Green: The Heinz Awards Review - Summer 2008

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The Heinz Awards pay tribute to the memory of H. John Heinz III by celebrating those who embrace, as he did, the joyous American belief that individuals have both the power and responsibility to change the world for the better.

As a reminder of the virtues of hard work, determination, excellence and a broad vision for the future, the Heinz Family Foundation annually recognizes a special group of individuals for their outstanding contributions.

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teresa heinz

jeffrey r. lewis

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heinz awards review

With this first issue of Green Notes, the Heinz Awards Review introduces a periodic newsletter to provide current information and updates on the activities of our Heinz Award recipients regarding environmental issues.

Bernard Amadei
Bernard Amadei

With the mind of an engineer and the heart of a humanitarian, Dr. Bernard Amadei is transforming international villages that lack the most basic living infrastructures into communities where good health, education and survival can take place. Through Engineers Without Borders, a program he founded, teams of engineering students and professionals apply their training and imaginations to developing countries to solve problems that can change lives.

In this op-ed, which appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dr. Amadei details the impact his meaningful work is having on some of the world’s poorest regions. Dr. Amadei shared the 13th Heinz Award for the Environment.

Paul Anastas
Paul Anastas

Paul Anastas, 12th Environment Heinz Award, was honored recently by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. He was given its Leadership in Science Award for promoting the field of “Green Chemistry.” Dr. Anastas is the director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale University and he previously served as director of the Green Chemistry Institute in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Anastas focuses his research on the design of safer chemicals, bio-based polymers and developing new techniques of chemical synthesis that are less hazardous to the environment.

The Council of Scientific Society Presidents is made up of leaders in various scientific organizations.

James Hansen

James Hansen, internationally-known climate scientist, received a 29th Annual Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service. This prestigious award recognizes individuals who advance and enrich society through their life’s work.

Dr. Hansen, director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was recognized in the science category. He is an adjunct professor of earth sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The Common Wealth Awards of Distinguished Service were first presented in 1979 by the Common Wealth Trust, which honors the legacy of the late philanthropist Ralph Hayes.

Dr. Hansen has focused his studies on the Earth’s climate to better understand the human impact on global climate. He recently commemorated the 20th anniversary of his historic appearance before a Senate hearing on the topic of climate change. He stated in that seminal speech that he was “99 percent” certain that human activity was leading to a warmer climate, and urged legislation to halt it. His efforts ultimately led to the Kyoto Protocol. Senator John Heinz was an early student of the issues surrounding global warming and advocated on Dr. Hansen's behalf to his fellow senators and to the administration. Dr. Hansen's acceptance speech at the Heinz Awards ceremony elaborates on their relationship. At a recent House committee hearing, he laid out plans to cut emissions and stem the “global warming time bomb” ticking away.

Dr. Hansen is the recipient of the 7th Environment Heinz Award.

Lois Gibbs
Lois Gibbs

Newsweek magazine named Lois Gibbs to its list of the last century's top environmental leaders. Ms. Gibbs, co-recipient of the 5th Environment Heinz Award, empowered her community near Love Canal, New York, to clean a toxic waste dumping site that was established years before. The site was sickening residents, including her son. She continued her efforts by establishing the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes to provide the information and support needed to empower other communities to organize themselves to reduce and eliminate threats from toxic substances and other environmental ills. Ms. Gibbs was among 13 leaders cited by the news magazine.

Peggy Shepard
Peggy Shepard

Community activist Peggy Shepard was recently named recipient of the 2008 Jane Jacobs Medal from the Rockefeller Foundation. The group awarded her its Lifetime Leadership medal for her service on the forefront of the environmental justice movement and for pioneering a model of grassroots engagement that has been replicated by communities across the country.

Ms. Shepard co-founded West Harlem Environmental Action Inc. (WE ACT) in 1988, and serves as its executive director. She successfully organized residents in her Harlem neighborhood to combat a city sewage treatment plant that was emitting noxious fumes and gained reforms in that and other environmental concerns. The group’s work continues and has expanded to help communities throughout the nation wage similar battles and raise awareness. She will receive the award and a $100,000 gift at a ceremony in September.

These efforts also earned Ms. Shepard, 10th Environment Heinz Award, recognition by New York Gov. David Paterson. She was among a distinguished group of individuals to receive the 2008 New York State Women of Excellence Award. She was honored at a ceremony this spring in conjunction with Women’s History Month. The award recognizes extraordinary contributions to communities in a wide range of disciplines.

Mario Molina
Mario Molina

Mario Molina has joined a stellar panel of his peers who are studying the future of our planet. Dr. Molina, 9th Environment Heinz Award, is on the Grand Challenges for Engineering committee seated by the National Academy of Engineering. The group will study four broad realms of human concern – sustainability, health, vulnerability and joy of living – and identify specific challenges within those categories. The international engineering panel of experts will seek ways to put their knowledge into practice to meet these needs. Dr. Molina shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1995 and is in the chemistry and biochemistry department at the University of California, San Diego.

Geoffrey Canada

An aggressive new program has significantly reduced asthma attacks in children at the Harlem community center headed by Geoffrey Canada, 1st Human Condition Heinz Award. These attacks are often triggered by environmental factors. The Harlem Children’s Zone Asthma Initiative was introduced five years ago to reduce the instances of asthma attack among the 5,000 children living in the 60-block area. A disturbingly high 33 percent of the children in central Harlem suffer from the disease.

Early findings after three months show that 9 percent of the children affected by the disease were taken to the emergency room, down from 35 percent before the initiative; less than 1 percent were hospitalized, down from 9 percent; and 8 percent of children missed school for asthma-related reasons, down from 25 percent.

The prevention program involves early screening, a daily medicine regime and preventative measures around the house including regular vacuuming and using special bed linens to reduce the children’s exposure to dust mites and other environmental triggers for asthma. The New York Times called Harlem Children’s Zone “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” As president and CEO, Mr. Canada oversees the interlocking network of social service, education and community-building programs that enhance the quality of life for thousands of children and their families in some of New York City's most devastated neighborhoods.

Jane Lubchenco
Jane Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco shares the Zayed International Prize for Scientific and Technological Advancements in the Environment. Dr. Lubchenco, 8th Environment Heinz Awards, was cited for her years of researching the fundamental ecological and evolutionary relationships among animals and plants in the coastal systems. A professor at Oregon State University, her studies have led to a general understanding of factors affecting the abundance and biodiversity of coastal species.

The prize was awarded in June in a ceremony attended by international dignitaries in Dubai. It was established in honor of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates and governor of Abu Dhabi. The multiple winners share $1 million.