Ph.D. Track: Climate Change in HHC’s Equity and Communities Research Cohort

Brenda Freije has a passion for developing new initiatives and helping communities and organizations solve complex challenges. Before joining the PhD program, Freije served for 25 years in leadership roles as a lawyer, nonprofit executive, pastor, and community builder. She began her career as a lawyer with Baker & Daniels (now Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath) in Indianapolis where she practiced law for eleven years before returning to school to study theology at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS), serve as a pastor in the United Methodist Church, and work with local nonprofit organizations. After eight years of community work, she returned to CTS to serve on the executive leadership team where she taught and served as Vice President and General Counsel. She now consults and provides legal counsel to nonprofits, is active on a variety of nonprofit boards, and coaches leaders in transition as they discern how they want to make a difference in the world.

Outside of work, Freije enjoys family time with her husband, Dick Freije, Jr. and five kids: two sons, two stepsons, and a daughter. She also enjoys worship leading, songwriting, playing tennis for fun, learning new things, great food, and practicing yoga.

In the IUPUI American Studies PhD program she has the opportunity to dive deeply into the complex problem of climate change. Health and Hospital Corporation is sponsoring Freije’s research, which is focused on the response of Indianapolis and its anchor institutions to the environmental health threats of climate change. Freije is particularly interested in how norms and values intersect with economics and policymaking in shaping the future of Indianapolis and Indiana as the city and state respond to a changing climate.