars conducting research…

Doris Sims: Public Servant

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. “I thought, ‘Oh, to be put in that category!’ I never set out to be a legend,” Sims says. “It was humbling.”

Ransom Haile: Rocker

Back in the day, Ransom Haile was among Bloomington’s busiest musicians. Most notably, he played lead guitar for the Dynamics, one of the Midwest’s most celebrated funk bands. These days, though, poking at a fire and sipping kombucha, Haile seems much more attuned to the birdsong in his wooded yard southwest of downtown.

John Patten: President, Smithville Communications

When John Patten was named the first non-family president of Ellettsville-based Smithville Communications in 2016, it was the culmination of a journey that began in south-central Indiana and came full circle more than four decades later.

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OUR TOWN

Wesley Alexander: TV Casting Director

Wesley Alexander had an epiphany while working on a feature at Esquire magazine a few years ago. “The story was about men’s suits,” he recalls. “I saw that all the models were blond, and I said, ‘Where is the diversity in this photo shoot?’”

Lemuel Watson: Anti-Racism Leader

Lemuel Watson feels like everything is coming full circle for him. Last year, he left his position as dean of Indiana University’s School of Education to accept two other roles at IU.

Jeremy Price: Sportswriter

During the 19 years that The Herald-Times reporter Jeremy Price has covered Bloomington sports, he’s chronicled the ups and downs of high school and college athletics and seen his share of upheavals at the paper—changes in staff, ownership, and the profession of journalism.

Michelle Moyd: Historian

Before she moved to Bloomington in 2008, Michelle Moyd, the Ruth N. Halls associate professor in the Indiana University Department of History and the associate director of the IU Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, moved around. A lot.

Brad Kimmel: New Head of WFIU & WTIU

Brad Kimmel says he has long been drawn to mission-oriented public media, and “everything lined up” when he was offered the job of executive director at Indiana University Radio and Television Services, which includes WFIU Public Radio and WTIU Public Television.

Alain Barker: IU Music School Career Development Director

The Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University’s world-renowned conservatory, has traditionally prepared students for careers in performing, composing, or teaching music. But in recent years, all of those “legacy tracks” in the music field have evolved dramatically.

Applications Now Open for City’s Solar and Energy Efficiency Loan Grants

As part of Mayor John Hamilton’s Recover Forward initiative, the City of Bloomington is providing support for organizations to improve building efficiency through projects such as solar installation, appliance and lighting upgrades, and weatherization with the goals of reducing utility costs and saving energy.

David Brent Johnson: WFIU-FM Jazz Director

David Brent Johnson was in his early 20s and unsure of what he was going to do with his life until one day he was sitting in a Bloomington coffeehouse and he became aware of the music that was playing

Scott Dolson: Director, IU Intercollegiate Athletics

On March 17, five days after the NCAA canceled its Division I basketball tournaments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana University announced that Scott Dolson, deputy athletic director, would succeed Fred Glass as the university’s director of intercollegiate athletics on July 1.

Elaine Monaghan: Journalist

As a foreign correspondent, Elaine Monaghan witnessed Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday Agreement, covered the Kosovo War, and traveled with two U.S. secretaries of state.

Rahul Shrivastav: IU Dining Director

Restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, concession stands, catering—they are all under the purview of Rahul Shrivastav, executive director of Indiana University Dining.

Joe Weiler: Golfer

Joe Weiler started golfing at the Bloomington Country Club as a way to spend time with his friends. But by the time he hit seventh grade and was consistently beating his father at the game, he realized he was getting pretty good.

Audrey Heller: Theater Pioneer

The Jewish Theatre of Bloomington was founded 15 years ago by Audrey Heller and Bakol Ruben Geller, and while Rubin Geller departed for Israel several years ago, Heller is still going strong.

Doug Bauder: LGBTQ+ Educator

Following his retirement at the end of 2019, Doug Bauder, founding director of the Indiana University LGBTQ+ Culture Center, is ready to start work on a book reflecting on that experience.

John McCluskey: Author, Athlete, Teacher

Back in 1964, when he was a junior at Harvard University, John McCluskey was the first African American to start at quarterback for an Ivy League team. He also started his senior year, and it tickles him now to think that George W. Bush was a cheerleader on the sidelines and that John Kerry watched from the stands while McCluskey led Harvard to victories over Yale.

Michael Shermis: Connector

Michael Shermis is a connector. As a consultant, he facilitates retreats that help nonprofits connect with their missions.

William Vance: Local NAACP President

In 1909, a multi-racial group of activists formed the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. Today, the local branch of the organization maintains that tradition of diversity, with as many white members as African American members.

Rish Naran: From Zimbabwe To Bloomington

At 18, Rishel “Rish” Naran traveled from his home country of Zimbabwe to Texas, his heart set on a career as a professional golfer. Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury during a soccer game, making a golf career unattainable. Changing paths is what eventually landed him in Bloomington where, at 29, he works as the general manager of Andy Mohr Honda.

