New Pioneers Announces Leadership Transition

In an exciting transition for New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future, Executive Director Whitney Wurzel has made the decision to pass the torch after four remarkable years of leadership. Whitney’s dedication and vision have propelled New Pioneers' mission to new heights, leaving an indelible mark on the promotion of sustainability in rural communities.

Our ongoing work will now be guided by Interim Executive Director Julia Gerwe. Julia is an extraordinary force in the field, renowned for her dynamic community-building skills, passion for environmental education, and unwavering commitment to advancing sustainability.

Julia will work closely with New Pioneers’ Board of Directors to finalize our community-based strategic plan, search for a standing director, and move various partnerships and programs forward. Her appointment heralds an exciting new chapter for New Pioneers.

"I am honored to lead New Pioneers as the organization continues its crucial work to support our communities in achieving greater sustainability," Julia says. "The people that drive New Pioneers - our staff and board, members, and generous funders and partners - hold a special place in my heart and in our community. I am excited to contribute to this collective impact.”

Most recently, Julia worked as Member Coordinator with the Environmental Education Leadership (EEL) Corps program, where she organized and supported AmeriCorps members serving various nonprofit organizations throughout Kentucky.

Prior to that, Julia served as an AmeriCorps member herself with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, where she collaborated with our organization to enhance educational programs and forge partnerships. These local ties kept her “rooted” in the work of New Pioneers and surrounding communities, ultimately leading to her involvement as a former New Pioneers board member.

We express gratitude to Whitney for her time, dedication, and passion in advancing the mission and work of New Pioneers. Many New Pioneers members, partners, supporters, and friends have fond memories of and with Whitney, and we are grateful for her many gifts and talents shared so freely in her work.

Whitney has indeed made an incredible impact during her tenure with New Pioneers, including the following highlights:

  • Expanding the programmatic and communal reach of New Pioneers: Whitney initiated many youth engagement programs such as summer environmental education programming, schoolyard learning, and the Nelson County Stream Team. New Pioneers also hosted noteworthy public programs such as the Earth Day Cleanup Challenge, Arbor Day Tree Giveaway, Space Night, Empty Bowl Supper, and Springfield Green Festival.
  • Elevating the voice and presence of New Pioneers: Our critical organizational work under Whitney’s leadership granted New Pioneers the “2022 Outstanding Community Partner Award for Excellence in Environmental Education” from the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education. Whitney also spearheaded the launch of a new website and logo, allowing us to better engage with our audiences and communities.
  • Engaging in critical work and advocacy: Whitney led the organization in passionately advocating for sustainability issues, including fair net-metering policies, the transition to renewable energy, and opposing the LG&E pipeline through Bernheim Forest.

"It has been an incredible journey leading New Pioneers and working with our dedicated staff, board and members as we envision a more sustainable future in our region and beyond,” Whitney says. “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together."

As New Pioneers approaches this transition, our commitment to our mission, membership, and local communities will continue to thrive. We are excited to launch new partnerships and programs this year, and we believe that this transition will be an invigorating and pivotal opportunity to lead New Pioneers toward a more active and strong future for many years to come.

Together, we will continue our rich legacy of educating, demonstrating, and advocating for sustainable living in our rural communities. As our leadership changes hands, our commitment to creating a more sustainable future for our region and beyond remains a steady priority guiding our work.

As we bridge this transition between Whitney and Julia, we invite you to a “Goodbyes & Greetings” happy hour at Mordecai’s restaurant, located at 105 W Main St, Springfield, KY, on Friday, July 21 from 5-7 p.m. This will be an opportunity to thank Whitney for her time with New Pioneers and welcome Julia as Interim Executive Director, complete with complimentary light refreshments.

We look forward to a rich and sustainable future alongside you!

Thanks to our Sponsors

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