Co-Founders

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Michelle Pruitt

Sanctuary Manager/Co-Founder

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Mark Pruitt

Vice President/Co-Founder

Michelle Pruitt

Position: Sanctuary Manager/Co-Founder

Michelle’s professional background includes information technology recruiting, workshop facilitation and coaching in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. She then operated her own “companion animal sitting” business while laying the ground work for the Sanctuary. Additionally, she is a Certified Healthy Congregations Facilitator and is in her second year of a leadership immersion program.  It has always been her hearts desire to something “meaningful” outside of corporate america, to live simply and promote connection.

While, Michelle has always felt a deep connection and respect for animals, she wasn’t aware of the consequences of her food choices. She was a vegetarian for about 6.5 years but still didn’t have the knowledge of how animals are treated for food products. Finally, upon reading “Farm Sanctuary” by Gene Baur she learned the horrors of how animals are bred, abused, and slaughtered for food products, and immediately went vegan. She became involved with a local vegan organization and participated in protests and facilitating education workshops. Meanwhile, she tried to find a sanctuary close enough to volunteer, as she longed to be part of the healing process for animals, but didn’t find one anywhere near her.  It was then that the seeds for the Sanctuary were really planted.

Michelle and Mark purchased the property for the Sanctuary in 2012, and began the process of creating a registered non-profit. Michelle completed an extensive immersion of animal care and shelter management at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY to prepare for running her own sanctuary. Additionally, she has visited other sanctuaries and conducted substantial research on farm animal care and advocacy.

For Michelle, it has been amazing to watch this beautiful place emerge from an “idea” and to see the community that has formed. For her, it is an honor to have the opportunity to rescue and truly know farmed animals as the individuals they are.

Michelle resides on the property with her husband and co-founder Mark and their six companion animals! She is currently PEAK’s Sanctuary Manager.

Michelle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications from Indiana University.

Mark Pruitt

Position: Vice President/Co-Founder

Mark was born in Henderson, KY and has spent most of his life in Kentucky with exception of eight years in NYC. He has traveled extensively in the United States and enjoyed a wide range of adventures from working in Alaska to hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail. Mark became vegan in 2011 and was initially exposed to veganism by his wife, but was also greatly influenced by a Gary Yourofsky video. Mark states, “It had always been my dream to create and work with a retreat center of sorts, as a career change. Becoming vegan allowed me to combine desire with a cause I was passionate about. It is also really exciting to be on the cutting edge of a revolution that can literally transform the world for the better, simply by making a food choice.”

Mark has always loved and cared for animals and shared his life for a long time with his beloved companion, Zeke, a black lab. Now, he shares his home with two dogs and four cats.

Mark brings a variety of life experiences to his management of Uplands PEAK. His career of twenty-four years was in the mental health field. His experience includes working as a therapist, emergency room social worker, a manager of various clinics, and director of Behavioral Health Services at Clark Memorial Hospital in southern Indiana. Although he did not follow directly in their shoes, he comes from a long line of builders, tinkerers, and electricians.

Mark earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Hunter School of Social Work.

 

Staff

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Michelle Pruitt

Sanctuary Manager/Co-Founder

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Westley Penland

Animal Caregiver

Michelle Pruitt

Position: Sanctuary Manager/Co-Founder

Michelle’s professional background includes information technology recruiting, workshop facilitation and coaching in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. She then operated her own “companion animal sitting” business while laying the ground work for the Sanctuary. Additionally, she is a Certified Healthy Congregations Facilitator and is in her second year of a leadership immersion program.  It has always been her hearts desire to something “meaningful” outside of corporate america, to live simply and promote connection.

While, Michelle has always felt a deep connection and respect for animals, she wasn’t aware of the consequences of her food choices. She was a vegetarian for about 6.5 years but still didn’t have the knowledge of how animals are treated for food products. Finally, upon reading “Farm Sanctuary” by Gene Baur she learned the horrors of how animals are bred, abused, and slaughtered for food products, and immediately went vegan. She became involved with a local vegan organization and participated in protests and facilitating education workshops. Meanwhile, she tried to find a sanctuary close enough to volunteer, as she longed to be part of the healing process for animals, but didn’t find one anywhere near her.  It was then that the seeds for the Sanctuary were really planted.

Michelle and Mark purchased the property for the Sanctuary in 2012, and began the process of creating a registered non-profit. Michelle completed an extensive immersion of animal care and shelter management at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY to prepare for running her own sanctuary. Additionally, she has visited other sanctuaries and conducted substantial research on farm animal care and advocacy.

For Michelle, it has been amazing to watch this beautiful place emerge from an “idea” and to see the community that has formed. For her, it is an honor to have the opportunity to rescue and truly know farmed animals as the individuals they are.

Michelle resides on the property with her husband and co-founder Mark and their six companion animals! She is currently PEAK’s Sanctuary Manager.

Michelle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications from Indiana University.

Westley Penland

Position: Animal Caregiver

Westley and his partner Amber became monthly sponsors of Lily (turkey) shortly after she was rescued in early 2019. They quickly became regular volunteers. Wes has been an “all in” and loved member of our community ever since! He left his career as a chef to align his career with his ethics too. As he became more involved with PEAK, he knew this was where he was meant to be and felt most at home. We are so grateful to have him on board and to keep continuity for our residents. He has been an asset in moving PEAK’s mission forward.

 

Volunteers

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Kita

Greeter

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Abe

Greeter

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Maggie

Security

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Petey

Security

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Grace

Security

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Yuki

Security

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Paul

Security

Kita

Position: Greeter

Kita was rescued by a local organization, as one of the volunteers was visiting a local pet store, and her people were giving her away because she had worms! Michelle saw Kita’s photo on the internet and thought she looked like a baby Sally! Kita came to live at the Sanctuary in December 2014. She loves all beings! She plays with the goats, licks Grace’s ears, and chills with the pigs.

Birthday: August 2014
Rescued: December 2014
Favorite Treat: Peanut Butter

Abe

Position: Greeter

Abe was adopted in December of 2017 from a local shelter! Our old man immediately relaxed into sanctuary life, as if he’s lived here the whole time. He loves claiming all the furniture as his own, along with the pillows too. Needless to say, he cracks us up daily and we love him dearly.

Birthday: December 2011
Rescued: December 2017
Favorite Treat: Bananas

Maggie

Position: Security

Mark and Michelle adopted Maggie in August 2007 from a rescue organization after seeing her photo on the internet. She was picked up as a stray and fostered for several months. Her foster Mom said when it was time for Maggie to go to Pet Smart for “adoption day,” Maggie would act sick. Maggie is both an indoor and outdoor cat. If she is stuck inside too long she becomes a little fussy.

Birthday: May 2007
Rescued: August 2007
Favorite Treat: Wet Food

Petey

Position: Security

Petey was Mark and Michelle’s first adopted cat! The day they met him, he was peeking his head out of a covered litter box, and all his brother and sisters were out playing. Petey was quite the shy kitten. He was also born without one of his paws. Moving to the Sanctuary has really brought out his social self!

Birthday: August 2003
Rescued: October 2003
Favorite Treat: Potato Chips

Grace

Position: Security

Grace found us in July 2013. Mark and Michelle hadn’t moved to the property yet and were just visiting for the weekend. Grace was crying under one of the large pine trees near the barn. They couldn’t see her, so they crawled under the tree to find her. She was tiny and scared — only 1.5 lbs and maybe 5 weeks old. Her bottom lip was injured and needed stitches. She was covered with fleas and ticks. Mark and Michelle took her to the vet immediately and had her treated. Grace has become a true farm cat! She loves to go on hikes with the family and does frequent barn checks. She has become quite the pal with Kita (the dog).

Birthday: June 2013
Rescued: July 2013
Favorite Treat:

Yuki

Position: Security

One of our neighbors found Yuki scared and alone under her deck, and being as she has a lot of dogs she knew he wouldn’t be safe with her. So she brought him over to PEAK and asked for help. We took him in with the intention of finding him a home, but his timing for bringing us joy during a difficult summer of work overload/fatigue and losing our dear, sweet Jelly made him family immediately.

