and the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation announced Monday that
the two not-for-profits have merged and will continue operations as the Hoosier
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
The merger will enhance Hoosier Environmental Council's reach in
Northwest and North-Central Indiana, where LEAF has predominantly worked. Kim Ferraro
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."