William K. Reilly Annual Lecture & Award for Environmental Leadership

This annual event recognizes professionals from the public and corporate sectors who have contributed to innovation in environmental leadership and policy, including on energy and climate; advanced environmental justice; engaged diverse stakeholders; and helped nurture the leaders of tomorrow.  Support for future generations of environmental leaders is an important goal of the William K. Reilly Fund, and the Reilly Scholarship awardees are recognized during this event.

2022 William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership

The Center for Environmental Policy at the School of Public Affairs held a special event honoring the 2022 winners of the William K. Reilly Award for Environmental Leadership: Catherine Coleman Flowers, Founding Director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), and Paul Polman, campaigner and co-author of “Net Positive" 

2022 William K. Reilly Award Winners

The Center for Environmental Policy presented the winners of the 2022 William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership on Monday, May 2nd in a virtual ceremony.


Catherine Coleman Flowers, Environmental Justice and Health Advocate, Founding Director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), Author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret

Catherine Coleman Flowers is recognized for broadening the scope of environmental justice to include issues specific to disenfranchised rural communities and encouraging policy and research to address failing infrastructure that causes continuous socioeconomic disparities in rural neighborhoods in the U.S.

Flowers is an internationally known advocate for sanitation solutions and water access and chronicles her journey in her book Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret. As Vice Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Flowers advocates for addressing the overlapping and synergistic impacts of climate change and inequality. She
highlights the disproportionate burdens borne by those with the fewest resources and the most constraints on their civil rights and that reside in the most polluted places.

Flowers was named 2020 MacArthur Fellow for Environmental Health Advocacy and serves as a board member of both the Natural Resources Defense Council and The Climate Reality Project.


Paul Polman, Business leader, Campaigner and Co-author of “Net Positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take.

Paul Polman works to accelerate action by business to tackle climate change and inequality. A leading proponent that business should be a force for good, Paul has been described by the Financial Times as “a standout CEO of the past decade”.

As CEO of Unilever (2009-2019), he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model goes hand-in-hand with excellent financial performance. Paul was a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel which developed the Sustainable Development Goals and which he continues to champion, working with global organizations and across industry to advance the 2030 development agenda.

Paul’s new book, “Net Positive”, is a call to arms to courageous business leaders, setting out how to build net positive companies which profit by fixing the world’s problems rather than creating them. He Chairs IMAGINE, a social venture dedicated to systems change, the Saïd Business School, and he is Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact as well as a B Team Leader. Paul is Honorary Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, which he led for two years.

2021 William K. Reilly Awards

The Center for Environmental Policy at the School of Public Affairs held a special event honoring the 2021 winners of the William K. Reilly Award for Environmental Leadership: Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and EPA career civil servants, represented by current EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

2020 Event

April 14, 2021 | 6:30-7:45 pm Eastern

The 2020 Award Winners are Monica Ellis and Frank Loy were honored on April 14, 2021 in an interactive discussion moderated by Center for Environmental Policy Director Dan Fiorino and featuring Bill Reilly.

Monica Ellis, CEO, Global Environment & Technology Foundation; Global Water Challenge

Monica Ellis HeadshotMonica Ellis serves as the CEO of two organizations: Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF) and the Global Water Challenge (GWC). Ms. Ellis focuses on bringing safe water to communities and families that lack reliable and affordable access to this essential resource. To date, over four million people in 41 countries across Africa have received clean water through her team’s effort and a total of six million are expected to receive water by the end of 2020. In support of this work, she has organized a partnership of companies, foundations and government agencies and raised over $200 million dollars to support these programs.

Today, hundreds of projects are either underway or have been successfully transitioned to local communities as a result of Ms. Ellis’ vision, resilience, leadership and unfaltering commitment to leaving the world better than she found it.

