News in Brief: Promoting Green, Sustainable Communities Earns Environmental Recognition

April 3, 2023
Illustration of baby plant

UVA’s Committee on Sustainability honored faculty, staff, student and community efforts through its leadership awards program.

The University of Virginia’s Committee on Sustainability has honored members of both the University and the Charlottesville communities with Sustainability Leadership Awards for leadership in protecting the environment.

A selection committee led by the Civic Engagement Subcommittee chose this year’s winners from a very competitive group of nominees across four categories of faculty, staff, students and the community.

The student winner is the Environmental Justice Collective, a group dedicated to challenging the kinds of racism that often shape development decisions, and to providing a place where students of color can engage with environmental issues.

Cultivate Charlottesville staff and Christine Hirsh Putnam; and left to right on the bottom, Dr. Matthew Meyer; the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation; and the Environmental Justice Collective
Winners of the Sustainability Leadership Awards are, from left to right on the top, Cultivate Charlottesville staff and Christine Hirsh Putnam; and left to right on the bottom, Dr. Matthew Meyer; the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation; and the Environmental Justice Collective. (Photo compilation by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

The faculty winner is Dr. Matthew Meyer, an assistant professor of anesthesiology in the School of Medicine. For several years, Meyer has addressed ways that his UVA Health colleagues can apply the medical mantra “do no harm” to the environmental impact of medical care.

The staff winner is the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation, a group that helps other organizations make decisions that consider sustainability and environmental concerns.

There were two community awards. One was presented to Christine Hirsh-Putnam, a retired teacher and “super citizen” who focuses on education to help others recycle more effectively, and to develop sustainable habits.

The other went to Cultivate Charlottesville, which works to create a just food system on several levels, including working with city youth to grow gardens at eight city schools; working with the community through the Urban Agriculture Collective’s urban farm; and advocating through the Food Justice Network to help create a sustainable, healthy and just food system.

“We are so grateful to all those who submitted nominations. It was amazing to learn about all of the creative and positive work being done to move our collective needle, furthering sustainability on Grounds and across the broader community,” said Christie Julien, co-chair of the subcommittee and assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the Darden School of Business.

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“The variety of ways individuals and organizations are harnessing their unique strengths and applying simple yet sophisticated strategies to solve our collective energy, waste and equity challenges was inspiring to see,” said Erika Herz, subcommittee co-chair and strategic planning specialist with the Office for Sustainability.

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Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications