Environmentalist of the Year Awards

December 1, 2023; California State Railroad Museum

We’re celebrating our 50th Anniversary of Environmentalist of the Year Awards. Nominate someone. Become a sponsor. Don’t miss the event at the California State Railroad Museum!

ECOS, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, has hosted “Environmentalist of the Year” Awards since 1973. These awards honor and celebrate Sacramento area leaders who have taken noteworthy action to improve the sustainability of our region. This event is also an important opportunity for us to financially support ECOS.

ECOS was founded by those involved with the first Earth Day. The Sacramento region was (still is!) suffering from sprawl development that destroys habitat and makes our air unhealthy. Environmental and public health organizations realized fifty years ago that to be most effective, we needed to band together.

Today ECOS has twenty organizational members and many partners and affiliates. As climate change has emerged as an existential threat, and as regional homelessness increases, we combine our forces and push even harder for affordable, transit-oriented development, and preservation of open space.

Through the Environmentalist of the Year Awards, we honor local leaders. The following are just examples of the fields in which awardees work:

  • TRANSIT: Work to increase awareness of the importance of expanded transit and infill development to housing affordability, the economic revitalization of inner suburbs, reduction of vehicle trips and related green house gas emissions;
  • ANTI-SPRAWL: Stand up against sprawl development and for the key anti-sprawl planning action from 1993, the Sacramento County Urban Services Boundary;
  • CLIMATE: Study local government climate plans, make comments and recommendations, and advocate with elected officials and staff to make aggressive and well-supported plans, so our region can be a leader in reversing unhealthy climate change;
  • AIR: Implement air quality monitoring as the first step toward air quality improvement;
  • HABITAT: Outreach to neighborhoods and elected officials to increase awareness of the importance of our region’s wildlife habitat and habitat-supportive farmland; the landmark 1997 Natomas Basin and South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plans; Sacramento’s location in the Pacific Flyway and in one of the Earth’s biodiversity hotspots;
  • ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: Work to lessen environmental injustices stemming from the past, such as redlining, and happening now, such as air pollution from freeways;
  • SERVICE: Serve faithfully on the ECOS Board for many decades;
  • FUNDING: Work to promote ballot measures to fund transit, safe and complete streets, and affordable housing;
  • WATER: Work tirelessly to improve the management of the region’s surface and ground water quality and supply.

Become an EARLY SPONSOR by October 7, 2023 and receive special recognition in all communications.

Tickets to the Awards Ceremony and Dinner:

Tickets are $50.00 (plus processing fees) if you buy them online ahead of time.

Tickets will be $55.00 (plus processing fees) at the door.

Note: we want this event to be accessible to all. If you need help due to financial hardship, please contact Alexandra Reagan at office[at]ecosacramento[dot]net.

Getting there: The California State Railroad Museum is in Old Town Sacramento, at 125 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814. It is a 3- to 10-minute walk from transit stops – 4th and J Streets (88 bus); 3rd and K Streets (62 bus); I and 8th Streets (51 bus); Sacramento Transit Center (38 bus); St. Rose of Lima Park at 9th & K (Blue Line LRT). Also, a parking garage can be accessed from I Street under I-5.

2022 Environmentalists of the Year

Chris Brown

Chris Brown has achieved major success as coordinator of the Sacramento Climate Coalition, which played a lead role in convincing three local entities to adopt Climate Emergency Declarations with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. The first was the city of Sacramento in 2019. In 2020, the SMUD Board’s declaration includes a goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, and for a commitment to environmental justice. Also in 2020, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors’ declaration led to the creation of a Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force to oversee the county’s climate action planning process and advise it on actions to take in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. Chris, an expert in water conservation and drought, also serves on ECOS’ Water Committee; and on the board of the Green Incubator, which supports citizen efforts for environmental protection in our region.

Ralph Propper

Ralph Propper is Chair of the ECOS Climate Committee after serving as ECOS President of the Board for four years. He is also a member of the Breathe Sacramento board. After retiring from the research division of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Ralph taught chemistry part-time at UC Davis and Sacramento City College. Prior to CARB, Ralph worked at the Coalition for Clean Air.

Ralph is a leader in environmental advocacy. His professional work in air pollution research, toxics, and climate science, and his academic studies in chemistry and environmental health mean his advocacy is informed by science. He is a coalition builder and helped to establish SacMoves and Sacramento Investment Without Displacement. Ralph is welcoming and never hesitates to fill in those who are interested on the status of the work. From late nights at Sacramento County Board of Supervisors hearings to Farmer’s Market chats with our allies, Ralph is always “on” and ready to fight for a healthier Sacramento for all.

Mark Berry

Mark Berry has been leading the charge with neighborhood group “Preserve the American River” to prevent inappropriate development of the old Kassis property in Rancho Cordova – 41 acres of open space between Folsom Boulevard and the American River that provides valuable wildlife habitat. The developer’s proposed plan is to build a retaining wall up to six feet high along the river bluff edge and fill-in the floodplain ten feet high to build 100 homes, 24 of which would be tightly spaced mansions looming over the riverfront. They intend to abandon recorded public hiking and riding easements that allow public access and American River Parkway trail connectivity along the river. Mark’s group has worked with ECOS member “Save the American River Association” to push the City to save the lower acreage and require a full Environmental Impact Report before the City Council votes. ECOS is on record as opposing development in the river floodway; we prefer transit-oriented development including affordable housing outside of the floodplain and near RT’s proposed Horn Road light-rail station.

Mackenzie Wieser

Mackenzie Wieser is CEO of Sacramento Splash, a regional environmental education organization. Its mission is to help children understand our natural world. Her work on vernal pools and their biodiversity includes programs to increase their awareness of native habitat, especially vernal pools. This year, she created the Youth Environmental Leadership Camp for middle-schoolers, with docents from agencies, businesses, and non-profits.

Previously, Mackenzie was a planner for the California Strategic Growth Council, and climate change program manager for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. While serving as Elk Grove Planning Commissioner, she helped defeat a plan to locate a large hospital next to a National Wildlife Refuge. After serving on the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors appointed her to its Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force, to provide input related to the built environment.

We applaud Mackenzie’s commitment to conservation and her efforts to improve land use planning decisions.

Past Environmentalist of the Year awardees have been citizen activists, professors, students, elected officials, governmental and agency staff, business and labor leaders, scientists, lawyers, developers, planners, and architects.

2021 Environmentalists of the Year

Because of COVID, ECOS honored awardees through the short film below by Kent Lacin. Enjoy the film!

Past EOY Awardees
Past EOY Sponsors (2021)

Hashtag: #sacenviroawards