Moral Courage In Leadership Award

2021 Recipient
Patricia Gualinga
President, Fundacion Tiam

Patricia Gualinga has worked for decades as a vital, internationally-recognized voice against oil extraction and destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. Patricia is an Indigenous rights defender of the Pueblo Kichwa de Sarayaku (Kichwa People of Sarayaku), an Indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Without their consent, communities in her area only learned that their land had been opened for oil exploration when strange helicopters arrived, followed by ‘men with guns’.  In  2012, Patricia was one of the representatives in a case presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in which the government was found guilty of rights violations and of authorizing oil exploration and militarization of Sarayaku lands without consulting the community.  It was an all too rare victory for Indigenous tribes.

Patricia describes recent times as “apocalyptic” for her village of 1350 people. The confluence of a massive oil spill, the pandemic and historical flooding have devastated her community. Yet despite everything, she persists and still holds hope because as she says, “there is so much to protect.”

Along with being the president of Fundacion Tiam, Patricia is also actively involved with Women Defenders of the Amazon against Extraction and REPAM (Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network).  As with so many Indigenous leaders, her work is dangerous and Patricia has suffered attacks, threats and harassment.

Her courage inspires us and we stand with Patricia to demand justice. We are deeply indebted to her vital contribution and leadership around Indigenous rights and the protection of this Earth we share.

2019 Recipient
Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

James Aadaki, DINÉ
Carleton Bowekaty, ZUNI PUEBLO
Terry Knight, UTE MOUNTAIN UTE
Shaun Chapoose, UTE INDIAN TRIBE
Clark Tenakhongva , HOPI TRIBE

In July of 2015, leaders from the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe , Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe founded the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. The Coalition represents a historic consortium of sovereign tribal nations united in the effort on multiple fronts to work collaboratively to protect and promote sacred, spiritual, historical, natural, scientific and cultural resources on lands within the Bears Ears landscape. The leaders of the Coalition have shown exceptional moral courage in their advocacy for an internationally significant cultural landscape in the face of extreme opposition, racial slurs, and difficult politics. Putting aside significant differences and past tensions between tribes, these elected representatives created a movement and set an example for indigenous leaders around the United States and the world.

These leaders successfully convinced President Obama to protect 1.35 million acres of their sacred homelands and now they continue to defend their ancestral lands from attacks by the current Administration. Importantly, they’ve done all this with an intentional focus on healing and incorporating Traditional Knowledge into public land management. While many moments would have tempted lesser people to respond with cynicism or despair, these leaders have taken the “high road” and remain committed to planning so that future generations may enjoy an ecologically resilient landscape of great cultural significance.

It’s worth noting that all the leaders of the Coalition manage many responsibilities (both political and cultural) within each of their communities that require huge time commitments beyond their involvement in Bears Ears advocacy. Despite this, these leaders have given nights, weekends, and vacations to be where they had to in order to stand up for sacred lands. Whether it be meeting with the Secretary of the Interior, testifying before Congress, meeting with grassroots organizations, or conducting ceremony with the next generation of Native leaders on the Bears Ears landscape, each one of the Coalition leaders have exhibited uncommon grace and courage in the face of adversity and serve as an example to us all.

2018 Recipient
Jane Difley President, Society For the Protection of New Hampshire Forests

Recognizing that land protection is only as strong as our willingness to defend it, Jane Difley demonstrated exemplary moral courage and leadership in defending New Hampshire landscapes against the development of the Northern Pass transmission line. Eight years ago, when Northern Pass first revealed its plan to despoil a 192-mile corridor from the Canadian border to Deerfield, New Hampshire, Jane declared that the Forest Society was “all in” and put the more than 100-year-old land conservation organization on the front lines.

Jane persisted in the face of monetary enticements and loss of support from certain facets of the business community. Her group was targeted with irate letters, phone calls and public declarations that the Forest Society should back down. Nonetheless, her team mobilized to enact strategies that included: conserving lands targeted by Northern Pass; mounting a legal challenge based on private property rights; spearheading the effort to pass state legislation preventing Northern Pass from gaining eminent domain access; educating every landowner in the 31-town corridor; placing staff at every state and federal public hearing; and mounting formal intervention at federal and state permitting processes.

One measure of a good leader is the caliber of their team. Not surprisingly, Jane gives credit to the guts, smarts and tenacity of her team at the Forest Society.

