AU holds annual William K. Reilly Awards for environmental leadership

The ceremony honored two professionals and two students for their work to fight climate change.

AU holds annual William K. Reilly Awards for environmental leadership

The University hosted the 4th annual presentation of the William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership on March 31.

The awards recognize leaders in environmental governance, and are supported by the William K. Reilly fund through the AU Center for Environmental Policy as well as corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations.

The awards are named for renowned environmentalist, William K. Reilly. Reilly has acted as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, president of World Wildlife Fund and as president of The Conservation Foundation. During the BP oil spill, President Obama appointed Reilly to co-chair the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

“The awards ceremony was designed to honor people who have made distinguished contributions to environment, energy conservation and resource use,” Reilly said.

The awards ceremony honored two awardees and granted scholarships to two outstanding master’s students in public administration or public policy.

Mindy Lubber received the William K. Reilly award for work in the private sector. Lubber is the president of CERES, a nonprofit that works with large businesses and encourages them to adopt sustainable environmental practices. In her acceptance speech, Lubber spoke of protecting the next generation from the onslaught of climate change.

“If we have a future, if we are going to provide for [our children], I don’t really care if you're from a red state or a blue state,” Lubber said. “[Climate change] could, within ten years, make it impossible to avoid irreparable damage to the planet and the habitability for our kids.”

The second awardee, Bob Perciasepe, received the William K. Reilly award for work in the public sector. Perciasepe is the former Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is now President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a non-profit that promotes the adoption of climate policies. He spoke about the importance of having a serious discussion about climate change with different sectors of the community.

“We need business leaders, consumers, policy leaders, activists, educators, students, public servants, elected officials, everybody has to be able to say,’This is something we have to deal with,’” Perciasepe said.

After the presentation of the awards, Reilly presented two scholarships to AU masters students, Maggie McCarey and Maria Athayde, both first-year graduate students in the School of Public Affairs. The Reilly scholarships are presented to exceptional graduate students who have dedicated themselves to environmental policy.

“I have to say, having known so many of their classmates, to distinguish themselves enough to get these awards in that company is in itself pretty significant,” Reilly said of the scholarship awardees.

The ceremony ended with the keynote address from Felicia Marcus, the Chair of the California Water Resources control board. Reilly referred to Marcus as the “Water Tsar.” Marcus spoke about tackling complex problems and cooperation by using the current drought in California as an example.

“[Dealing with climate change] is not just about smarts,” Marcus said, “Smarts are important, but smart people have dysfunctions too. It's about being aware of the context we’re in, being aware of what’s happening in the room, and most important, it's about choosing to be a part of helping to get to solutions rather than playing a role that doesn’t help things get done with everyone involved.”

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