Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GASP Unveils Michelle Madoff Award of Environmental Excellence Honorees in Advance of 50th Anniversary Gala
PITTSBURGH – The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) today announced the recipients of its Michelle Madoff Award of Environmental Excellence, which honors five outstanding women currently working to improve the environment of southwestern Pennsylvania.
A panel of judges composed of GASP staff and board members selected the winners of the award—named after the organization’s founder and first president—from a pool of candidates nominated for consideration in five categories: business, community organizing, education, media, and medicine.
“GASP was fortunate to receive many excellent nominations,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. “The women who’ve been named Michelle Madoff Award of Environmental Excellence awardees truly represent the best of the best when it comes to environmental stewardship.”
The award winners include:
Laura Nettleton for the business award, which honors the owner, manager, or sustainability coordinator for a local business. She is the owner of Thoughtful Balance, a Pittsburgh-based architectural firm specializing in resilient and low-energy design. During her career, which spans more than 30 years, Nettleton discerned the ever-developing demand for sustainable, efficient homes “before this important niche of the residential market had so evolved.” Ranging from the 2014 North American Passive House Conference, San Francisco, CA, to the 2016 Passive House Conference in Darmstadt, Germany, her speaking engagements confirm her wide recognition as a leader in architectural innovation who has materially influenced the evolution of this growing market segment. Nettleton, who earned an undergraduate degree in arts/psychology/art history at the Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon, was called a pioneer by her nominators.
Eva Resnick-Day for the community organizing award, which celebrates a woman who brings people together in the fight for a healthy environment. She currently serves as a community organizer with the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, which aims to bring the City of Pittsburgh to 100 percent renewable, clean energy through a path that centers on equity and meets the concerns of the area’s most vulnerable communities—as well as the workers who are, or will be, impacted by an energy transition. Resnick-Day’s involvement in the environmental movement dates back to 2010, when she worked as an organizer for a city-wide fracking ban. She worked with Greenpeace prior to her tenure at Sierra Club. She said she’s “thrilled to be fighting for a brighter future for Pittsburgh.” When she’s not out trying to make the world a better place, the Taylor Allderdice alumna can be found singing and mountain climbing. Resnick-Day, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh, was called a “force of nature” by nominators.
Patricia Himes for the education award, which lauds a woman who helps connect people with nature. She currently serves as a naturalist educator at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, and can typically be found in parks, streams, woodlands, and meadows helping kids connect with nature. After all, she discovered one of her true loves—nature—playing in Clarion County’s forests and streams growing up. Himes earned an undergraduate degree in biology to further her understanding of nature, and then a master’s degree in education to help her share her “love and curiosity of the diverse, beautiful, magical world.” She was called a game-changer by nominators.
Kristina Marusic for the media award, which honors a female member of the media who shares important news about the state of the environment. A reporter for Environmental Health News, she covers issues related to environmental health and justice, with a focus on western Pennsylvania. Prior to her tenure there, Marusic worked as a freelance journalist covering issues such as social and environmental justice, activism, politics, and LGBTQ equality. Her bylines appeared in myriad media outlets, including the Washington Post, CNN, Slate, Vice, and MTV News. Marusic earned her undergraduate degree in creative writing from Hofstra University and her master’s degree in creative nonfiction writing from San Francisco University. Nominators mentioned her investigative project “Breathless,” which dug into data on childhood asthma and air pollution revealing a regional epidemic: While the national average for childhood asthma is 8 percent, around 22 percent of kids in Pittsburgh’s most polluted neighborhoods have the disease. Her nominators called Marusic fearless.
Dr. Deborah Gentile for the medicine award, which celebrates a medical professional who helps connect symptoms to possible environmental causes. She currently serves as medical director at Allergy and Asthma Wellness Centers and Director of Allergy and Asthma Services at East Suburban Pediatrics. She completed medical school, pediatric residency and allergy/immunology fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. She previously worked at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Health Network and Pediatric Alliance, respectively. Her recent research efforts have focused on evaluating asthma outcomes and triggers in disparate children from the Pittsburgh Region. Her work identified a strong association between exposure to elevated levels of outdoor air pollution and increased asthma prevalence and poor disease control in these children. She currently has funding from the Heinz Endowments to support this work. Dr. Gentile has authored more than 60 publications and is the recipient of numerous awards for her research efforts. She is a past president of the local and state allergy societies and is a member of numerous professional organizations. Nominators called her work life-changing.
Full bios for the winners can be viewed here.
These outstanding women will be honored at GASP’s 50th Anniversary gala, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at the historic Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland. The event will also feature live music, food and drinks, and a silent auction. Tickets are $80 a person or $150 a couple and can be purchased online here. All proceeds benefit GASP’s legal, educational, and advocacy endeavors.
“Turning 50 is really significant,” Filippini said. “GASP has done so much over the past five decades to help improve the region’s air quality. We can’t wait to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished with our friends and supporters, and look forward to another 50 years of making a difference.”
GASP is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit citizens’ group in southwestern Pennsylvania working for a healthy, sustainable environment. Founded in 1969, GASP has been a diligent watchdog, educator, litigator, and policy-maker on many environmental issues, with a focus on air quality in the Pittsburgh region.