After two virtual years, we were happy to gather with friends and leaders on September 7th, 2022 to celebrate environmental leaders across the state.
Not too along ago, Representative Ball was on stage receiving a Rising Star, so it’s no surprise to have her back as the Representative of the Year. From Highway Cleanup and the Safe Drinking Water Act, to legislation on Forever Chemicals, Representative Ball has sponsored every type of good environmental legislation in the General Assembly. If there is a piece of environmental legislation that she hasn’t heard from NCLCV about, she proactively asks where NCLCV is on the legislation, and if it will be scored on the Legislative Scorecard. She is a model member of the legislature.
When one of your first jobs is working for Al Gore, it should come as no surprise to see Senator Nickel receive the Senator of the Year award. Senator Nickel has been a loyal supporter in the Senate for all things environmental and fierce opponent at attempts to roll back environmental protections. This year he has supported renewable energy tax credits, state clean energy goals to name a few. Senator Nickel know environmental policy because he has worked on it for so long. We are happy to honor him tonight and will miss him in the Senate, but excited to see him take the fight to Congress next year.
The Catalyst is for those who have taken exceptional action to create change and bring attention to environmental issues; attorney Mona Lisa Wallace is a proven hero on this front. From coal ash to hogwaste, she has fought corporations to bring justice to those most impacted. Representing 500 neighbors against Smithfield-owned hog lagoons, she won. We need heroes like Mona Lisa Wallace, who aren’t afraid to take on even the federal government to bring justice for those who suffer from years of water contamination at Camp Lejeune. When legislation fails North Carolinians, we need principled attorneys and advocates like Mona Lisa.
The Asheville community is still mourning the loss of Karen Cragnolin who passed away in January. She led the revitalization of the French Broad River and River Arts District, and founded and led RiverLink for 30 years. RiverLink, under her leadership is credited with revitalizing Asheville’s riverfront and for cleaning up the French Broad River, ushering in a new generation of environmental stewardship and responsible economic growth. Karen made saving the river her life’s work. In her honor, RiverLink is transforming a former junkyard along the river into Karen Cragnolin Park. Karen’s daughter, Nikki Harris accepted the award in her mother’s honor.
Each year in the General Assembly, new voices emerge that North Carolina citizens can count on to ensure the environment, democracy, and social justice are priorities, particularly when there are difficult decisions and conflicting interests. We honor the legislators who make the environment a key issue they champion as they move into leadership positions. This year’s winners are:
Senator Sarah Crawford
Senator Julie Mayfield
Senator DeAndrea Salvador
Representative Vernetta Alston
Representative Amber Baker
Representative Terry Brown
Representative Linda Cooper-Suggs
Representative Brian Farkas
Representative Ricky Hurtado
Representative Abe Jones
Representative James Roberson
The “Joe” is an award named in honor of Speaker Joe Hackney– the consummate environmental champion. With this award, we honor individuals who have finished their service at the General Assembly, but have, and will continue to work hard for the people of NC. These are leaders who fought for clean air, clean water, clean energy, a just democracy, and fair treatment for all North Carolinians. They put people over politics, and principles over profit. We must work hard to elect another group of leaders as fine as these:
Senators Valerie Foushee and Jeff Jackson. Representatives John Ager, Susan Fisher, Verla Insko, Grier Martin, Evelyn Terry, and Brian Turner.
Dr. Chavis, a nationally known civil rights and environmental justice leader, has served as the president of the NAACP and vice president of the National Council of Churches, among roles. He first rose to international attention as a young organizer in efforts to desegregate the Wilmington school system in 1971. He and nine other activists were falsely accused of arson and convicted in a case subsequently overturned in federal court. The defendants were dubbed “the Wilmington 10” in international media, and ultimately received a pardon of innocence from Governor Perdue.
Chavis was later involved in the fight against a controversial toxic waste landfill in Warren County. Excavated soil from the illegal dumping of PCB-contaminated oil along 240 miles of rural roads in eastern NC was disposed of in a landfill in the majority Black, poor, and rural Warren County. He famously labeled the landfill’s siting as “environmental racism” in a case which became a precursor of the American environmental justice movement. This September marks the 40th anniversary of that 1982 fight.
Dr. Chavis is the current President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and host of the Chavis Chronicles.
Rhianna Absher is a young climate activist on a path to great things also made her passionate plea for how important it is to vote for leaders who will protect our environment and stand for environmental justice. She is a student at NCSU, pursuing a double major in Environmental Science and Plant Biology with minors in Forest Management and Environmental Education. She has served as an “Action for the Climate Emergency Fellow” with ACE, where her interest was environmental and energy justice. Currently, she is a Goodnight Scholar and a member of the KIETS Climate Leadership Group at the Kenan Institute.
The Alcorn Family Foundation*
Jim Overton & Mary Mountcastle
Jeff & Lari Hatley
Brad & Shelli Stanback
The Honorable Cynthia Ball
The Honorable Rufus & Linda Edmisten
The Honorable Patsy Keever
The Honorable David Knight
Walker & Marjorie Rayburn
The Salamander Fund
The Honorable Terry Van Duyn
The Honorable Lucy Allen
Jean & Andrew Canada
Dan Crawford & The Honorable Sarah Crawford
The Honorable Sig Hutchinson
Deborah Dicks Maxwell
NC Justice Center*
Joel Porter & Dr. Elizabeth Coviello-Porter
Mary Beth Powell & Bill Rote
The Honorable Joe Sam Queen
Steve & Rachel Smith*
Aldridge Wilder, III
Help us fight for fair maps, free elections, clean air, clean water, and clean energy for every North Carolinian!
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