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2021 Alnoba Environmental Leadership Award Recipients

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"I'm no longer accepting the things I cannot change... I'm changing the things I cannot accept." 

- Angela Davis


  • Alnoba Moral Courage in Leadership Award
  • Alnoba International Indigenous Leadership Award
  • Alnoba Emerging Entrepreneur Award
Recipients to be announced soon: 
  • Alnoba CEO Environmental Leadership Award
  • Alnoba Moment of Truth Award
Dear Friends,

We have always believed that strong leaders make stronger communities.  As we emerge from one of the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, the need for bold, brave leadership is more important than ever, especially in times of turbulence. We are very pleased to announce three of this year’s recipients of Alnoba Environmental Leadership Awards.   We are humbled and inspired by their example.

We are in the most urgent fight of our lives and are very fortunate to have courageous individuals to lead us. In 2018, we established the Alnoba Environmental Leadership Awards to honor those activist leaders who inspire each of us to act more bravely to help save the earth we share.

The 2021 recipients  confirm our bedrock belief that you can lead from anywhere.  They work in America’s inner cities, the Navajo Nation and in the Ecuadorian rain forest.   They share a passion to protect our planet and engage people who are often left behind.

Please join us in congratulating these inspiring leaders. We look forward to honoring them all on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at the Alnoba Leadership Awards Dinner.

Love and peace,
Alan and Harriet Lewis


Patricia Gualinga
President, Fundacion Tiam

Patricia Gualinga has worked for decades as a vital, internationally-recognized voice against oil extraction and destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. Patricia is an Indigenous rights defender of the Pueblo Kichwa de Sarayaku (Kichwa People of Sarayaku), an Indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Without their consent, communities in her area only learned that their land had been opened for oil exploration when strange helicopters arrived, followed by ‘men with guns’.  In  2012, Patricia was one of the representatives in a case presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in which the government was found guilty of rights violations and of authorizing oil exploration and militarization of Sarayaku lands without consulting the community.  It was an all too rare victory for Indigenous tribes.

Patricia describes recent times as “apocalyptic" for her village of 1350 people. The confluence of a massive oil spill, the pandemic and historical flooding have devastated her community. Yet despite everything, she persists and still holds hope because as she says, "there is so much to protect."

Along with being the president of Fundacion Tiam, Patricia is also actively involved with Women Defenders of the Amazon against Extraction and REPAM (Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network).  As with so many Indigenous leaders, her work is dangerous and Patricia has suffered attacks, threats and harassment.

Her courage inspires us and we stand with Patricia to demand justice. We are deeply indebted to her vital contribution and leadership around Indigenous rights and the protection of this Earth we share.



Janene Yazzie
Founder, Sixth World Solutions

Janene Yazzie is a powerful Native community activist. She is co-founder and CEO of Sixth World Solutions, which works with Dine’ (Navajo) communities to promote sustainability, environmental justice, and self-governance.  She co-founded the first Navajo Nation community-led watershed planning program to assert local control in the sustainable management, restoration, and protection of natural resources.

Janene will tell you she was born into this work and has built a career and life doing what she is most passionate about, “helping my people on frontline battle systemic injustice.”   And a big piece of her work is to get clean water to her tribe. 

The Navajo Nation is the size of Connecticut, and 30-40% of households do not have running water. For many households, water is their largest expense. The pandemic, severe drought conditions and a legacy of contamination including lead, magnesium, arsenic and even uranium create a perfect storm of need.

Because of her tireless work to bring water to her people, Janene knew even before the first case of COVID was diagnosed that it would devastate her community and that remote and vulnerable members would not be served. As Janene puts it, “You can’t wash your hands with bad water.” 

With other Native women they created an all-volunteer grassroots Indigenous-led group operating on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations, the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief, with Janene serving as the New Mexico lead.

Her work has earned international recognition. Janene is Sustainable Development Program Coordinator for the International Indian Treaty Council and the council’s representative as co-convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group of the U.N. High-Level Political Forum on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.



Donnel Baird
Founder, BlocPower

Donnel Baird is the founder of BlocPower, a clean tech startup based in New York City. His company aims to scale green energy across American inner cities by updating millions of older buildings while hiring from vulnerable populations. It’s a public benefit corporation—so it’s for-profit and focused on the bottom line but also committed to energy efficiency, renewable energy, greenhouse gas reductions, and economic development and job creation in low-income communities.

U.S. cities are packed with about 5 million medium-sized buildings such as schools, churches, community centers, apartment buildings. Most use significantly more energy than they should. Many also have poor airflow and dirty, out-of-date heating and electrical systems. Those conditions contribute to high inner-city asthma rates and other health concerns.

“These buildings are actually making children sick,” says Donnel Baird, who grew up in such a place. His parents, immigrants from Guyana, raised their kids in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, relying on a cooking stove for heat. 

In 2014, Baird launched BlocPower, which provides engineering and financial know-how to retrofit city buildings. Since its founding in 2014, the company has retrofitted more than 1,000 buildings in disadvantaged communities in New York City, with projects underway in 24 cities. BlocPower uses proprietary software for analysis, leasing, project management, and monitoring of clean energy projects that save customers between 20-70 percent on annual energy costs. But the financing is critical. BlocPower builds the case for each project and connects owners with lenders and the company is backed by some of the world’s top investors.



In life and in leadership we all face moments of truth. Daring leaders face the fire when things are raging hot, confront the tough issues and take decisive action. This award honors a woman activist leader who had the courage to raise the world’s attention to a big issue of our time, and rally allies and resources to make a real and lasting impact.

Do you know a woman leader who has faced a “moment of truth” and responded with courage and daring this year? We want to hear about it. Submit a nomination at by Monday June 21st. Alnoba will donate $10,000 to the nonprofit of the recipient’s


Please join us in congratulating these recipients. We will be honoring them at an awards dinner at Alnoba in Kensington, NH on October 13th, 2021.