Ms. Ellis serves as a member and/or advisor to several boards, including that of GETF, the Johns Hopkins University Global Water Advisory Board, U.S. Water Partnership, the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan and the Global Water Institute at Ohio State University

Frank Loy, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Frank Loy HeadshotFrank Loy has been engaged in environmental and climate issues since the 1980s.  He has served as lead U.S. climate negotiator, and as chair of major non-governmental organizations:  The Environmental Defense Fund, Resources for the Future, The League of Conservation Voters and Population Services International, the largest family planning organization operating in the developing world.  He served nine years on the Global board of The Nature Conservancy, was founding chair of ecoAmerica, and now chairs several climate-related organizations, including Climate Advisers Trust and The Smart Surfaces Coalition. 
He was appointed to posts in the State Department in four administrations:  by President Johnson as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs, by President Carter as Director of the U.S. Refugee Program, by President Clinton as Under Secretary for Global Affairs (which included the climate and environmental portfolios), and by President Obama as Alternate U.S. Representative to the UN.  He now funds an annual award for State career officers’ achievements in environmental diplomacy.
He spent a decade in the business sector, including as Senior VP of Pan American Airways, and as a partner of a turn-around firm that brought companies out of bankruptcy, including the Penn Central Transportation Company, then the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
He served for a decade as president of The German Marshall Fund of the U.S., an American foundation focused on US/European relations.

He has served on numerous corporate boards, including Madison Square Garden, Six Flags, and companies in the energy and real estate sectors.  He now serves on the Advisory Board of Terra Alpha Investments and on ExxonMobil’s External Sustainability Advisory Panel.

A Conversation with the 2020 Reilly Award Winners

Interview with 2020 William K. Reilly Awardee Monica Ellis

Interview with Frank Loy

Interview with 2020 William K. Reilly Awardee Frank Loy

Keynote Speaker
Phil Sharp, President, Resources for the Future
Leadership Awardees
Linda Fisher, former VP and Chief Sustainability Officer, DuPont; Deputy Administrator, EPA 
Kevin J. Fay, Executive Director, Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy
Scholarship Winners
Caroline Nickerson, SPA/MPP '19
Sabina Blanco Vecchi, SPA/MPP '19
Keynote Speaker
George S. Hawkins, CEO and General Manager, DC Water
Leadership Awardees
Mamie A. Parker, former Head of Fisheries and Chief of of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
William Baker, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Scholarship Winners
Jake Assael, SPA/MPA '19
Samantha Pedreiro, SPA/MPA '19
Keynote Speaker
Jay Faison, CEO and Founder, ClearPath Foundation
Leadership Awardees
Claire Barnett, Healthy Schools Network,
Vannesa and Ben Henneke, Clean Air Action International Small Group and Tree Planting Program
Scholarship Winners
Lisa Flores, SPA/MPP '18
Nick Nayak, SPA/MPA '18
Keynote Speaker
Felicia Marcus, Chair, California Water Resources Control Board
Leadership Awardees
Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres
Robert Perciasepe, President, Center for Climate and Energy Strategies
Scholarship Winners
Maria Manuella Athayde, SPA/MPA '17
Maggie McCarey, SPA/MPA '17
Keynote Speaker
Chad Holliday, Retired Chair of the board of directors and Chief Executive Officer of DuPont
Leadership Awardees
Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of Environment
Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Scholarship Winners
Amy Purpura, SPA/MPP '16
Jennifer Hatch, SPA/MPA '16
Keynote Speaker
Bob Graham, former Senator from Florida
Leadership Awardees
Daniel C. Esty, Executive Director, Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Yale Center for Business & Environment
Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, Executive Director, Children's Environmental Health Network
Scholarship Winners
Jennifer Hernandez, SPA/MPP '15
Kavita Mak, SPA/MPP '15
View the Program
Keynote Speaker
William K. Reilly
Leadership Awardees
Deerin Babb-Brott, Director, White House National Oceans Council
Jeffrey Leonard, President and CEO, Global Environment Fund
Scholarship Winners
Kristina Bell, SPA/MPA '14
Samuel Cramer, SPA/MPP '14
Zachary Rybarczyk, SPA/MPP '14
View the Program

Support the Fund

We invite corporate, foundation, and nonprofit organizations to engage as William K. Reilly Fund sponsors. Your generous support enables the Center for Environmental Policy to continue to provide meaningful forums for environmental policy dialogue based on sound analysis. Sponsors are recognized at CEP events and in our communications.


Learn More


Danielle Miller Wagner at 202-744-6506
Victoria Black at 202-885-2661