American University's Center for Environmental Policy launched the William K. Reilly Fund for Environmental Governance and Leadership, and presented the inaugural Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership in addition to the Reilly Scholarships at American University on April 23. The Earth Week trifecta is made possible by William K. Reilly, noted for his distinguished career in public service, the private sector, and the non-profit world. American University instituted the fund to complement its dedication to sustainability through the Center for Environmental Policy and other academic programs and its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2020.
As environmental challenges become more complex, the country urgently needs platforms to engage business, government, nonprofits, and the academic community in constructive dialogue and in devising new ways of resolving environmental issues. The Reilly Fund seeks to improve the institutions and means by which decisions are made that protect the environment and natural resources while strengthening their ties to the nation's economic health and social well-being through research and analysis; convening influential figures and fostering dialogues to enhance policy makers' understanding of critical environmental issues; sharing research and exchanging ideas in the United States and abroad; and nurturing the upcoming generation of leaders through professional training and internship opportunities for students.
Center for Environmental Policy director, Daniel Fiorino said, "The establishment of the William K. Reilly Fund helps the Center for Environmental Policy pursue its mission of strengthening collaborative environmental governance while also providing support to the environmental leaders of today and tomorrow."
Reilly delivered the keynote address "Leadership in a Polarized Era" where he traced the ups and downs of U.S. environmental policy from the Nixon administration to the present. Reilly pointed out the challenges of communicating with voting blocs today, which in turn lead many members of Congress to vote the sentiments of their district. In particular, Reilly emphasized, "the importance of language and particularly listening and understanding the other side rather than to trivialize or patronize other points of view." As an example, Reilly explained how some constituencies respond more favorably to environmental concerns when described in terms of theological underpinnings stressing "stewardship" and "care of creation" rather than purely scientific arguments.
In his conclusion Reilly highlighted his American University campus tour and the noticeable progress its making through the use of solar panels and other technology to reach 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2020. "It's really impressive and American University is a very appropriate place to honor environmental leadership," said Reilly.
Reilly is currently a senior advisor to TPG Capital, LP, an international investment partnership. Reilly's career highlights include having served as EPA Administrator (1989-93), president of World Wildlife Fund (1985-89), president of The Conservation Foundation (1973-89), founding partner of the water sector investment fund Aqua International (1998-2010), and co-chair to President Obama's National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.
William K Reilly Award for Environmental Leadership
The awards were presented to two individuals who have shown their dedication to the environment in pioneering ways.
Deerin Babb-Brott is the director of the White House National Ocean Council. He received the recognition for creating a new model for ocean policy, which seeks to reconcile the needs of diverse stakeholders while protecting marine resources.
Jeffrey Leonard is the founder and chief executive officer of the Global Environment Fund. Leonard's focus since 1990 on harnessing the potential of private investments to support sustainable economic development in harmony with environmental values was the reason for his selection.
William K Reilly Scholarship
Three graduate students in American University's School of Public Affairs received merit based scholarships for their interests and commitment to the environment to help offset tuition.
Kristina Bell won for her interests in the interaction of the intersection of the environmental and social aspects of sustainability domestically and internationally. For his commitment to pursuing renewable technologies and practices in the transition to an environmentally sound energy economy Samuel Cramer was also awarded a Reilly Scholarship. Finally, Zachary Rybarczyk for his wide-ranging interests in U.S. and global environmental policy and recognition of the need for the U.S. to continue to play an active role in international problem-solving was also a recipient of a scholarship.
American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation's capital and around the world.