Alnoba International Indigenous Leadership Award

2021 Recipient
Janene Yazzie
Founder, Sixth World Solutions

Janene Yazzie is a powerful Native community activist. She is co-founder and CEO of Sixth World Solutions, which works with Dine’ (Navajo) communities to promote sustainability, environmental justice, and self-governance.  She co-founded the first Navajo Nation community-led watershed planning program to assert local control in the sustainable management, restoration, and protection of natural resources.

Janene will tell you she was born into this work and has built a career and life doing what she is most passionate about, “helping my people on frontline battle systemic injustice.”   And a big piece of her work is to get clean water to her tribe.

The Navajo Nation is roughly 298,000 people and is the size of Connecticut, and 30-40% of households do not have running water. For many households, water is their largest expense. The pandemic, severe drought conditions and a legacy of contamination including lead, magnesium, arsenic and even uranium create a perfect storm of need.

Because of her tireless work to bring water to her people, Janene knew even before the first case of COVID was diagnosed that it would devastate her community and that remote and vulnerable members would not be served. As Janene puts it, “You can’t wash your hands with bad water.”

With other Native women they created an all-volunteer grassroots Indigenous-led group operating on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations, the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief, with Janene serving as the New Mexico lead.

Her work has earned international recognition. Janene is Sustainable Development Program Coordinator for the International Indian Treaty Council and the council’s representative as co-convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group of the U.N. High-Level Political Forum on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

2019 Recipient
Francinara Soares Martins Baré
Federation Coordinator, Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations from the Brazilian Amazon

In 2017, Francinara Soares Martins Baré (Nara Baré) of the Baré people of Brazil, took the lead of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), one of the largest indigenous organizations in South America. She represents 75 organizations, 160 peoples, and more than 400,000 indigenous peoples in nine states. She leads at a critical point when indigenous peoples and the Amazon face immense threats, including the current government’s aggressive campaign to open the Amazon to exploitation.

Her work takes place in a dangerous environment, where indigenous peoples are menaced, persecuted, and killed. Nara ceaselessly advocates for the recognition and enforcement of the rights of indigenous peoples and highlighting the importance of indigenous peoples for the survival of the Amazon: “… if there are no more indigenous peoples in the Amazon, the Amazon will die with us.”

Nara Baré not only continues the challenging fight of indigenous peoples in problematic political times, but she is paving the way for indigenous women to meaningfully participate in this fight. By successfully leading an indigenous organization that is 80% male, Nara contributes to the rise and empowerment of indigenous women—not only in Brazil but in South America and beyond. She knows that indigenous women are vital to preserve the culture and traditional knowledge of their people and to educate future generations.

Emerging Environmental Entrepreneur Award

2021 Recipient
Donnel Baird
Founder, BlocPower

Donnel Baird is the founder of BlocPower, a clean tech startup based in New York City. His company aims to scale green energy across American inner cities by updating millions of older buildings while hiring from vulnerable populations. It’s a public benefit corporation—so it’s for-profit and focused on the bottom line but also committed to energy efficiency, renewable energy, greenhouse gas reductions, and economic development and job creation in low-income communities.

U.S. cities are packed with about 5 million medium-sized buildings such as schools, churches, community centers, apartment buildings. Most use significantly more energy than they should. Many also have poor airflow and dirty, out-of-date heating and electrical systems. Those conditions contribute to high inner-city asthma rates and other health concerns.

“These buildings are actually making children sick,” says Donnel Baird, who grew up in such a place. His parents, immigrants from Guyana, raised their kids in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, relying on a cooking stove for heat.

In 2014, Baird launched BlocPower, which provides engineering and financial know-how to retrofit city buildings. Since its founding in 2014, the company has retrofitted more than 1,000 buildings in disadvantaged communities in New York City, with projects underway in 24 cities. BlocPower uses proprietary software for analysis, leasing, project management, and monitoring of clean energy projects that save customers between 20-70 percent on annual energy costs. But the financing is critical. BlocPower builds the case for each project and connects owners with lenders and the company is backed by some of the world’s top investors.

2019 Recipient
Stephanie Speirs, Co Founder, Solstice

Steph is an entrepreneur and community builder with management experience in the Middle East, South Asia, and the United States.

