The Frank Hatch Award for Enlightened Public Service honors outstanding John Merck Fund grantees whose work embodies the extraordinary creativity, dedication and foresight that marked Frank Hatch's leadership of the fund from 1987 to 2006.
The award is made in the form of a $50,000 grant, given annually, to an individual at a current or former JMF grantee organization. The individual can be at any stage of their career, from formative to mature. The recipient is given the discretion to decide, with JMF consultation, whether the award will be made to his/her organization, to the individual directly, or to both in combination. If the award is made directly to an individual, JMF takes the responsibility for apprising them of potential tax consequences.
Russell Libby is a Maine native who planted his first garden after getting free seeds at the end of fourth grade. His involvement with Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (MOFGA) started at the first Common Ground Country Fair in 1977 where he saw a connection between local, organic food and a strong Maine economy. He began participating in the Consortium for Maine Food Self-Reliance in 1979, and joined the MOFGA Board of Directors in 1983. After a dozen years on the Board, including two years as President, Russell became Executive Director in 1995. He has led MOFGA’s growth over the past decade as the organization moved to the new Common Ground Education Center in Unity, expanded the ag services and education programs, and created a subsidiary to run the certification program. He served 10 years as Research Director at the Maine Dept of Agriculture, and now serves on the Agricultural Council of Maine, the U/Maine Board of Agriculture, Maine Farmland Trust, Eat Local Foods Coalition, FEDCO Seeds, and the National Organic Coalition.
Both in and beyond Maine, Russell is respected as a well-informed, persuasive and deeply committed champion for how small-scale, local, organic, sustainable agriculture can serve as a powerful antidote to what he tagged in a recent TEDx talk as, the “Roadrunner economy.” Russell conjures the image of Coyote in hot pursuit of the Roadrunner as the perfect metaphor for our prevailing economic system whose frantic chasing after an illusory object of desire has sent humanity and the natural world off the cliff, suspended in mid-air, and destined to fall. Russell offers that the strong connections forged between people in community as they grow, prepare and share food can soften what will otherwise be an unforgivingly hard landing.
Russell has a degree in economics from Bowdoin College and a Master’s in resource economics from the University of Maine. With his wife, Mary Anne, and three daughters, he operates the small diversified Three Sisters Farm in Mount Vernon. He served three years on the local school board, has chaired the town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee, and serves as a Selectman. He also writes poetry in his spare time. Russell’s first book, Balance: A Late Pastoral, was published in 2007.
Russell Libby (L) receiving the 2012 Sparkplug Award from Board Chair George Hatch.
The JMF board awarded the 2011 Sparkplug Award to Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, at its June meeting. Ceres is the leading coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to build sustainability into the capital markets and address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Ms. Lubber also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a network of more than 90 investors representing approximately $10 trillion in assets that coordinates US investor responses to the financial risks and opportunities of climate change.
In addition to her Sparkplug Award, Ms. Lubber is the recipient of the Skoll Social Entrepreneur Award and under her leadership, Ceres has been awarded Global Green USA’s 2009 Organizational Design Award and Fast Company Social Capitalist Awards in 2007 and 2008. She was recently voted one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Corporate Governance” by Directorship Magazine, who noted Ceres’ substantial influence in its field.
Before coming to Ceres, Ms. Lubber was the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Founder/CEO of Green Century Capital Management, an investment firm managing environmentally screened mutual funds.
The Sparkplug Award will enable Ceres to create a training, education and recognition program for its 60-member staff.
Michael Belliveau is the Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a nonprofit public health organization that promotes human health, safer chemicals and a sustainable economy based in Maine and working nationwide.
Mike is a public policy expert and social entrepreneur who’s recognized nationally for promoting environmental public health and green chemistry. For thirty years, he has advanced innovative policies and strategic organizing to prevent harm and develop a sustainable economy. Through Mike’s leadership of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, the State of Maine has set the national pace for protecting human health from unnecessary dangerous chemicals. He co-founded the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, which led the campaign that passed a landmark state law that requires safer chemicals in everyday products. Mike’s also a co-founder and policy coordinator of SAFER, the State Alliance for Federal Reform, a multi-state coalition working to overhaul chemical policy throughout the United States.
At the Strategy Center, Mike co-launched a model regional economic development strategy through the Sustainable Bioplastics Council of Maine. This innovative business-university-nonprofit consortium works to research, develop and commercialize production of bio-based plastics made from Maine potatoes. The manufacturing of this non-toxic, petroleum-free, and bio-compostable material will create good green jobs and boost Maine’s rural economy.
Previously, he led the most comprehensive mercury reduction campaign in the nation for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. In California, Mike directed Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), which he built into a powerful voice for urban environmental health and justice, and industrial pollution prevention. He was named by California Magazine as one of the people most likely to have a major impact on that state. He was appointed by then-Governor Jerry Brown to the California Hazardous Waste Management Council.
Mike grew up in New England and graduated from MIT with an environmental science degree. He lives with his family on Pushaw Lake in Maine on the edge of l’Acadie, the homeland to ten generations of his Acadian ancestors. When he’s not on the road, Mike loves to paddle or ski from his back door, or wander round the garden.
Rosanne Haggerty, founder and executive director of Common Ground in New York, is the third recipient of the Frank Hatch Award for Enlightened Public Service.
In 1990 Ms. Haggerty established Common Ground, a nonprofit housing development organization that provides innovative housing opportunities and community support for the homeless, disabled, and other marginalized groups. Common Ground has since become the preeminent supportive housing provider in the country, as well as a leading consultant on the problem of homelessness internationally.
Ms. Haggerty plans to use the award to advance the work of Common Ground, as well as that of Safe Harbors of the Hudson, a partner organization that enriches lives through the combination of affordable housing and arts-related community-building activities.
Gary Cohen, executive director of Environmental Health Fund and Health Care Without Harm in Boston is the second recipient of the Frank Hatch Award for Enlightened Public Service.
Mr. Cohen plans to use the award to advance the work at several of the organizations with which he is associated, including Health Care Without Harm and the Environmental Health Fund. In addition, the new startup firm Green Harvest Technologies, which is designed to create a market for plant-based plastics, will receive some assistance through the award.
“We are awakening to the reality that it is getting harder to support healthy people on a sick planet. We are also realizing there is no conflict between the environment and the economy – in fact, the economy of the 21st century needs to be a green economy,” Mr. Cohen said. “Over the next decade, we will need to transition from a petro-chemically based economy to one that is based on green chemistry, sustainable agriculture and global consciousness. I am happy to be a part of this life affirming transformation.”
Tiffany Bluemle, executive director of Vermont Works for Women in Essex Junction, has been named the first winner of the Frank Hatch Award for Enlightened Public Service by The John Merck Fund. Ms. Bluemle received the award at a June 6 ceremony in Boston to honor Mr. Hatch, who retired after nineteen years as the foundation's chairman.
Ms. Bluemle plans to apply the award to research and advocacy related to the Vermont Works for Women's programs with incarcerated women. "This award gives us an unusual opportunity to reflect and build on our work in strategic and creative ways, an unthinkable luxury for most nonprofits," she said.