Outstanding Leader

Sam Perkins - Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (Winner) 

Sam Perkins, the Catawba Riverkeeper, deserves to win Outstanding Sustainability Leader for his efforts to protect the region’s lakes, rivers and streams. For nearly 5 years, Sam has fought to protect our waterways from stormwater runoff, coal ash contamination, sedimentation, sewage spills, sludge spreading, improper waste storage at poultry facilities, pharmaceuticals and heavy metals in water, and poor water management. In addition to monitoring and sampling lakes and streams, responding to countless pollution reports, and advocating for the health of the Catawba River, Sam also trains a network of volunteers to do the same. In 2016 alone, he trained 67 new Water Watchers to be the eyes, ears and voice for our waterways. Most notably, because of his work to identify, document, and report leaking coal ash ponds, the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation ultimately secured the cleanup of 5.7 million tons of coal ash on the banks of Mountain Island Lake - Charlotte’s drinking water reservoir.

Unlike other leaders in the sustainability field, Sam Perkins tackles a wide variety of issues that affect the quality, quantity, and security of our water. Through the innovative Water Watcher program, Sam is able to multiply his efforts and protect clean water throughout the region.

Christine Weber - Bank of America

Christine started riding about 2 years ago. Since then she has become totally immersed in the Charlotte cycling community. She is the author of the internal Bank of America publication The Charlotte Cycle Connection that reaches commuters, racers, recreational riders and charity riders. The newsletter keeps BAC riders aware of different events as well as invites new riders to learn about commuting. She is one of the forces behind Free Wheelin Friday, WOW (Women on Wheels) and leads the 10 mile ride on Saturdays at Unknown. She is in the process of developing a bike commuting curriculum to be taught at lunch and learns within Bank of America.

Christine doesn't wait for someone to do something. She sees the opportunity, reaches the right people and finds a solution. We are blessed to have her energy within our Charlotte community.

David Valder - Crown Town Compost

David has devoted his career and education to environmental sustainability. He co-founded Crown Town Compost and has worked at Belk as their Sustainability Project Coordinator and now is at Central Piedmont Community College directing their efforts in Energy and Sustainability. Before he started his career he volunteered at Sustain Charlotte.

David is persistent and continues to move towards a better future by starting something out of nothing with Crown Town Compost. Professionally he has chosen to work with the same passion and surrounds his life with sustainability.

Dick Winters - Mecklenburg County Public Health

Over the past almost ten years, Mr. Winters has truly been a guiding force in moving Charlotte forward from its auto-oriented past into its multi-modal, and multi-generational future. He leads through his tireless championing of Safe Routes to School programming efforts both at the policy and systems level--with facilitation and education of City, County, CMS and community partners in 'what can be'--and in direct service to the public--by teaching school-aged children how to ride, to supporting Walk/Bike to School Day celebrations at schools and throughout the county. His guidance, thoughtfulness and leadership is also evident in his role as advisor--on the City's Bicycle Program Advisory Committee, on the leadership of major events like the 2015 North Carolina Bicycle Summit (and on the board of BikeWalkNC), the Greenways Committee, and in lead roles with the Recyclery/Trips for Kids Charlotte. It is evident that his commitment and passion is strong and unwavering!

Dick's passion for bicycles and riding is obvious; the inspiring aspect is that he unwaveringly loves sharing that passion with his fellow citizens so they--from childhood on--have the same opportunity he's enjoyed throughout his life.

Jewel D Pearson - Tiny House Trailblazers

Jewel D Pearson is one, if not the only 'woman of color' on the east coast that has promoted and led the Tiny House movement in this area. She is an excellent choice for this award because of her focus not only on 'economic sustainability' but her promotion for women and men of all diverse backgrounds and support for assisting those that choose to see DIFFERENCES as a reason not to work together. She is my classmate whom I have known for over 30+ years and one word that spoke for her then and speaks for her now is 'consistency'! That is unfortunately not a word that speaks' volumes' in the positive light for many lately. She truly is deserving in more ways than one. Check out her 'HGTV Tiny House Big Living' episode. She has put Charlotte on the map in a 'beautiFULL' way!

Her continued attention to detail on every aspect of work that she does for herself and OTHERS! Many people think detail is only important in designing; no, it matters when answering simple questions. Her ongoing promotion of equality and fairness in housing, justice, economics, etc.

Renee Bradley - Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association

She has been one of the leaders of the Stroll & Roll project advocating for road diets and dedicated bike/pedestrian lanes on Parkwood and The Plaza.

She has not only helped formulate the Stoll & Roll plan but has galvanized support for the plan through outreach to surrounding neighborhoods. She has also advocated for the plan by presenting it to City Council.

Rickey Hall - West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition

Rickey Hall is a lifelong resident of his community and an exemplary servant leader. He has inspired neighbors to participate in sustainability efforts including advocacy for green space such as the Reid Park Park that recently opened, a youth mentorship program, neighborhood stream and litter clean-ups, and other community improvement work. He's a powerful and relentless advocate for safer neighborhood streets and has organized residents to ask elected officials for speed bumps and infrastructure improvements. Most recently, as leader of the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition, Rickey played a pivotal role in launching Seeds of Change, a project that will improve community health and economic development opportunities through community gardening and a greenhouse, cooking classes, an educational aquaponics lab, involvement of K-12 students from nearby schools, and a start-up co-op market. His years of humble service are a shining example of sustainable leadership.

Rickey's commitment to the community extends beyond his immediate neighborhood of Reid Park as he has taken on a leadership role to unite the West Boulevard neighborhoods to be stronger together as they work towards a common vision of health, economic resilience, and social equity.

Rob Phocas - City Of Charlotte

As the individual responsible for the sustainability and energy objectives for the City, Rob is leading the efforts to initiate and sustain the goals of an area identified by the City's leadership as the North End Smart District (NESD) within the Applied Innovation Corridor. Objectives are to create a smart city ecosystem that will: 1) minimize environmental impact; 2) Create economic opportunities for all; 3) Create social capital for all. Plans are to utilize a Public-Private-Plus partnership to better take advantage of smart city technology i.e. smart street lighting, utility metering, fiber installation, 'big' data, etc. All social strata within the NESD are included to better ensure acceptance of the technology, acceptance of conservation measures, utilization of sustainable transit opportunities, and the resulting socio economic advantages. The project is in it's infancy but Rob's vision is to revitalize this area through the triple lens of sustainability..people, profit, planet.

Simply put..it is Rob's doggedness and despite hitting roadblock after roadblock he perseveres. He truly wants what is best for the community and believes all must be included in the smart city revolution to come. He's willing to listen and offer constructive feedback to help the process along.

Stephen Gilbert

Stephen is an intricate part of the Charlotte cycling scene. He leads the "Thursday Night Light" ride that shows people that cycling can be a mode of transportation as they stop at a local restaurant to eat. He also leads the Saturday morning Unknown ride.

A great quote from one of Stephen's riders. "I've learned more about how to get around Charlotte by riding with Steve on Thursday night than I did the 5 yrs before I met him.

Stephen Graddick IV - Green Seeds Network

Stephen is passionate about sustainability! Every chance that he gets, he uses it as an opportunity to teach others about the importance of sustainability and how to go green. He has encouraged my entire family how to go green by recycling, using less water, planting herbs and vegetables and using less energy! He was exposed to the entire concept of "green" and sustainability through a contest in college. Toyota hosted a contest throughout the country and Stephen won the grand prize! As a result, Toyota donated to his university $10K in trees and the use of a Toyota Prius! Thereafter, he became the spokesperson for Toyota Green initiatives for the next 5 years.

With his awesome ability to public speak and his compassion for sustainability, Stephen is the ideal spokesperson for anything green! In addition, he's very engaging and extremely funny. "Planting Seeds" is his favorite slogan!





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