Kathleen McLean: Bassoonist Professor

When she joined the school band in her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, 11-year-old Kathleen McLean wasn’t really interested in playing the bassoon. Her first choice was the trumpet. But she was assigned the tall, thin woodwind and, she says, “Then I fell in love with the sound, so akin to the human voice.”

Sammy L. Davis: War Hero

Sammy Lee Davis enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam era while a senior at Mooresville High School, south of Indianapolis. He was sent into battle and had been in Vietnam just eight months when, on the night of November 18, 1967, his artillery regiment of 42 was overrun by about 1,500 North Vietnamese soldiers.

Don Griffin Jr.: Realtor and Civic Activist

Fifteen years ago, Don Griffin Jr. had a thriving real estate brokerage but was disillusioned with the business. He stopped advertising, closed his office, and planned to become a chaplain. Then he made a resolution that would change everything. “I decided I would just work with people I like, and it’s not going to be about money but about helping people get to the next chapter in their lives,” Griffin says. “And it was funny. People started coming to me more.”

Katie Mills: Bassoonist Extraordinaire

When she was in middle school and studying the cello, Katie Mills had a musical epiphany: “I knew I wanted to play an instrument that nobody else played.”

Lillian Casillas: Latino Community Advocate

When Lillian Casillas moved to Bloomington from northwestern Indiana in 1985, she joined thousands of other young adults who left home to attend Indiana University. It was a common experience, but Casillas, a native of Mexico, says her Latino heritage and its emphasis on family made the move more significant for her, both geographically and culturally.

William Ramos: Water-Safety Expert

William Ramos has devoted his career to reducing the incidence of drowning. The director of the Indiana University Aquatic Institute and an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies in the IU School of Public Health, Ramos received IU’s 2019 Latino Faculty and Staff Distinguished Faculty Award for his work educating the public on water safety.

John Thiel: Disabled Veteran Activist

Disabled by a leg injury he received in Vietnam, John Thiel retired from the U.S. Army and enrolled at Indiana University in 1971, almost 20 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Barbara Salisbury: Advocate for Blind

Barbara Salisbury probably thinks about getting from point A to point B more often than most people. “For people with disabilities, it doesn’t really matter how accessible the housing, the businesses, and educational settings in the community are if you don’t have a way to get to them,” she says. “Transportation is the glue that holds it all together.”

Tyron Cooper: Musical Polymath

When Tyron Cooper was named director of the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture last year, he set a goal: “To bring our collection alive.”

Donna Walker: President & CEO, Hoosier Energy

Twenty-three years to the day after she joined Hoosier Energy as executive vice president and chief financial officer, Donna Walker was named the electric cooperative’s president and CEO.

Larry Stephens: Risk Management Specialist

Larry Stephens retired in February from his position as Indiana University’s director of insurance, loss control, and claims after nearly four decades with the university.

Steve Dawson: Engineer & Artist

A pivotal moment in Steve Dawson’s creative journey came in a workshop taught by Indianapolis painter C.W. Mundy. “I had told C.W. I was there because I wanted to be an artist,” Dawson explains. “I painted all that week, and at the end, C.W. pulled me aside and said, ‘Stop saying you want to be an artist; you are an artist. You don’t need any more classes. You just need to get out there and do it.’”

Dov-Ber Kerler: 
Yiddish Scholar

Dov-Ber Kerler relishes Yiddish. “It’s a very different language,” says the Indiana University professor of Jewish studies and Germanic studies. “It’s the only other Jewish language that rose to such prominence to be able to rival Hebrew.”

Michael Adams: Lexicographer

Most people think of dictionaries as thick volumes that lay out the definitions of words with resolute authority. But Michael Adams, provost professor of English at Indiana University, sees dictionaries as living documents, very human attempts to capture the complexity of language as it changes over time.

Belinda Johnson-Hurtado: Attorney

The 2018 Women in the Law Recognition Award sits on Belinda Johnson-Hurtado’s desk at the Bloomington law firm Clendening, Johnson & Bohrer (CJB). The award, from the Indiana State Bar Association’s Women in Law Committee, celebrates her commitment to helping people overcome adversity, and serves as a reminder that her own path to success hasn’t been easy.

Jacky Comforty: Documentarian

Jacky Comforty is a documentary filmmaker and oral historian with two seemingly disparate subjects: Holocaust studies and inclusive education.

John Taylor, CEO: Association of College Unions International

Many people know that a student union is a building set aside for the recreational, social, and governmental activities of students, but even people involved in higher education might not know that running a student union is a professional field.

Mary & Morris Hickman Foster Parents

In 29 years of foster parenting, Mary Hickman and her husband, Morris, helped raise 54 foster children alongside their own four children. Some of the foster children stayed as long as 10 years.

