2013 SUSTAINABLE WORKS! Recipients

The Sustainable Works! Awards

Created by Gaining Ground to recognize individuals and organizations that are making progress on issues of sustainability in health, food, energy, housing, farming, and innovation in Mississippi, these individuals are engaged in work that furthers the aim of Gaining Ground to build a Sustainable Mississippi through education, outreach, and action.


Jim Ewing -Organic gardener, urban farmer and mind/body/spirit columnist for the Jackson Free Press
He serves on the boards of several nonprofits, advising on internal policies, strategic planning, outreach and growth and is a national board of directors member of Certified Naturally Grown, president of the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, a member of the executive committee and board member of Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi, and a member of the board of directors of the Mississippi Urban Forest Council. Jim is the former vice president of Rainbow Whole Foods Co-Op, the state’s oldest organic cooperative grocery, and has served in executive volunteer positions with the state’s largest conservation organizations MS Ducks Unlimited and MS Wildlife Federation.

Anne and Cliff Burgess have built two sustainable homes in south Mississippi and installed solar panels in their Ellisville house. The couple built the first completely sustainable home in the Pine Belt using solar, geothermal, and wind energy. Each of them has an electric car. Cliff and Anne frequently lecture about climate change, political action, and sustainable practices. They provide a model for people to see and they generously lead people through their home to demonstrate how sustainability is applied. Anne and Cliff have been leaders in establishing the Pine Belt Chapter of Gaining Ground and serve on the steering committee.

Judy Belue- Founding member of Delta Fresh Foods Initiative
Judy helps coordinate a unique collaborative of participants from all walks of life. “...sustainable food growers, consumers, vocational teachers, health and agricultural educators, food retailers, community based organizations, congregational and community gardeners, healthy food advocates, and more coming together to fight for a better food system in The Delta,” said Judy Belue. Our goal is to help our fellow Mississippians access local, healthy food while rebuilding our local economy.”

Will and Carolyn Hegman - Owners of Mississippi Solar
Will and his wife Carolyn own and operate Mississippi Solar, LLC. They install solar and wind systems at homes, schools, and businesses in MS and surrounding states. In addition to promoting alternative energy in MS by attending conferences, trade shows, and various public venues, Will and Carolyn have donated thousands of dollars worth of solar equipment to schools, cities, and individuals to promote adoption of solar PV systems in MS.


Bill Lilly - Owner of Village Green Builders Inc.


Bill is one of the leaders in the field of sustainable construction and consulting in MS. He won the 2010 Sustainability Leadership Award/ University of Mississippi and was the 2010 Sustainability Leadership Award/ University of Mississippi and was the 3rd Place Winner of "Growing a Greener Mississippi." He is a featured speaker on sustainable housing and has most recently been featured in an independent film, “Billy Lilly Builds a Green House.”

Anne McCauley - Assistant Director of the University of Mississippi’s Campus Office of Sustainability


Ms. McCauley joined the Office of Campus Sustainability in October 2009 and works on efforts to move the Green Initiative forward. She has played the pivotal role of connecting University efforts with community efforts in the arena of sustainability. She also helped students pass a Green Fund Initiative on Campus in 2012.

Frank Taylor  - President of the Winston County Self Help Cooperative


The Winston County Self-Help Cooperative's "Saving Rural America Conference" is one of the strongest outreach efforts to small farmers in MS. Mr. Taylor has been a fearless leader of this group for over a decade and serves on state and national boards supporting small, minority farmers. He now has a radio show, and today, WCSHC’s membership consists of 56 vibrant members from three surrounding counties. Frank collaborates with the USDA and non-profit organizations to deliver relevant information on generating revenue for small farmers. His mission is to “Save Rural America.”

Sumesh Arora, Ph.D., Vice president of Innovate Mississippi and the director for Innovate Mississippi's Strategic Biomass Solutions program


Sumesh is a firm believer in the efficient use of energy, generated by both traditional and non-traditional means. In 2006, Sumesh was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to represent MS on the Governor’s Ethanol Coalition. In 2005, Sumesh was named as a Top 40 Under 40 business leader in MS by the Mississippi Business Journal. He has secured state and federal grants amounting to $1.1 million for renewable energy projects.  Sumesh has spoken at numerous national and regional conferences and has several journal publications.



Nancy Woodruff - A Mississippi native from Louisville who serves on the advisory board for GGSIM and the MS Food Policy Council 


At the local level she is active with the Winston County Self-Help Cooperative, especially its FoodCorps and farm to school programs.  Her expertise in holistic healthcare informs her passion for re-creating the high quality foods that are essential for deep healing.  She is also a co-owner of Southern Cultured, a Starkville-based maker of locally-marketed, probiotic-rich fermented foods.  Nancy believes deeply that human wellness is a potent driver for deep-rooted sustainability and a peaceful human presence on planet Earth.