Heather Hahn Sullivan, named new govt director of the Dunes Studying Heart by the group’s board this month, is keen to attach new generations to the wonders of nature.
“I grew up within the Dunes however there are such a lot of native children have by no means been to Lake Michigan or hiked a path in Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park,” Hahn Sullivan mentioned.
“As soon as they’ve that have with Dunes Studying Heart, they be taught to care concerning the surroundings.”
Her predecessor, Geof Benson, introduced his intent to retire earlier this 12 months and can stay with the group with the title of govt director emeritus to help in the course of the transition by means of February 2023.
“February 2023 will mark my 10 years serving as govt director right here and I’m proud how far we now have expanded our outreach,” mentioned Benson, who lives in Beverly Shores.
“Whether or not it’s youth visiting for a day or an in a single day or weeklong program, and even participation in our hybrid and digital programming, we’re making an influence. I’m pleased with how shortly we tailored to proceed to serve the wants of the neighborhood in the course of the pandemic.”
Hahn Sullivan, who lives in Valparaiso together with her husband and their two youngsters, first got here to Dunes Studying Heart in 1999 as a pupil with Valparaiso Excessive College, and later joined the training staff as an intern in 2004. After school, she labored fundraising and in administrative roles at different organizations earlier than returning to Dunes Studying Heart as growth and advertising and marketing director in 2018.
A graduate of Valparaiso Excessive College, she graduated from Hope School in Holland, Michigan, in 2004 together with her educating diploma and a double main in French and Geology in 2004. She earned her MBA from Drexel College in Philadelphia in 2014.
As an training companion of Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, Dunes Studying Heart delivers environmental education schemes with a concentrate on the ecology and historical past of the Indiana Dunes area serving greater than 165,000 college students from the varied communities and backgrounds alongside the south shore of Lake Michigan for the reason that middle launched in 1998.
“With vital consideration given to the abilities, expertise and experience wanted to efficiently information Dunes Studying Heart, the board is assured that below Heather’s management, the group will proceed to flourish,” mentioned Matthew J. Benus, Dunes Studying Heart board president.
“Because of Geof’s imaginative and prescient and steering during the last decade, Dunes Studying Heart’s capability and influence have grown considerably. Heather’s background in environmental nonprofits in addition to her expertise with the group’s companions and funders during the last 4 years make her uniquely certified for the function of govt director.”
In recent times, Benson teamed with Hahn Sullivan working with the Nationwide Park Basis and a community of 18 nonprofit companions of the Nationwide Park Service from throughout the nation to advertise the collective influence of Facilities for In a single day Out of doors Studying.
“Geof’s concentrate on lengthy vary infrastructure enhancements will proceed as we pursue new alternatives to encourage the stewards of tomorrow and look ahead to celebrating our twenty fifth anniversary subsequent 12 months,” mentioned Hahn Sullivan, who shall be tasked to supervise the event and implementation of a brand new strategic plan.
“Dunes Studying Heart has developed over time. It has grown and educating strategies have modified, however nonetheless teaches children concerning the native ecology and historical past of the area. Bringing the applications to colleges within the tri-county area has been very profitable and helped us to succeed in many extra college students every year.”
Phil Potempa is a contract reporter for the Submit-Tribune.