Conservation Leaders Honored at National Conservation Achievement Awards

NWF honors individuals and organizations who volunteer their time, commitment and service to the conservation movement

04-30-2013 // Anne Goddard

The National Wildlife Federation recognized six honorees for their outstanding contributions to the conservation field at NWF’s annual Conservation Achievement Awards at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C. on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

Larry and Reilly

The Honorable William K. Reilly was selected as the recipient of the J.N."Ding" Darling Conservation Award for lifetime achievement. As EPA Administrator for President George H.W. Bush, William Reilly’s leadership during passage of the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 stands as one of the most important public health and conservation achievements in modern times. 

Also among Reilly’s conservation accomplishments while at EPA, he vetoed the Two Forks dam in Colorado to protect wetlands and a prime fishing location, which resulted in new attention to water conservation by the Denver water utility; he became the first EPA Administrator to accompany the President to the then G-7 meeting, as well as the first to testify on environmental aspects of trade agreements. Mr. Reilly worked closely with NWF and others to ensure strong environmental provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was sent on a Presidential mission to inspect environmental damage after the first Gulf War, and led the U.S. delegation to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.  He also sped the clean-up of Superfund sites; launched voluntary environmental programs, including Green Lights, which became the Energy Star labeling program, as well as a toxics reduction challenge to industry; championed place-based environmental initiatives to boost support for restoring the country’s major water bodies; and created EPA’s Office of Environmental Equity.

After leaving EPA, Reilly started Aqua International Partners, a private equity investment fund dedicated to improving water services in developing countries. In 2010, President Obama appointed Reilly to co-chair the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, and in late 2012 to the new Global Development Council.

Reilly is the Chair of the Board of the ClimateWorks Foundation, Chair of the Advisory Board for Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project, Co-Chair of the Global Water Challenge, a Director of the Packard Foundation, and Chairman Emeritus of World Wildlife Fund. He also serves on the Boards of Royal Caribbean and Energy Future Holdings, a major Texas utility.

Over a lifetime William Reilly has made tangible and inspirational strides that truly change the outlook for public health and for conservation of natural resources for the current and future generations of Americans.

The Conservationist of the Year award has been awarded to Chairman of the Board of Bank of America Chad Holliday for his outstanding accomplishments within the environmental sustainability field. As former chairman and chief executive officer of DuPont, he set and met revolutionary sustainability goals and improved not only the company’s environmental footprint, but also its customers and consumers through the “Sustainable Solutions” program.

While at Dupont, he strongly supported The DuPont Land Legacy Program, which transferred 34,000 acres of land for preservation of green space and wildlife for future generations. As a co-founder of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), Holliday was a vocal champion, both on climate policy positions and with business leaders and Members of Congress. He is a co-founder of the American Energy Innovation Council, which advocates for progressive energy policies addressing climate change. Holliday has supported numerous environmental sustainability initiatives and organizations by volunteering his time at an array of events, such as the 2010 Sustainability Education Summit. 

Holliday encourages companies to lead by example and adopt business strategies that measurably improve society, the environment, and the economy.

Disney is the recipient of the Corporate Leadership Award. Disney, whose environmental legacy spans more than 60 years, is committed to protecting the planet for future generations and helping kids develop lifelong conservation values through nature exploration. The Company brings the magic of the natural world to kids through entertaining content including: engaging programs that inspire action like Disney’s Friends for Change, which has encouraged kids around the world to take nearly 20 million actions including beach cleanups and tree plantings; entertaining storytelling such as Disneynature films, which invests ticket proceeds to help protect precious ecosystems; experiences in places like Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which reflects the Company’s dedication to wildlife; and resources provided to organizations that protect habitats and develop education programs. Through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, the Company has provided more than $20 million to projects in more than half of the countries in the world. 

Dave and wolf

Leo W. Gerard is the recipient of the Special Achievement award. As the International President of the United Steelworkers (USW), Leo Gerard has served as a tireless spokesman and activist for green jobs and environmental protection, a cause which he sees as going hand in hand. He often has said that “having good jobs and a clean environment are not exclusive. In fact, you can’t have one without the other.”

He was a co-founder of the Blue-Green Alliance, a ground-breaking coalition of eight labor unions and four conservation organizations, including NWF, which works  together to move America to a new energy future and foster a growing economy at the same time.  An overarching issue for Gerard is corporate accountability. Gerard has responded to the double challenge of disappearing family-supporting, jobs and the advent of global warming by linking the two causes. Under his leadership, the USW has become the principal union backer of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition promoting a 10-year, $300 billion program to develop clean-energy alternatives. In creating a new progressive model that links labor and the environment, Gerard has built an alliance of genuine strategic importance. Gerard's passionate support for Apollo gave it the credibility it needed in labor circles and won it support from the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council and the Building and Construction Trades Department.  He has held an indispensable role in uniting both labor unions and environmentalists for a greener and more stable future.

Other awardees honored at the 2013 Connie Awards are NBC Nightly News correspondent Anne Thompson and environmental education specialist Akiima Price.  

Since the first annual Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet- now famed as the “Connie” Awards—began in 1966, the NWF has celebrated individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting wildlife through education, advocacy, communication and on-the-ground conservation. Previous honorees have included actor Robert Redford, former Vice President Al Gore, former President Jimmy Carter and Bette Midler.


Related Resources
  • Conservation Achievements Awards- A History

    Watch NWF's Conservation Achievement Awards video on the history of the awards and past honorees.

Get Our E-Newsletter 
Subscribe to National Wildlife Magazine!