Sierra Club California Honors Water Warrior Volunteers with Leadership Awards

  • Posted on 4 November 2019
  • By mmendez

Once a year, we get the chance to recognize those volunteer leaders that have made a difference in fighting for the environment here in California. The Leadership Awards are our opportunity to show our appreciation to the individuals that have spent countless hours working on issues that Sierra Club holds dear.

There were a number of names submitted with very impressive backgrounds, and after careful consideration, The Sierra Club's California Awards Committee made its selections for the Sierra Club California Leadership Awards recipients. Congratulations to the honorees! including our Chapter Director, George Watland who received the Mary Ferguson Award, and a special recognition going to all the Angeles Chapter Water Warrior volunteers who were awarded this year: Dr. Clyde Tom Williams Ph.D., Nadia Wilson, and Toshiro Tokunaga. 


Deirdre Des Jardins & Dr. Clyde Tom Williams PhD

Deirdre and Tom worked tirelessly to defeat the proponents of California WaterFix through science and the judicial system. They discovered that the engineering of the tunnels would not withstand an earthquake and brought that to the attention of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on the State level and through the judicial system, testifying for many hours and many months. Deirdre dutifully sent in reports to CNRCC WatCom on a daily basis, while Tom traveled back and forth from Los Angeles to Sacramento to testify. On the local level, we were able to use their sound scientific research to punch holes into the narrative being sold by Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles and challenge the sustainability and reliability of the Twin Tunnels project known as California WaterFix. Their combined research forced DWR to return to the drawing board and hire a new engineering team to work out the problems, which put the project on hold for a while and provided us with a short victory. Even the engineer they hired to debunk Deirdre's and Tom's research could not find holes in their report. Their work enabled us to approach our opposition with a new angle, one that they could not so readily dismiss. A report based on fact, not fiction.


Nadia Wilson

As a 4th grade student at Vintage STEM Magnet Elementary, Nadia built a sustainable garden the size of a classroom, now called "The Hope Garden." This garden is a sustainable, drought-resistant green space. Done by Nadia and her family as a Grades of Green Eco Leadership project, the Hope Garden is more than a garden. It is a place that encourages kids to wonder and learn about nature. Last year, Nadia and her sister were proud to donate 26 pounds of pumpkin from the Hope garden to the MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) Food Pantry. She is currently involved in the Ecoclub at her new middle school, promoting Monarch environments and educating about Monarchs.  Nadia is also an active hiker and backpacker. She has summited Mt. Whitney and has backpacked and camped in the local mountains. Angeles Chapter and represents recognition of significant work in conservation.
Toshiro Tokunaga
Toshiro, who started with the Water Committee has made a big difference on the Angeles Chapter. He later joined the Communication Committee, where he has ramped up the volunteer recruitment program by posting volunteer opportunities on Clubvolunteer and following up with any matches. He has also set up weekly reviews with volunteers and with chapter staff to review story topics that should be addressed for chapter outreach (newsblog, Southern Sierran eNewsletter and SoCal Now print publication) Toshiro follows up with volunteers accepting assignments and helps them to stay on schedule. Toshiro has been guiding the development of a media management system to coordinate with the Camera Committee on using member photos that required copy write acknowledgment. Toshiro is passionate about conservation and sustainability issues and is constantly active with them.
SALLY AND LES REID AWARD recognizes an individual who has served Sierra Club California in the area of conservation. The award is named for two of our most distinguished and effective activists. In addition to serving on the Sierra Club Board of Directors, both Sally and Les were instrumental in developing the club in a new area - Sally with forestry issues in Southern California forests, and Les in developing connections with organized labor. Sally Reid died in 2002, after a long illness.
EMERGING LEADER AWARD may be given to a volunteer member under the age of 30 who has shown outstanding promise through their actions contributing to the efforts of the Club in conservation, politics, environmental justice or membership development. This person must have been a member of the Club for more than one year and their actions and involvement must have demonstrated that they are likely to be a contributing member for years to come.
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