Birthday: June 2017
Rescued: July 2017
Favorite Treat: Wet Food

Paul

Position: Security

Paul claimed PEAK as his home in the winter of 2019. When he first started to visit he was very vocal and was often seen walking down the driveway from the road toward the sanctuary. Paul disappeared for a while and then returned in the spring! At this point, we took him to be neutered and given dewormer and necessary shots. Paul hasn’t left since then! He is adjusting well to life at PEAK where he can relax, eat plenty of food, and get lots of attention. He loves to follow us around and try to help with whatever projects we work on. Other than that, he can usually be found curled up sleeping peacefully. He is extremely playful and curious and loves to try to play with all residents, volunteers, and staff at PEAK.

Birthday: March 2018
Rescued: April 2019
Favorite Treat: Wet Food

 

Board

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Kristy Todd

President/Volunteer Coordinator

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Mark Pruitt

Vice President/Co-Founder

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Robert Hoyt

Secretary

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Mindy Marshall

Treasurer

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Maddie Tong

Director

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Sara McGoun

Director

Kristy Todd

Position: President/Volunteer Coordinator

Kristy has been a supporter of PEAK since 2016. After becoming a new vegan that year, she searched for a farmed animal sanctuary whose mission she deeply connected with. It was love at first sight when she found PEAK!  Kristy and her family recently relocated to Bloomington to be a part of the PEAK community!  She resides here with her spouse, Michael, and son, Will, along with Molly the dog and Lovin the cat.  Kristy is grateful to Will, who was the first person in her life to introduce the idea that animals are friends, not food.  Kristy and Will attended a Ringling Brothers protest when he was 6 years old.  This action ignited Kristy’s passion to elevate the voices of animals.  From there, she became a dedicated grassroots animal rights activist in her home of Chicago.  She learned so much from this movement and her fellow activists, including being advocates and allies for all marginalized groups.  “We all have one common vision, liberation and compassion!”

The role of Volunteer Coordinator allows Kristy the opportunity to use her talents to grow the volunteer community at PEAK! If you ask her what she’s most excited about, she’ll tell you it’s the humans around her making a difference in the lives of her friends like Issac, Star, Freeda, and Pip. Kristy sees the world awakening, recognizing animals as beautiful individuals who deserve love and freedom.  “Seeing people’s hearts open to the work at PEAK is so fulfilling!  Helping visitors and volunteers feel welcomed and included in this community inspires me! We are ALL interconnected, and contributing as a volunteer at PEAK is a wonderful way to foster love and compassion!”

Kristy has been the Volunteer Coordinator at Uplands PEAK since August 2019.  She has been a healthcare professional for 20 years, and is thrilled to use her knowledge to educate others about the benefits of a lifestyle based on plants (and compassion)!  Kristy earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from Purdue University, and a Master’s Degree in Nursing Education (MSN) from Benedictine University.

Learn more about volunteering at PEAK! Also, Kristy is happy to connect directly with you about our Volunteer Program. Please email her at volunteer@uplandspeak.org.

Mark Pruitt

Position: Vice President/Co-Founder

Mark was born in Henderson, KY and has spent most of his life in Kentucky with exception of eight years in NYC. He has traveled extensively in the United States and enjoyed a wide range of adventures from working in Alaska to hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail. Mark became vegan in 2011 and was initially exposed to veganism by his wife, but was also greatly influenced by a Gary Yourofsky video. Mark states, “It had always been my dream to create and work with a retreat center of sorts, as a career change. Becoming vegan allowed me to combine desire with a cause I was passionate about. It is also really exciting to be on the cutting edge of a revolution that can literally transform the world for the better, simply by making a food choice.”

Mark has always loved and cared for animals and shared his life for a long time with his beloved companion, Zeke, a black lab. Now, he shares his home with two dogs and four cats.

Mark brings a variety of life experiences to his management of Uplands PEAK. His career of twenty-four years was in the mental health field. His experience includes working as a therapist, emergency room social worker, a manager of various clinics, and director of Behavioral Health Services at Clark Memorial Hospital in southern Indiana. Although he did not follow directly in their shoes, he comes from a long line of builders, tinkerers, and electricians.

