Announcing 2012 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Award Winners

Nine inspiring community leaders were honored on January 23, 2013 at the Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards Ceremony. Group photo of 2012 SP Leadership Award winners at library ceremony

The awards ceremony took place at the Princeton Public Library as a kick off to the Princeton Environmental Film Festival.  Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and Matt Wasserman, Chairman of Sustainable Princeton and the Princeton Environmental Commission, hosted the event.

This year’s awardees represent a diverse group, ranging from a seventeen year old who built his own electric car to a life long advocate for sustainability and the environment, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, a new category for 2012.

The 2012 Sustainable Princeton Award winners are:

  • Dr. Stephanie Chorney, Citizen Activist, is unstoppable.  She is a working pediatrician, a parent, the Community Park Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization President and the co-chair of Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Coalition. Her passions include all types of recycling, gardens and healthy food for our school cafeterias.  Stephanie is the kind of person who chooses to go to public meetings just to be sure the sustainable viewpoint is heard.  Her ability to ask the hard questions of any group makes her an invaluable addition to Princeton’s sustainability efforts.  Last year, Stephanie helped organize the first ever recycling effort at Communiversity and even followed the Public Works truck to make sure the recycling was taken where it was meant to go. We look forward to working with Stephanie Chorney for years to come.
  • John Emmons, Science Teacher,has been the science teacher at Community Park Elementary School for five years.  During that time, he has transformed the once barren grassy areas of the school into beautiful and functional gardens.  Using the gardens as his classroom, Mr. Emmons teaches about soil, sun, planting, cultivating crops, life cycles and much more.  He has worked tirelessly to help establish and maintain four gardens at Community Park and one at Littlebrook Elementary School which include an edible garden, an herb garden, a prairie, a colonial garden and an alphabet garden.  His leadership and vision have ensured students have an opportunity to put their hands in the soil, plant, grow and enjoy the fruits and vegetables of their labor. John Emmons brings environmentalism to life for our elementary age children and the entire school community.
  • Martha Friend, Science Teacher, is constantly finding new ways for Littlebrook Elementary students, families and staff to become more knowledgeable caretakers of the world around them.  She is a creative and dedicated teacher whose excitement about her subjects is infectious.  On top of her classroom responsibilities, Ms. Friend oversees the stewardship of Littlebrook’s Nature Trail and the Littlebrook School Garden – outdoor classrooms that are resources for the entire school community.  Martha uses the trail extensively to teach everything from decomposition to why we need to protect native species.  She uses the garden as the basis for lessons from plant reproductive strategies to the environmental impact of eating local versus imported foods.  In addition, she sets an example for others by turning off lights, cutting down on paper use and composting.  We honor Martha Friend for her passion and dedication to teaching our children and the school community about why caring for our environment is critical now and in the future.
  • Robert Hrabchak, Student, Princeton Day School,  is the youngest award winner this year, and recently completed a yearlong independent project to convert a non drivable car that runs on fossil fuels/gasoline into an all electric vehicle which he will soon be driving carbon free around Princeton!  Robert has chronicled the importance of moving away from fossil fuels on his blog, in the Princeton Packet and on a YouTube video.  His goal is to continue to spread the word about the benefits of driving electric cars on our environment as well as our economy. We congratulate Robert Hrabchack for being a model of sustainable action for people young and old in our community.
  • Jack Morrison, President, JM Group, owner Nassau Seafood, Blue Point Grill is a local resident, a business owner and a developer who also cares about trash, recycling and creating a strong and vibrant community.  He was instrumental in bringing the Princeton Farmers Market to Hinds Plaza and is the person who can be relied on to keep Hinds Plaza trash free.  JM Group staff, not Municipal staff, empty the trash and recycle bins in this public space two to three times daily to ensure it remains an attractive and clean town center.  Mr. Morrison has also been very active in numerous nonprofit groups in town including organizing fundraising for the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts.Over the past 26 years, JM Group has expanded from Nassau Street Seafood to include Nassau St Caterers, Blue Point Grill and Witherspoon Grill. We look forward to working with Jack Morrison to ensure the entire town recycles in 2013
  • Stu Orefice, Princeton University Dining Services Director, is always ready with a yes to any plan that matches town and gown.  He has supported the Princeton School Gardens Cooperative since its inception and worked closely with this nonprofit to bring his chefs into the public schools to cook and share healthy food.  On campus, he developed and opened Cafe Vivian, a “green café” serving only products that are organic, local, humanely raised and/or socially just. In the fall of 2012, Princeton University Dining Services led by Mr. Orefice, organized the "Community Dinner Under the Stars" to benefit Corner House in Princeton.  Dining services provided a locally sourced dinner for 350 high school students and community members. Stu Orefice's work is a perfect example of how sustainability can bring a community together
  • Bill Sachs, Tree Expert. Trees are a precious commodity in Princeton and Bill Sachs has been quietly and voluntarily tending to many of them for the past three years. Princeton and the rest of the Eastern U.S. are losing several important tree species to disease, insects and a rapidly changing climate.  To counter these challenges, Bill has acquired disease-resistant tress and worked with the Municipality to plant them in parks and preserves around Princeton.  His vigilance and dedication was best shown last summer when he planted new trees just before a serious drought hit the area.  Rather than give in to the heat, he was seen regularly dragging buckets of water to ensure the trees survived, which they did!  We thank Bill Sachs for his quiet and unsung efforts to preserve and revitalize our trees in Princeton.
  • Grace Sinden, Life Time Achievement Award winner, has spent the past 42 years working to advance environmental and sustainability issues in Princeton as well as in the state of New Jersey.  Grace has been described as a citizen activist who recognizes the link between a clean environment and a healthy and just community.  Her knowledge of the ins and outs of public interest lobbying has been described as comprehensive, tireless and holistic.  Ms. Sinden served on the Princeton Environmental Commission for 13 years and worked for a decade on remediating hazardous waste in the State of New Jersey. She has been a model to many aspiring environmental advocates throughout her career, beginning with her legislative work with the League of Women Voters in the 1970s up to the preservation of the Princeton Ridge and then Avalon Bay this past year.  Her passion and detailed tactics have repeatedly been successful in passing environmental ordinances and initiatives that continue to improve our town.  We are honored to present our first Sustainable Princeton Lifetime Achievement Award to Grace Sinden.
  • William A. Wolfe, Architect, is an all around sustainable citizen. Not only is his work focused on sustainable architecture and building but he lives in a home that uses sun and water for heating and cooling through solar panels and geothermal energy.  He is also an active volunteer, chairing the town’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board, and a member of the MRRO Zoning Task Force. While his knowledge of sustainable issues is vast, he recently returned to Princeton University to audit two courses in Environmental Science. William Wolfe is a resident who lives his work and models a sustainable lifestyle for so many of us in the community.

The Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards are sponsored by Sustainable Princeton with support from the Princeton Environmental Commission. Each year a call for nominations is issued to help us identify Princeton’s best, brightest and greenest businesses, residents, teachers, school administrators, government employees, religious leaders and any others that are leading the way toward a sustainable Princeton. A volunteer review team comprised of representatives from each of these areas chooses the finalists.  (For lists of previous winners, see our 2011 SPLA and 2010 SPLA posts.)

Sustainable Princeton’s goals for the town of Princeton are to reduce energy use from fossil fuels, 20 percent by 2020 and to reduce waste by 50 percent by 2016.

For more information, contact Diane Landis or Andrea Malcolm, or visit us at One Monument Drive (former Borough Hall).