Mayor Fischer presents Councilman Tom Owen with Joan Riehm Memorial Environmental Leadership Award

June 03, 2016

Mayor Fischer has awarded the 2016 Joan Riehm Memorial Environmental Leadership Award to Councilman Tom Owen. The award, now in its seventh year, honors public service employees, volunteers or students who have gone to great lengths to make Louisville a clean, green and healthier place to live, work and play.

“Councilman Owen, like Joan Riehm, is a model public servant,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “For decades, he has not only advocated for but also led by example on issues like biking, recycling, reuse, historical preservation and more. It is very fitting that Tom receives this award and I know he will continue to champion environmental issues when he leaves his Metro Council seat.”

Councilman Owen will finish 13 years as a Metro Councilman this fall. Before winning a Metro Council seat in 2002, he served on the Louisville Board of Alderman from 1990-1998. Councilman Owen is also a full-time professor at the University of Louisville (UofL) and has been a history instructor, archivist and community relations associate at UofL since 1968.

"I am honored to stand in Joan Riehm's shadow,” Councilman Tom Owen said. “Our Earth has suffered such abuse that every day I'm challenged to walk on moccasin feet." 

Councilman Owen has previously been awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Louisville Historical League, the Outstanding University of Louisville Employee Award, an honorary membership in the Kentucky Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and a Patron Service Award at the University of Louisville Libraries

The Joan Riehm Memorial Environmental Leadership Award was created after Riehm's death from pancreatic cancer in 2008. Riehm became the first female deputy mayor for the city of Louisville in 1985. She left government 10 years later to serve as a consultant specializing in public issues management and communication, but returned to city government in 2002 to co-chair the merger transition team. Riehm later initiated Metro government's inclusion in the Partnership for a Green City, 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 (UofL), Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), and Jefferson Community & Technical College (JCTC).  

Past recipients of the Joan Riehm Memorial Environmental Leadership Award include citizen volunteer Mike Hayman, retired JCPS teacher Darleen Horton, JCTC Business Manager Pamela Dumm, former Metro Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, former JCPS Director of Facilities and Environmental Services Michael Mulheirn, and former UofL Vice President of Business Affairs Larry L. Owsley.

For more information on Partnership for the Green City, please visit 

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