Steph Speirs thinks about solar the way one might think about a community garden. Why go through the trouble of planting panels on your roof when you could instead plug into a shared neighborhood resource to access financial savings? She co-founded and runs Solstice, a social enterprise dedicated to radically expanding the number of American households who can take advantage of clean energy using community-shared solar farms.

Solstice’s financial and policy tools, including their unique EnergyScore underwriting metric, open scalable paths to inclusion for renters, low-credit households, and other Americans that have been left out of the clean energy transition. Their community organizing techniques and technology platform further make it easy for everyday Americans to access clean energy for the first time.

Steph is a Techstars alum and was selected as an Echoing Green Climate Fellow, a Global Good Fund Fellow, a Kia Revisionary, a Renewable Energy World 40 Under 40 in Solar, a Grist 50 Fixer, a GLG Social Impact Fellow, a Cordes Fellow, and an Acumen Global Fellow.

She previously led sales and marketing innovation initiatives in India at d.light, a solar products company powering areas without reliable electricity; spearheaded Acumen’s renewable energy impact investment strategy in Pakistan; developed Middle East policy as the youngest policy director at the White House National Security Council; and managed field operations in seven states for the first Obama presidential campaign.

She holds a B.A. from Yale, a Master in Public Affairs (MPA) with distinction from Princeton, and an MBA from MIT with a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She originally hails from Hawaii.

2018 Recipient
Alex Fried, Founder and Co Director, Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN)

Alex started with a seemingly simple question – how can we reuse ‘waste’ materials from dorm rooms from one year to the next? His answer was to found ‘Trash 2 Treasure’ when he was an undergraduate philosophy major and activist at the University of New Hampshire. He gathered volunteers, gained administration permission, organized operations, and created a financially sustainable model to establish drop-off locations for discarded TVs, fridges, furniture etc. from students heading home for the summer, and then hold a giant yard sale during move-in weekend for the incoming class. It was the first student led self-sustaining program of its kind in the country, and has collected over 200 tons of usable items since it was founded 8 years ago.

From there he launched PLAN (Post-Landfill Action Network) to support student leaders, share best practices and guide other campuses to launch and sustain student-led, Zero Waste projects. Their mission statement reads in part, “PLAN empowers our generation to be changemakers”. Today, PLAN works with and advises students and staff at over 250 campuses across the US and in 5 countries internationally.

For Alex and PLAN, this work goes beyond solving technical and logistical challenges to waste. They are focused on building a movement to challenge the linear consumption economy, address the most offending companies, and work in solidarity with environmental justice movement leaders. Through this work, PLAN has developed more than 100 international partners, including companies like Patagonia, Plastic Pollution Coalition, the PowerShift Network, and The Story of Stuff Project.

Considered a truly paradigm-shifting solution, PLAN is led by a passionate, resilient entrepreneur who has proven his ability to mobilize resources and inspire others. We will donate $10,000 in Alex’s name to PLAN to continue their good work.

CEO Environmental Leadership Award

2021 RECIPIENTS REBECCA HAMILTON & EMILY SCHWERIN-WHYTE, CO-CEOS, W.S. BADGER & COMPANY

Rebecca and Emily are 2nd generation owners/CEOs and daughters of founder, Bill Whyte. The two worked along side their father guiding operations and strategic planning before taking on their roles as CEO’s in 2018. They believe that the company’s impact on the environment and communities is a critical measurement of their success.

W.S. Badger & Co. makes over 100 organic and natural products in environmentally friendly manufacturing facilities that are sold in 20 countries. In the last year they’ve installed enough solar panels to offset 150% of their operating demand. They have also incorporated sustainability initiatives such as water reduction and plastic free packaging for all of their products. We are truly inspired by their example on how to successfully drive an organization forward while being environmentally and socially responsible.

Rebecca and Emily are long-time advocates of ethical business and social justice policies around climate change and fair minimum wage. Together they actively lobbied for state’s public benefit corporation legislation; Safe Cosmetics legislation, which is currently unregulated.

2019 Recipient
Matthew O’Malia, Founder/GO LOGIC, OPAL, AND GO LAB

When you look for heroes, you should always look in your own backyard. When we saw Matt’s nomination come through it made perfect sense to us to honor someone who blazed the trail in New England for Passive House design and who is now redefining the sustainable design industry.

