Honorees Improve the County’s Natural Environment, Benefitting All Residents
Today, the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC) announced the recipients of the 2023 Environmental Excellence Awards.
Since 2000, Fairfax County has issued the Environmental Excellence Awards to recognize county residents, county employees, businesses and organizations who demonstrate extraordinary leadership within the community and exceptional dedication to the preservation and enhancement of the county’s natural resources. The awards are administered by the Environmental Quality Advisory Council with support from OEEC.
This year’s winners include a high school senior combatting climate change through environmental stewardship, a small business working to reduce plastic waste, a condo association safeguarding green spaces for its residents, and three county employees advancing sustainability practices.
“We are fortunate to have these leaders working tirelessly in our community to preserve and protect the natural world we all share,” said Jeffrey C. McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “Their contributions make a significant impact and inspire others to join in the effort to build a more sustainable future.”
“By giving their time, passion and expertise for the betterment of our environment, these awardees are true climate champions,” added Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, chair of the Board’s Environmental Committee. “We applaud them for leading by example and helping to ensure that our county residents and visitors can enjoy a healthy and beautiful Fairfax County for decades to come.”
The 2023 Environmental Excellence Awardees are:
Individual County Resident Category
Mei Torrey, a rising senior at Langley High School and environmental advocate. Miss Torrey promotes and actively seeks opportunities to increase awareness of, and take action on, local sustainability issues. She is the club-elected President of Saxons Go Green, a school-affiliated environmental club at Langley High School. She has also organized fundraisers and collaborated with Clean Fairfax to design reusable bags and distribute them to local grocery stores, retailers, and low-income areas throughout the county to reduce plastic waste.
County Employee Category
Hugh Whitehead, an Urban Forester with the Urban Forest Management Division. In 2016, Mr. Whitehead initiated a tree planting program in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools. Since 2016, a total of 494 trees have been planted at twenty-one different K through 12 schools including seven Title 1 schools. This program not only supports the Board’s Sustainability Initiatives, reforestation goals, and recommendations from the Joint Environmental Task Force, but furthers educational opportunities throughout the county.
Joe Gorney, a Planner with the Department of Planning and Development, Environment and Development Review Branch. Mr. Gorney works collaboratively with other county agencies on a diverse range of environmental review topics, working to create a sustainable future for residents and employees. He was the staff lead for the Environmental Plan guidance update for the Reston planning study, designating Reston as “biophilic” community.
Craig Carinci, Director of Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Stormwater Planning Division. Mr. Carinci provides excellence in leadership through monitoring and improving stream health. During his tenure as Director, Fairfax County has restored over 100,000 linear feet of streams, facilitated by his open-minded leadership and business acumen that fearlessly encourages his team to push forward on initiatives and collaborate with partners to achieve cost savings.
Organization and Business Category
The Zero Waste Store, Vienna. While the Zero Waste Store provides products to reduce plastic waste, the store’s owner, Mala Persaud, goes above and beyond to educate residents through the Zero Waste Store’s website and community events. There is always a good turnout whenever Ms. Persaud co-hosts a “Recycling: Ask Me Anything” event with the Fairfax County Solid Waste division.
Montebello Condominium Unit Owners Association Grounds Committee. This committee features 14-members who research and recommend actions to preserve, maintain and enhance the grounds of this community. Members put in many hours each year to develop and advocate for projects, identify and address threats to the grounds, introduce new approaches, undertake citizen science projects, host resident engagement programs, communicate through newsletters and materials, and much more. Their impact benefits the residents, the neighborhood and the county.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony later this fall.
For more information, including a list of past winners, please visit the Environmental Excellence Awards webpage.