The Century Foundation (TCF), a leading progressive think tank, today announced that Richard Moore, one of the founders of the environmental justice movement, and Gina Ramirez, an environmental activist and leader on Chicago’s Southeast Side, will receive TCF’s 2023 Peter A.A. Berle Environmental Integrity Awards, in recognition of their leadership in pushing the nation’s environmental laws, policies, and institutions to provide justice for low-income communities and communities of color in the United States.
The Berle Award has been given periodically by The Century Foundation to honor Americans who, through action or scholarship, provide innovative leadership to help the United States and the world confront the challenges of climate change, environmental pollution, and the resulting injustices. In honor of their tremendous accomplishments, both Moore and Ramirez will receive a prize of $10,000 as the 2023 Berle Award recipients.
“The Berle Award recognizes the growing importance of our nation’s environmental justice movement and its central role in helping address urgent environmental and climate challenges,” said TCF President Mark Zuckerman. “We cannot address climate change if we ignore the fact that its impacts often fall hardest on low-income people and communities of color. Richard Moore called our nation’s attention to this truth more than 30 years ago, and Gina Ramirez has carried the torch forward on behalf of her community in Chicago.”
The 2023 Berle Award winners were selected by an independent panel of environmental leaders and lawyers, a former winner of the Berle Award, and former colleagues and family members of Peter A.A. Berle. Speaking for the panel, Peggy Shepard, herself a nationally-recognized leader of the environmental justice movement, said: “Richard Moore helped put environmental justice on the map long before most environmental organizations and policymakers understood that critical gap in our environmental laws and policies. He has remained at the center of that movement as Co-coordinator of Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico and, most recently, as Co-chair of the inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. He exemplifies what the Berle Award is all about.”
Yukyan Lam, another member of the award panel, added, “Gina Ramirez has dedicated much of her life to advancing environmental justice on Chicago’s Southeast side, a community facing significant, cumulative environmental burdens. Most recently, she helped lead the fight against a notorious polluter trying to relocate a noxious industrial facility from a wealthy neighborhood to her already overburdened community. She is the very embodiment of the modern EJ movement that Richard Moore helped ignite.”
The 2023 Berle Awards represent the final year of a prize commemorating the life of Peter A.A. Berle, who died in 2009 and was an early pioneer of the environmental movement in New York, and later President of The Century Fund and the National Audubon Society. The award was established by TCF and former colleagues and family members of Peter Berle in cooperation with NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the Audubon Society, the Environmental Defense Fund, EarthJustice, and the Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association.
Speaking for the award committee, Dolf Berle expressed his appreciation for the work of the Award panel and added: “We are grateful that this final year of the Berle Award has recognized the very values that Peter Berle lived by—courage, integrity and commitment to protecting both our natural environment and social justice in our community.”
The 2023 Berle Awards will be presented to the winners in September in New York City. The inaugural award was presented in 2009 to Dr. James E. Hansen, director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and David Foster, executive director, Blue Green Alliance. Past recipients include former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson; former New York State Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Pete Grannis; renowned author and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert; and former EPA official Dr. Elizabeth Southerland.
About the 2023 Award Recipients
Richard Moore is a longtime leader of the environmental and economic justice movement in the United States. He was a major force behind, and the signatory to, the 1990 letter to major environmental groups, Group of Ten letter, that helped put environmental concerns on the mainstream map. He is Co-Chair of the inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). He is Co-Coordinator of Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
He is the recent past Co-Coordinator of the national Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, which advocates for stronger, safer, and just chemical processes. He is also Co-Founder and Board Member of the Just Transition Alliance and recent past board member of Coming Clean, Inc. Currently, after working to create a Justice 40 Coalition in New Mexico, Los Jardines Institute achieved the first national Mayoral Executive Order. Moore was named Co-Chair to the city’s J40 Oversight Committee. He is a recipient of many awards and accolades acknowledging his decades of movement leadership, including the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World in 2005 and Health Care Without Harm’s highest distinction, The Environmental Health Hero Award in 2016. In 2015 Richard was inducted into the Civil Rights Hall of Fame, Hall of Resistance in Selma, Alabama.
Gina Ramirez is a third generation Southeast Side Chicagoan. Ramirez’s work focuses on furthering Chicago’s land use and zoning rules that can provide crucial protections for areas that are burdened with cumulative industrial pollution. Ramirez is Senior Advisor to the Southeast Environmental Taskforce, Midwest Outreach Manager at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and a member of the Chicago Environmental Justice Network. Over the past few years she has worked on a variety of environmental justice campaigns, from stronger rules on the bulk storage of manganese to a denial of the General Iron permit, which gained national attention. In addition, Ramirez collaborated with community partners to conduct a health study on manganese impacts on children which began in 2022.
She is the recipient of the Matthew Freeman Social Justice award and an active volunteer with P.E.C.S (Parents of Extraordinary Children) working to bring resources to children with developmental disabilities in the Southeast Side of Chicago. She has a MA focused in sociology from Roosevelt University and BA in communications from DePaul University.