By Laura Fauth and Sarah Wootton
Twenty-five years ago, Steve Griffiths poked his nose into the closet-sized office of the Sierra Club's Hawaii Chapter and asked if they needed any volunteers. Nearly three decades later, Griffiths is still with the Sierra Club. "I would make the same decision tomorrow if I had the chance to do it over again," says Griffiths.
On April 29, Griffiths was one of seven Club staffers honored at the Sierra Club Employee Award ceremony. Currently assistant director of the Office of Environmental Programs, Griffiths received the Community Service Award for his long-time volunteer service at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in San Francisco's Mission District.
Jack Hession, senior regional representative in Alaska, received the Michael McCloskey Award, given to an employee whose work reflects and strengthens the meaning, purpose and mission of the Club. Hession was honored for 30 years of exemplary work in Alaska. Hession was a driving force behind passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the largest land protection legislation in the history of conservation.
Chris Ballantyne, senior regional representative in the Club's Northeast field office, and his colleague Baret Pinyoun, associate regional representative, received the Special Achievement Award for their extraordinary work on the campaign to force General Electric to clean up PCBs in the Hudson River.
Their campaign was cited as a "model" that garnered local, regional and national press attention with campaign strategies involving corporate accountability, environmental justice and grassroots organizing.
Sandy Bahr, Grand Canyon Chapter conservation director, and Gayle Sheehan, assistant director of OEP, were recognized for their consistent and exemplary service to the Club with the Virginia Ferguson Award, named after the Club's first paid employee.
In addition to being chapter director, Bahr maintains a high-profile presence as the Club's staff lobbyist in the Arizona State Legislature. Bahr's strong interpersonal skills also make her one of the chapter's primary recruiters of activists.
In Sheehan's nearly 12 years at the Sierra Club, she has acquired experience and expertise in a number of areas. She successfully manages funding for the Club's restricted projects and is the Club's expert on how to legally carry out restricted programs. Sheehan was praised by her supervisor as "friendly, upbeat and always a pleasure to work with."
Kevin Kosik, director of Member Services in the Office of Development, received the Excellence Award for the commitment he has shown in managing - and often improving - projects and programs in his department. He was recognized for initiating a culture of "looking for constant improvements" throughout the Club.
Also honored for 20 years of service were Mary Gravitt, director of Prospect Research in the Office of Advancement; Chris Ballantyne; Rob Smith, Southwest field director; Ken Holsclaw, associate director of Finance in the Office of Development; Jim Price, Southeast field director; Melanie Griffin, national director of the Environmental Partnership Program; and John DeCock, who began as an employee of the Sierra Club and is now executive director of The Sierra Club Foundation.
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