The Hoosier Environmental Council and the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation announced Monday that the two not-for-profits have merged and will continue operations as the Hoosier Environmental Council.
The merged group will focus on "advocating for priorities that advance Indiana's environment and business climate such as clean energy, 21st Century transportation systems and sustainable agriculture," HEC said in a press release.
"Through previous successful partnerships, HEC and LEAF have discovered there is a great deal of synergy in our missions, staff, services to the public, and reach throughout the state of Indiana," said Jesse Kharbanda, the Hoosier Environmental County's executive director. "By joining forces, our organization will be able to better educate and advocate for solutions that better protect our air, water, and wilderness, while making our state more economically prosperous."
Previously, HEC focused largely on environmental policy development and advocacy. LEAF focused on providing legal representation and assistance to communities trying to balance economic development and environmental protection.
The merger will enhance Hoosier Environmental Council's reach in Northwest and North-Central Indiana, where LEAF has predominantly worked. Kim Ferraro, who had been LEAF's executive director, will assume the role of water and agricultural policy director for the merged group.
HEC will open up a third office in Valparaiso, while its
headquarters will remain in Indianapolis.
"A balanced environmental policy that promotes sustainable development and environmental preservation is essential for improving quality of life among Hoosiers," said Ferraro in a statement. "Combining our strengths will expand the capacity of our new organization to ensure public interests, not special interests, drive environmental policy and land use decisions which will make our state a better and safer place to live, work and play."