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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Becca Hines

Animal Caregiver

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Michelle Pruitt

Sanctuary Manager/Co-Founder

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Westley Penland

Animal Caregiver

Becca Hines

Position: Animal Caregiver

My undergraduate degree is in Anthropology, especially the study of human and non-human primate relatedness. I’ve always been interested in what unites humans and animals. I spent 8 years working with chimpanzees previously used in medical testing, and while I’ve been aware of the injustices involved in labs, the cruelty that happens with farmed animals is vast and needs more voices.

I started working with rescued farm animals in 2015 at a sanctuary in the PNW and found where my heart truly belongs; providing life-long care for animals often regarded as food and showing humans how easy a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle can be. I met the love of my life, a handsome steer named Norman (picture below) who changed my life, and from that moment I promised him I would fight for him and his friends.

I’m extremely honored and excited to join the team at PEAK, where the animals here are truly living their best life and the mission of the organization is shared with everyone who visits whether in person or online. Each individual here is treated as just that, an individual, and that in itself is important and beautiful. I look forward to getting to know all beings here and helping PEAK grow in any way I can!

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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Kristy Todd

Volunteer Coordinator

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Brent Lentilburger

Outreach Team Coordinator / Photographer

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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

Kristy Todd

Position: 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.

Brent Lentilburger

Position: Outreach Team Coordinator / Photographer

Brent began volunteering at Uplands PEAK in 2018, shortly after it made a new home near him in Freedom, Indiana.  He has had a successful career in educational technology, working in public education for twenty years. He’s also active in the art community, with much of his contribution in the form of music and audio/visual recording and production. He’s curious and has a deep appreciation for the natural world, both here on Earth and beyond.  He’s often out observing nature, spending time with animals and gazing at the sky.  After first hearing the word “vegan” nearly a decade ago, he immediately embraced the lifestyle and committed to making positive change in the world.  He grew up on a farm and has found himself more and more drawn to that lifestyle again.  Volunteering at Uplands PEAK has helped him reconnect with those roots and has made it clear that Brent will be fully embracing that path moving forward.

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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Allison Hess

President

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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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Sarah Hartley

Director

Allison Hess

Position: President

Allison joined the Uplands PEAK board of directors in 2018. As a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator through the Main Street Vegan Academy in New York City, Allison works with clients and speaks to groups about vegan living. She also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition through T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies, mentors with Challenge 22 and Vegan Outreach, and created Vegan for Everything on Facebook, a community of like-minded people who care about animal rights, environmental protection, and healthy living.

A long-time advocate for animals and the environment, Allison’s advocacy has ranged from leading letter writing campaigns while growing up, serving as president of the Michigan Animal Rights Society in college, volunteering with numerous rescue organizations, and co-founding Middle Way PAWSS, a program with a mission to provide safety for survivors of domestic violence and their animal companions. She serves on the board of Pets Alive, a nonprofit dedicated to ending pet overpopulation in south-central Indiana, as well as Vegan Interactions, an international organization based in the U.K., working to promote effective communication based on science.

Allison began her post-college professional years in veterinary medicine, as a technician with a focus on feline medicine. One of her favorite summers was spent working on a forestry research project for Purdue University, getting paid to listen to bird songs. Allison has spent the majority of her career in education and nonprofit leadership in Oregon and Indiana.

Originally from Cincinnati, Allison has been a Hoosier for 20 years. She currently lives with numerous Bloomington shelter alums: Luna (a golden retriever/Australian shepherd mix) and six ridiculous cats (Henry, Fern, Darwin, Simon Greggie, Hazel and Watson). Allison’s life got 1000 percent better when she began caring for three hens rescued from a factory farm in Colorado at the beginning of 2019:  Beatrice the Great, Opal and Rosebud. Since that time, Jane and Harriet (survivors of Kaporos) have joined the flock.

Allison earned her Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior from the University of Michigan, and a Master’s degree in Education 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.

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.

Sarah Hartley

Position: Director

Sarah joined the Uplands PEAK board in 2020. She has spent her career working in public safety for various police departments and has settled into the role of Dispatch Manager for the IU Health Police Department. She enjoys her volunteer work as much as professional work and also serves as a vegan mentor for PETA and Catskill.

Sarah became vegetarian ten years ago after reevaluating food choices when she contracted Lyme Disease from a Lonestar Tick as well as a red-meat allergy known as alpha-gal sydrome. Re-evaluating food choices again around 5 years ago led her to the conclusion that veganism suited her moral and dietary needs and has been vegan ever since. Since becoming vegan she has enjoyed blogging, mentoring, and social media outreach about how rewarding it is to be vegan.

Sarah is a lifelong Hoosier residing in a lake town in Brown County, Indiana. She is a mom to twin 5-year-olds, Hayden and Hartley, who enjoy exploring the outdoors together. Sarah also enjoys reading, writing, cooking, thrifting, and seeking justice for both humankind and animalkind. Sarah earned her Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from Indiana University and hopes to further her education in the future to help give back to animals in a professional setting.

 

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