Mark earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Hunter School of Social Work.

Robert Hoyt

Position: Secretary

Rob joined the Uplands PEAK board in 2019.  He has spent the majority of his professional career working for companies and brands that promote environmental and social justice.  Currently, Rob is a sales manager for Seventh Generation – the leading brand of natural home and personal care products.  In this role – he partners with national retailers to make natural products more available and easier to find for shoppers.

Rob adopted a vegetarian diet ten years ago after meeting his then-vegetarian wife, Nicole, in Vermont.  In 2016, he became a vegan after reading Animal Liberation by Peter Singer and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  He and his wife now spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing vegan meals for their friends and family.

Rob recently moved to Bloomington with his wife and daughter – Violet and dog – Bagel.  Prior to that, Robert spent his entire life in New England – most recently nine years in Burlington, VT.  No matter the location, Rob enjoys spending time outdoors – especially hiking and biking.  He has also volunteered with several environmental organizations throughout the country.

Rob earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut, and an MBA from Boston University.

Mindy Marshall

Position: Treasurer

Mindy joined the Uplands PEAK board in 2019.  Her passion for serving animals began in 1987 when a friend loaned her the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.  She immediately gave up meat and vowed to do everything she could to help animals.  She went on to earn a BA from IUPUI, majoring in Philosophy with a focus on morality and ethics.

Mindy began volunteering with the Humane Society of the United States in 2003.  She currently serves in the role of district leader where she is responsible for assisting with various animal-related initiatives, from Indiana’s Humane Lobby Day, to animal rescue, to federal lobbying for her legislative district.  She is also involved with companion animal rescue transport and helps with Indy VegFest activities whenever possible.

Mindy serves as CAO for an Indianapolis-based non-profit, where she has worked for over 25 years.

Mindy lives with her husband, Ken, 2 dogs (Twirly and Tim) , 2 cats (Monkey and Floydie), and 3 [outdoor] fish in the Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis.  In addition to spending time with her husband and pets, sampling vegan offerings at Indy restaurants, and working with animals, she enjoys writing, drawing, and traveling.  Her favorite place besides PEAK is the South of France.

Maddie Tong

Position: Director

Maddie proudly joined the Uplands PEAK board in 2021.

Her animal rights journey began in 2013 when she had a paradigm-shifting experience. While driving through Louisville’s “Butchertown” neighborhood, she heard the sound of screaming. Believing that a person was in danger, Maddie pulled over and tried to help. When an unconcerned bystander told her it was “just pigs, squealing” at the JBS Swift & Company pork processing plant, she had a moment of clarity. Suddenly realizing the hypocrisy and speciesism inherent in the consumption of animal products, Maddie became vegetarian instantaneously. In 2016, she adopted a fully vegan lifestyle and hasn’t looked back since.

Maddie graduated from the University of Louisville with dual degrees in Philosophy and English. She spent seven years in nonprofit before moving to the advertising world. By day, she writes for a Louisville-based agency, and by night she is a frequent freelancer and consultant for area nonprofits.

Maddie lives in Louisville with her husband John, her two rescue mutts Athena and Ruby, and her two rescue cats Kaiju and Jaeger. When she’s not working, she’s taking walks, drinking coffee, watching movies with her family, and working on her 1930’s bungalow.

Sara McGoun

Position: Director

Sara joined the Uplands PEAK board in 2021. She grew up in the midwest and became vegan after realizing how it perfectly aligned her values surrounding animals, health, and the environment. She credits a farm sanctuary for helping her connect the dots.

Sara worked as an economic and community development lobbyist focusing on public transit and placemaking before transitioning her career to animal activism. She served as the campaigns manager with Mercy For Animals and currently works at Vegan Outreach as the director of development.

She graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in public affairs and is a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator from the Main Street Vegan Academy.

She’s lived in Ohio, Colorado, and Georgia and now resides back home again in Indiana. Sara enjoys live music, comedy, being on the water, and spending time with her dog, Rocky.

 

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