Meet our Board of Directors who have a variety of experience, skills, and experience in climate action.

Rob Hogg

Pronouns: He, Him, His
Board President


Rob Hogg is a retired state legislator and lawyer living in Cedar Rapids. A native of Iowa City, he graduated from City High School in Iowa City, the University of Iowa (B.A. in history), and the University of Minnesota (M.A. in public affairs and J.D. in law). He and his wife, Kate, are active members of Christ Episcopal Church in Cedar Rapids.

Rob has worked on faith-based climate advocacy for nearly 25 years, starting as global warming project coordinator for Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa in 1999-2000. He previously served on the board of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light from 2007 to 2010. He is currently co-chair of the national Citizens Climate Lobby Episcopal Action Team and served in 2021 as a member of the delegation to the world climate negotiations (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, on behalf of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry.

In 2013, Rob published a book, “America’s Climate Century: What Climate Change Means for America in the 21st Century and What Americans Can Do About It.”

John Stender-Custer

Pronouns: He, Him, His
Board Vice President


John is a 7th generation Iowan who lives with his husband and twins in Des Moines. He grew up on his family farm in Western Iowa and often returns to Cass County where they maintain a second home. He attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport where he received a B. A. in Theology and History. After college he spent an Americorps volunteer year with the Marist Brothers in Lawrence, Massachusetts before studying Law at Western Michigan University in Lansing.

He spent his professional career in higher education where he served in various capacities. From Director of Service Learning at St. Ambrose University to Associate Professor and Chair of the Social and Criminal Justice program at Ashford University in Clinton. John has maintained his commitment to teaching his students the value of civic engagement and social justice. He is now a stay-at-home father and hopes to instill those same values in his own children.

The Stender-Custers are members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Des Moines.

Rod Stevens

Pronouns: He, Him, His


Rod is a retired architect, certified facility manager, and LEED AP (accredited professional). He formed Knowledge Consulting, a sustainability, architecture, and facility management consulting firm in 2014 after retiring from a 40-year career at DuPont Pioneer where Rod provided design, code compliance, accessibility, facility information and technology, sustainability, and project management consulting for the company.

Rod is a long time involved member of Immanuel United Methodist Church in Des Moines. His participation at an Iowa IPL Cool Congregations workshop in 2008 helped trigger the formation of Immanuel’s Green Team, which he has been an active participant in ever since. Rod has led a number of seminars and classes on sustainability-related topics both at the church and elsewhere and continues to be an advocate for sustainable design and care of creation.

Elizabeth Pudenz

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Board Secretary


Elizabeth (Beth) Pudenz was raised in Des Moines, IA. She obtained a BA in International Studies from DePaul University, a JD from John Marshall University and an LLM in Health Law from Loyola University. She began her career in 2007 as an attorney in Chicago, Illinois where she represented injured victims in medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, premises liability, construction liability and trucking/automobile accident cases. After starting a family, Ms. Pudenz returned to her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa to join the Spellman Law Firm, LLP where she continues to practice law as a litigation attorney in personal injury and worker’s compensation cases on behalf of her clients. She is a current board member for the Iowa Association for Justice which is an organization devoted to safeguard justice and individual rights for the public good. She is also passionate about social justice, including climate change awareness, climate change solutions and advocacy.

Beth was raised Catholic and is a parishioner at St. Augustin Catholic Church in Des Moines. She enjoys traveling, cooking, running and spending time with her husband Jay and three children.

Rev. Dr. Belinda Creighton-Smith

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers


Belinda Creighton-Smith is the pastor of Faith Temple Baptist Church in Waterloo and an adjunct instructor in the social work department at the University of Northern Iowa. She attended Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where she received her Master of Divinity. In 2019 she earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Northern Iowa and wrote her dissertation on Examining Linkages between Institutional Racism, Internalized Racial Oppression and Self-Efficacy in African American Youth.

Sister Ruth E. Westmoreland

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers


A native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Sister Ruth E. Westmoreland entered the Sisters of St. Francis in 1963. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, and a Master of Education degree from Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas. She also holds a permanent professional teaching certificate in Iowa.

Sister Ruth E. served as Canonical Councilor of the congregation from 2012 to 2016. Previously, she served as director of Café on Vine in Davenport, Iowa. Other ministries include serving as a teacher; Academic Dean and Vice President of Mount St. Clare College in Clinton, Iowa; Special Assistant for Development for Boysville and the Ennis Center for Children in Michigan; and in childcare work, parish social ministry, and shelter work at Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. She currently servers as Councilor on the Leadership Team of the Clinton Franciscans.

C.J. Petersen

Pronouns: He, Him, His


Following his candidacy for the Iowa state senate in 2020, C.J. worked to build civic engagement among rural Iowans, including taking part in a rural queer working group to improve political engagement for queer people who live in rural spaces. He has worked in the Iowa legislature for Rep. Sami Scheetz and continues to work as a public servant in the office of Iowa’s State Auditor.

Born and raised in southwest Iowa, C.J. grew up using American Sign Language at home and is hard of hearing. Living at the intersection of the LGBTQ+ and disability communities, C.J. strives for inclusion and acceptance for all who want to participate in the political process.

A current student at the University of Iowa majoring in political science, C.J. believes there’s nothing wrong with constant growth and education. He and his husband live on a small farm in rural Audubon County, home of Albert the Bull, where they are active in their community. They are members of the Iowa Farmers’ Union and attend St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Harlan. C.J. is passionate about working toward climate solutions as part of a robust rural economic development agenda.

C.J. believes the best way to achieve results when working with others is to remember that nobody’s always right and that a broken clock is right twice a day.

Claira Miller

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers


Claira Miller has been active in Iowa Interfaith Power & Light since becoming a Called To Climate Action student in 2021. Originally from Colo, she is a student at Iowa State University in her final year majoring in animal science and minoring in general business. What brought her to the program was her passion for agriculture with the drive to create a more sustainable future. The next summer, Iowa IPL brought Claira Miller to become our first Faith Farms & Climate fellow assisting in the implementation of summer programming and traveling with the staff.

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