Office of Sustainability Newsroom


Riehm Award Goes to Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh

Monday June 4, 2012

JCTC joins Partnership for a Green City

The third annual Joan Riehm Environmental Leadership Award was presented today to 9th District Louisville Metro Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh for her outstanding leadership in the quest for a more sustainable future through the creation of the 9th District Green Triangle. The Green Triangle initiative began more than three years ago as a way for residents in the 9th District to go on line, create a profile and track their global footprint. The measurable outcomes are collected aggregately and used to quantify the impact and leverage funding.

Ward-Pugh received the award created by the Partnership for a Green City – a collaboration between original partners the University of Louisville, Louisville city government and Jefferson County Public Schools – plus Jefferson Community & Technical College which joined the partnership this year. The award honors Riehm, a former Louisville deputy mayor and a lifelong advocate of environmental and public partnership initiatives who died of cancer in 2008.

“Those of us in the public sector -- city government, public schools and universities -- not only create a large environmental footprint, but we also carry the responsibility to lead the way and set an example for the entire community” said Mayor Greg Fischer.

Councilwoman Ward-Pugh often apologizes for “not getting” what sustainability meant until the last decade and now, she’s making up for lost time. While she has been a long-time advocate for light rail and making room for multi modes of transportation, her big “aha moment” came while serving the past six years on the stakeholder group for complying with the EPA’s Consent Decree to clean city wastewater.

As a result, Ward-Pugh launched the Green Triangle in District 9 three years ago which attempts to harness, grow and quantify the organic movement happening in the district. It also lays the foundation for all decision-making out of the 9th District office to begin viewing them through a green lens.

“We tell prospective students that Louisville is a great place to study, play and live, in part, because it’s a ‘green’ city,” said UofL president Dr. James Ramsey. “Councilwoman Ward-Pugh exemplifies our city’s commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment.”

The Riehm Award recognizes a person or group that leads environmental sustainability efforts in the community. It is presented yearly and includes a $500 cash award. The first award was presented in 2010 to Larry Owsley of the University of Louisville. The 2011 award went to Mike Mulheirn of the Jefferson County Public Schools.

“Joan Riehm’s vision was to create a greener city,” said Michael Raisor, chief operations officer with Jefferson County Public Schools. “We continue her work with vigor and ingenuity, setting the standard for energy efficiency in our community and setting the example for the very lives we shape.”

“Jefferson has made a substantive commitment to sustainability at our colleges and in our community,” said Tony Newberry, Ph.D., president of Jefferson Community & Technical College. “Becoming the fourth member of the Partnership for a Green City, means the city’s four largest public entities are focused on this critical effort. We hope our momentum will help carry others.”

With the addition of JCTC, the four members of the Partnership collectively employ more than 27,500 people, enroll 135,000 students, own more than 531 buildings, operate and maintain 7,000 vehicles, and manage 25,135 acres of land in Louisville.

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Tina Ward-Pugh

Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh (D) was elected to the first Louisville Metro Council in November 2002, re-elected in 2006 and again in 2010. Ward-Pugh currently chairs the newly created Committee on Sustainability. She is also a member of the Government Accountability and Ethics Committee and the Public Safety Committee.

Known and respected for her bipartisan approach to problem-solving, Ward-Pugh’s leadership led to the unanimous adoption of a stronger Metro Louisville Code of Ethics after legislation stalled for nearly a year. Additionally, Ward-Pugh led the Metro Council to support a smoking ban in all public places, and was awarded “Public Policy Advocate of the Year” by Louisville Chapter of NAWBO for her work as well as Best Female Elected Official by Louisville Magazine.

Councilwoman Ward-Pugh is a passionate advocate for public parks, preservation of natural habitats as well as historic landmarks. A long time champion of social justice, Ward-Pugh was the primary sponsor for the creation of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the passage of the Fairness Ordinance guaranteeing equal rights to employment, housing and public accommodations for all Louisville citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These efforts resulted in Ward-Pugh’s receiving the Jefferson County Chapter of NASW “Social Worker of the Year” award.

Councilwoman Ward-Pugh has recently added environmental stewardship to her list of efforts in creating a truly sustainable community. She’s convened hundreds of local residents and business owners to create a Green Vision for the future, and developed a public/private partnership called Green Triangle to make the vision a reality. These efforts led to Ward-Pugh’s being recognized as Most Admired Political Woman by Today’s Woman magazine.

Councilwoman Ward-Pugh has a Masters degree in Social Work from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary majoring in non-profit administration, policy development and advocacy. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Belmont University. Ward-Pugh currently serves as Vice President of the National Order of Women Legislators. She serves on the board of directors for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, National Organization for Women, and the League of Women Voters.

Councilwoman Ward-Pugh recently joined EDGE Outreach as their Global Partnership Strategist, volunteering 30-35 hours a week. The important work that EDGE does by providing clean water around the world is remarkable not only for those engaged in the work, but for our community's future in being the Water Training and Resource Capital of the World.

About Joan Riehm

Joan Riehm dedicated her professional life to public service – to strengthening Louisville and its region. She worked primarily in the public sector, for the city of Louisville, the state of Kentucky and for Louisville Metro, helping create the newly merged city and county.

Her hallmarks were idealism, practical strategy and a positive personality that built partnerships and could create community collaboration toward the most ambitious goals.

Riehm was instrumental in developing the Partnership for a Green City, creating the

director’s position. She was a lifelong advocate for environmental issues and a passionate supporter of Brightside.

After voters approved government merger in 2002, Riehm co-chaired the Mayor’s merger transition team. In 2003, she joined Mayor Jerry Abramson’s administration as deputy mayor. She spoke to dozens of cities and groups around the country about Louisville’s experience with government merger, sharing insights on how to create efficient government partnerships.

In 2007, she retired as deputy mayor to become a private consultant and chairman of the Philadelphia-based Alliance for Regional Stewardship, a national organization that promotes regionalism and assists metropolitan areas with their efforts to collaborate.

Riehm spent more than three decades in communications and government service. She was a reporter and editor for The Courier-Journal, news editor for two weekly newspapers in the U.S. Virgin Islands and communications director for the Kentucky Department for Human Resources.

She was press secretary to Louisville’s mayor in the 1970s and deputy mayor from 1986 to 1996. In the private sector, she managed government relations for Humana Inc., operated her own consulting business in public issues management and communication and coordinated a 23-county Regional Leadership Coalition of area business leaders.

She co-founded the Leadership Kentucky program, now in its 25th year.

Riehm died at age 62 after losing a battle with cancer in 2008.


Partnership for a Green City

The Partnership for a Green City is the first of its kind in the country and represents a collaborative effort to improve sustainability internally and in the community by four of Louisville's largest public entities: Louisville Metro Government, University of Louisville, the Jefferson County Public Schools and Jefferson Community & Technical College. It began with three partners in August 2004, as a major step toward overcoming challenges to Louisville's environmental practices. JCTC joined the Partnership in 2012. Together, the partner agencies employ over 27,500 people, enroll 135,000 students, own more than 531 buildings, operate and maintain 7,000 vehicles, and manage 25,135 acres of land in Louisville Metro. Through the coordination of efforts and cooperation, the Partnership has been able to realize real results that will have long-term impact on the health, education, and well-being of our citizens while improving and institutionalizing environmental practices within the organizations themselves.