In 2013, we gave Matt a seemingly impossible task—transform a set of New England meeting house timber frames into a Passive House standard building. Calm and unfazed, Matt set about to design Alnoba to be the first Passive House standard building of its kind in the northeast, which uses 75–90% less energy and blends 19th century craftsmanship with 21st century green technology.

An award-winning architect, he became a leader in Passive House design in the U.S. and speaks internationally on sustainable design. He cofounded GO Logic, a design/build firm that is focused on developing a practical, cost-effective approach to meeting the ultra-high-performance Passive House standard, which uses 90% less energy in space heating when compared to traditional buildings. Their first project, the GO Home, became the first certified Passive House building in Maine. Next, he went on to found GO Home, which provides predesigned, prefabricated homes for New Englanders, and use 90% less energy. This spring he launched OPAL, an architecture firm that is focused on creating the next generation of large-scale Passive House, carbon-positive buildings.

Believing a “well-insulated home can change the world,” Matt launched his latest venture, GO Lab, which will help transform the forest products economy by creating a manufacturing facility in a former paper mill in Madison, Maine. It will turn daily shipments of wood chips from Maine’s lumberyards into affordable, sustainable insulation and create good-paying jobs.

Knowing that buildings produce 44% of carbon emissions, GO Lab believes that “the survival of the planet is at risk unless critical industries change the way they do business.”

Matt has spent his career rethinking every detail of building construction, with an eye toward high performance, quality, and sustainability. He is an architect, entrepreneur, and visionary leader.

2018 Recipient
Leadership Team/Revision Energy

Phil Coupe
Bill Behrens
Fortunat Mueller
Dan Clapp

As a certified B Corp, ReVision stands out as the #1 renewable energy company in northern New England for building a cohesive workplace of employee owners, for their advocacy on climate policy and education, for their philanthropy and community-building efforts, and finally for developing innovative financial models to solarize nonprofits.

ReVision has more than 260 employee-owners and is ranked the #1 rooftop solar installer in New England and #5 in the nation by Solar Power Industry Magazine. Four of ReVision’s five offices run almost entirely without fossil fuels. Their vehicle fleet consists of plug-in electric cars, hybrids and trucks that run on biodiesel, and they provide incentives for employees to reduce their own carbon footprints.

ReVision spearheaded the “Power on Puerto Rico” initiative to design, build and ship off-grid emergency portable solar power units to remote communities in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. They also donate equipment and labor to help local nonprofits go solar, like the Crossroads House shelter in Portsmouth, Habitat for Humanity, and several public schools in Maine and New Hampshire.

Perhaps their most innovative program is their new investment fund called ReVision Solar Impact Partners, which aligns impact investors and tax equity financing with cashstrapped nonprofits, to enable them to acquire solar energy to increase their long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Their boundless energy, technical competence and unwavering optimism charges all our batteries!

Moment of Truth Award

2021 RECIPIENT CHRISTA BIG CANOE LEGAL ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICES

Right now, four out of every five Indigenous American women are affected by violence, and are murdered at rates more than 10 times the national average. By far the majority of those crimes are committed by individuals from outside the Native American community, often falling through jurisdictional cracks. It’s a crisis that demands action–a crisis that prompted Christa Big Canoe to take the kind of bold action that leads to big impact.

Christa is the Legal Advocay Director for Aborignal Legal Services (ALS), a nonprofit organization that works with the families of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) navigate the legal system to find justice for their loved ones.

In 2017, Christa was appointed Senior and then Lead Commission Council for Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Christa took a two and a half year leave from her work at ALS to lead thirteen Indigenous lawyers, twenty-six statement gatherers and a support team responsible for collecting truth from survivors and families.  The testimonies from “truth finding gatherings” have created one of the largest evidentiary records in Canada.   

Christa also represented six of the seven families in the “Seven Youth Inquest” in Thunder Bay. This investigation of the deaths of seven Indigenous students resulted in 145 federal and provincial recommendations to improve accountability, safety and education outcomes for Nishnawbe Aski Nation youths. While at Legal Aid Ontario, she led the province-wide Aboriginal Justice Strategy aimed at removing barriers to the legal system for indigenous people.

Christa’s unwavering courage to confront this critical issue and take action to bring about real change makes her an exceptional leader and we are proud to honor her with this award.