New leader taking the helm at Indiana's largest environmental organization

Indiana's largest environmental policy organization has a new leader at its helm. The Hoosier Environmental Council has named Sam Carpenter as its new executive director.

Carpenter was the former executive director of the nonprofit Global Gifts, an Indiana-based fair-trade retail outlet. He is taking over for Jesse Kharbanda, who led the organization for more than 14 years before stepping down in the spring.

The Council advocates, both within communities and at the Statehouse, for public health, economic well-being and the preservation of nature. It works on topics including renewable energy, coal ash pollution and wetlands restoration.

“Environmental issues are issues of our collective society,” Carpenter said in a statement announcing his appointment. “That’s why HEC is so important: They rally and provide direction for those folks who want to make a difference and affect policy that creates a better Indiana. When I thought about what organization would allow me to have the greatest impact for future generations, the answer was Hoosier Environmental Council.”

The HEC board selected Carpenter after a nationwide search by Kittleman & Associates, LLC. He was introduced during the organization's annual Greening the Statehouse event Oct. 15.

Carpenter's more than 25 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations brought him to the forefront — that includes skills in leadership, strategic planning, business development, fundraising and marketing, according to HEC board president Tom Barrett.

"Most importantly," Barrett said in the statement, "Sam brings to HEC a passion for the environment and HEC's mission.”

Saying goodbye: Executive director Jesse Kharbanda steps down from Hoosier Environmental Council

Carpenter has long been an active advocate for environmental issues, getting involved as a citizen-volunteer in Indianapolis. His advocacy has included meeting with legislators, speaking at rallies and taking part in events related transportation, coal and renewable energy.

In his 17 years leading Global Gifts, the sales of sustainable goods grew from $196,000 to over $1.8 million and the number of staff went from one to 25 employees. Carpenter, a Kentucky native, also was named one of the city's "Forty under 40" by the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2010.

At HEC, he will lead an Indianapolis-based staff of 15 full- and part-time employees working on climate issues, public health, air and water policy, forests and wildlife and environmental justice.

“As a trusted source of information, the HEC staff earns a lot of respect for their level of knowledge and understanding of environmental policy,” Carpenter said in the statement. “There is a whole segment of Hoosiers who are concerned about their environment but may not have actively taken up the cause. I would like to help shape and spread the message that shapes opinion so more people can learn about the issues and take actions toward progress.”

He begins part-time work at HEC this week, and moves to full-time Dec. 1.

Call IndyStar reporter Sarah Bowman at 317-444-6129 or email at sarah.bowman@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @IndyStarSarah. Connect with IndyStar’s environmental reporters: Join The Scrub on Facebook.

IndyStar's environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: New leader takes the helm at Hoosier Environmental Council