The Heartwood Council are volunteers who direct, advise, inspire, inform and do the work of Heartwood. We are representatives of our individual bioregions and communities. We are representatives of small, grassroots groups. We are community leaders and network organizers. We are activists. We bring literally hundreds of years of experience and passion to our work. We are people helping people save the places that they love.
- Myke Luurtsema, Chair, Indiana
- David Nickell, Vice Chair, Kentucky
- Kris Lasher, Treasurer, Indiana
- Ernie Reed, Secretary, Virginia
- Rock Emmert, Indiana
- Joe Hazelbaker, Ohio
- Corina Lang, Illinois
- Matt Peters, Pennsylvania
- Tabitha Tripp, Illinois
- Jillian Borchard, Maryland
- Michael Hendrix, Eastern Kentucky
- Mark Donham, Illinois
- David Haberman, Indiana
- Davis Mounger, Tennessee
- Sam Stearns, Illinois
- Helen M. Vasquez, Personnel Committee Chair, Indiana
- Andy Mahler, Indiana
- Tabitha Tripp, Heartwood Coordinator, Illinois
- Matt Peters, Membership and Web Tech Coordinator
- Tammy Ford, Bookkeeper, Indiana
Myke Luurtsema is a lifelong Hoosier who grew up playing in a small patch of woods in north-central Indiana. He cites getting lost in Brown County State Park alone at the age of 8 as one of his formative experiences, as well as a 6-month stint doing trail work on the Pacific Crest Trail. These days, Myke can be found in the garden, on a basketball court, or wandering the Panther Creek area of the Hoosier National Forest. He is inspired by wild people and wild places, working with the former to protect the latter.
Sam Stearns is from Southern Illinois and has dedicated most of his life to protecting Bell Smith Springs. He is one of the founders for the Friends of Bell Smith Springs. Sam works with various other groups on anti-fracking issues as well as other anti-extraction activism. He does forest watch on the Shawnee National Forest.
Kris Lasher and Rock Emmert, are from Southern Indiana and worked diligently to stop a biomass incinerator in Jasper, IN with the group Healthy Dubois County. They are organizers for the Ferdinand Folk Festival which brings many environmental groups to the public eye. Both are also part of Project Acorn, which strives to acknowledge and utilize the gifts of local citizens, and to celebrate and build community through music, art, environment, and wellness education
Joe Hazelbaker is an early member of the Heartwood network. Having done a previous stint on the Council in the 1990s, Joe is back for round two.
Although Corina Lang initially became involved in environmental activism to help protect the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois as a member of R.A.C.E, her connection with Heartwood has led her to be concerned with issues in other folks’ back yards, not just her own, such as Mountain Top Removal. Currently she is embroiled in the efforts to protect her own neck of the woods from fracking and strip mining. Life interests include dancing and guerilla theater.
David Nickell is a sixth generation denizen of far western Kentucky. He farms, teaches philosophy and sociology, and tries to do as little damage as possible. He is dedicated to protecting the LBL region of Kentucky and has been active with forest watch activities.
Matt Peters lives in Pittsburgh, PA and has been a member of Heartwood since 1993. He is a co-founding member of the Allegheny Defense Project. Matt is an urban homesteader, growing garlic and other woodchuck-proof crops for a newly opened locally owned grocery store in one of America’s great Food Deserts. He is currently serving as Chair of the Hazelwood Urban Ag Team, working on local food security and economic sovereignty as well as habitat conservation and restoration in the neighborhood.
Tabitha Tripp is from Southern IL and has been diligently opposed to extreme energy extraction and environmental justice for frontline communities. She is a member of the Shawnee Sentinels and SAFE, and works to ban fracking in the state. She is an artist and dynamic activist..
Andy Mahler is Heartwood’s Founder and has been a forest activist and community organizer for more than twenty years. In addition to his work with Heartwood, he has worked on local and regional food issues, including helping start The Lost River Coop. He and his wife, Linda Lee, an orphaned possum rehabilitator, own a rustic and eclectic farm and lodge called the Lazy Black Bear surrounded by the Hoosier National Forest in the gently rolling, forested hills of southern Indiana.