WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2013 (ENS) – To celebrate Earth Week 2013, American University’s Center for Environmental Policy has launched the William K. Reilly Fund for Environmental Governance and Leadership.

The Center for Environmental Policy also presented the inaugural Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership and the Reilly Scholarships at American University at an invitation-only event on April 23.

The fund, the awards and the scholarships were made possible by Reilly, a former U.S. EPA administrator noted for his distinguished career in public service, the private sector, and the nonprofit 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.

The university joined with corporate, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations to support the new fund. Corporate sponsors include Dow, DuPont, Intel, Coca-Cola, and Waste Management.

Reilly, Bell

William Reilly with American University student Kristina Bell, a Reilly Scholarship recipient (Photo courtesy American University)

“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 Center for Environmental Policy said in announcing the new fund.

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.

The fund supports 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 is currently a senior advisor to TPG Capital, LP, an international investment partnership. He 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 of President Barack Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

At the awards ceremony, Reilly delivered the keynote address “Leadership in a Polarized Era” in which 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.

Reilly emphasized, “the importance of language and particularly listening and understanding the other side rather than to trivialize or patronize other points of view.”

He 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.

William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership 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.

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 a scholarship to pursue her interest in the intersection of the environmental and social aspects of sustainability, both domestically and internationally.

Samuel Cramer was also awarded a Reilly Scholarship to explore renewable technologies and practices in the transition to an environmentally sound energy economy.

Zachary Rybarczyk received a scholarship for his interest in U.S. and global environmental policy and recognition of the need for the United States to continue to play an active role in international problem-solving.

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