Joel Stager Swim Coach & Researcher

Joel Stager has made a career of studying high-performance athletes, so one might assume the goal has been to help them win. But Stager, 66, professor emeritus in the Indiana University Department of Kinesiology, insists winning never was the focus of his life’s work.

Virginia Githiri: PopKorn Professor

Virginia Githiri believes that when people hold back any of their talents, “something in the cycle of humanity is broken.” So she intentionally keeps her talents out front.

Marvin Sterling: Anthropology Professor

Marvin Sterling, associate professor of anthropology at Indiana University, studies Japanese devotees of Jamaican culture—an interest piqued by a doll he saw in a shop window when he was in his early 20s.

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 that has more than 2 million registered users, Karin Willison defies what people think they know about the lives of disabled people.

Nicky James: VP at Cook Medical

“All roads have led to this position for me,” says Nicky James, vice president of human resources and talent development for Cook Medical and its parent company, Cook Group.

Mary Ann Macklin: Activist Minister

It was that nagging little voice inside—along with some encouragement from Mom—that ultimately set Mary Ann Macklin on her true path. Macklin, senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington (UUCB), was once poised to practice law.

Tristra Newyear Yeager: Russophile & Writer

Tristra Newyear Yeager admits these are peculiar times for an admirer of Russian culture. But while American and Russian politicians carry on their geopolitical rivalry, Yeager says both countries have a heartland where the people have more in common than they probably realize. 

David Polly: Paleontologist

As a professor of geological sciences at Indiana University, David Polly uses the past to divine our climatic future. Polly studies how vertebrate animals respond to climate change over geological time.

Emily Herr: Canine Therapist

This past summer, if you paid a visit to Bloomington Animal Care and Control, chances are you would find Zeus, a 1-year-old white pit bull mix, sprawled in the office of Emily Herr.

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.

Yaël Ksander, City Communications Director

As a broadcast journalist, Yaël Ksander estimates she has interviewed more than 7,000 people. Now that she’s been appointed communications director for Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, she’s becoming comfortable on the other side of the microphone.

Caleb Poer: Political Activist

Caleb Poer, 17, admits there was a time when he wasn’t politically aware. “I don’t remember thinking about politics until Barack Obama was running for president,” Poer says. But it isn’t as if he was getting a late start. When Obama announced his candidacy in early 2007, Poer was 6 years old.

Carter Whitson: High School Football Coach

It hardly seems likely that a former Big Ten coach would tackle the coaching duties of a high school football team, but that’s exactly the path Carter Whitson has taken.

Bloom’s Greatest Hits: Dawn Johnsen—Law Professor

It was four years ago, on April 9, 2010, that Dawn Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration as President Barack Obama’s choice to become assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the president and executive branch on all legal matters.

Grey Larsen Folk Artist

For 25 years, Grey Larsen, an accomplished player of the Irish flute and tin whistle, was music editor of Sing Out!, the folk music magazine started by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and other musicians in the late 1940s. His recording career spans 40 years, and he still performs and teaches across North America. But most Tuesdays you’ll find him sharing music and friendship at the Runcible Spoon’s Irish music jam session. “Playing music, for me, can’t be separated from the experience of getting to know another person, and really caring about who they are,” Larsen says.

Jose Mario Arango Violinist, Lawyer, Chef

Figuring out one’s life as a college freshman sometimes means there will be a few twists and turns along the way. But that doesn’t mean things won’t all turn out better for it. So says Jose Mario Arango.

Laury Flint IU Police Chief

Before Cagney & Lacey ever aired, Indiana University Police Department Chief Laury Flint knew she wanted to be a cop. “I was 8,” Flint says. “My parents were supportive, but they hoped I’d eventually change my mind and go into something safer.”

L. Julius Hanks II MCCSC Coordinator of Diversity Opportunities

On a wall in his office at the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC), L. Julius Hanks II has a picture of the Bloomington High School North track team from his days as a runner. “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. But we loved each other so much. Our coach called us the Cadillac Crew.”

Blond Genius Denim Bar—More Than Just Jeans (PHOTO GALLERY)

When Katie Whitson moved from Iowa to Bloomington to be closer to her family, she realized that many of her favorite clothing brands weren’t available here. She opened the first Blond Genius store outside of Iowa in Fountain Square Mall in December 2015. In August 2016, she relocated to Renwick Village Center.

Sam DeWeese: Ivy Tech Vice Chancellor

Having grown up in the northern part of Indiana, Sam DeWeese, Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington vice chancellor for student success, truly appreciates the rolling hills surrounding his adopted hometown. “I’m from Muncie, which is very flat,” he says. “It’s not very interesting, in terms of the landscape. So, it’s fun to see the various terrains here.” 

Danielle McClelland: Executive Director, Buskirk-Chumley

“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. 

Ron Hafft: Librarian

To put things in perspective, when Ron Hafft began working at Indiana University Libraries, the Beatles had recently performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. “I thought I would work here for a couple of years,” he says. Last summer, Hafft, who is now the library’s computer coordinator, hit the 50-year mark. 

Archer Foundation Teaches Children How to Garden

With a mission “to help boys and girls learn about gardening,” the George E. Archer Foundation (GEAF) works with schools and nonprofit organizations by funding horticulture-based curriculum and activities. Formerly the Hilltop Educational Foundation, the GEAF was established in 1984 to support children’s gardening through advocacy, fundraising, and volunteer efforts.

Jason Jackson: Director, Mathers Museum

Jason Jackson likes to think of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures as a gateway between Indiana University and the community. “We’re deliberately located on the edge of campus,” he says of the museum at 416 N. Indiana Ave. “If you stand in the lobby and look left, you’ll see the west door that looks out onto the city of Bloomington. The east door, to the right, looks toward campus. We invite folks to come through whichever door is closer to them.”

BLOOM’S GREATEST HITS: Don Fischer—Sportscaster

For the past 38 years, Don Fischer has been the voice of Indiana University football and basketball. He’s done play-by-play for more than 1,600 games, including three IU NCAA basketball championships (1976, 1981, 1987) and eight IU football bowl games, as well as hosted weekly coaches shows and anchored the daily radio program IU Sports Today. 

Janae Cummings: Chair, Bloomington PRIDE

The level of support for LGBTQ+ people in Bloomington depends on your identity, says Janae Cummings, the chair of Bloomington PRIDE. “If you’re gay or lesbian, Bloomington is welcoming,” she explains. “If you are transgender or on the margins, the community has a way to go.”

Alana Wiesing, Timpanist

No major symphony in the United States has a female principal timpanist. Alana Wiesing would like to be the first. 

Brian Oliger IU Police Officer

In 1998, Brian Oliger was student teaching art in a Bachelor Middle School classroom. He’d come to Bloomington from Seymour, Indiana, to earn a degree in art education at Indiana University.

Victor Kaposonore Manager, Uptown Cafe

As daytime manager, Victor Kaposonore is the face of the Uptown Cafe for breakfast and lunchtime diners. “We want it to be a casual place where everyone feels welcome,” he says. “I’ve made a lot of friends here.”

Kate Braun: Actor

The moment Kate Braun felt compelled to become an actor is a moment as poignant as one you might witness onstage. 

Recipes for Fall from ‘Earth Eats’ Book

For more than eight years, WFIU-FM has provided locally sourced food ideas via its weekly Earth Eats radio show. A cookbook written by the program’s former host, Annie Corrigan, along with program contributor Chef Daniel Orr, allows foodies to keep Earth Eats at their fingertips.

Aliya Rife Youth Leader

Like any high-achieving high school freshman, Aliya Rife thought it would be a good idea to get some volunteer service on her resume before she started filling out college applications.

Jessica Strunk Ivy Tech Vice Chancellor

When Jessica Strunk came to Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington in 2004, the career path she imagined for herself was confined. “I had my life all figured out,” she says. “I wanted to get an associate degree in office administration, and then I planned to be a secretary forever.”

Fred Parker Jazz Promoter

When the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network gave its 2017 Be More Creative Award to Fred Parker for his decade-long work promoting jazz in Bloomington, they intended to spring it on him as a surprise. They almost succeeded.

Waew Chantar: Entrepreneur

Since leaving Surat Thani nearly 30 years ago, Waew Chantar, now a Bloomington resident, has launched successful businesses on two continents.

Tom Miller: Innovation Director

When Tom Miller began his new position as Bloomington’s director of innovation in January, he knew there would be challenges.

Daniel Larsen: Smart Kid

At the end of May, when many of his peers were kicking back and putting seventh grade behind them, Daniel Larsen was traveling to Washington, D.C., to compete in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Lauren MacLean: Political Scientist

In 2015, the Carnegie Corporation of New York established the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program to support journalists, authors, and scholars conducting research…

Doris Sims: Public Servant

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. “I thought, ‘Oh, to be put in that category!’ I never set out to be a legend,” Sims says. “It was humbling.”

Ransom Haile: Rocker

Back in the day, Ransom Haile was among Bloomington’s busiest musicians. Most notably, he played lead guitar for the Dynamics, one of the Midwest’s most celebrated funk bands. These days, though, poking at a fire and sipping kombucha, Haile seems much more attuned to the birdsong in his wooded yard southwest of downtown.

John Patten: President, Smithville Communications

When John Patten was named the first non-family president of Ellettsville-based Smithville Communications in 2016, it was the culmination of a journey that began in south-central Indiana and came full circle more than four decades later.

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