Green Blue Jay Awards recognize sustainability champions

Awards honor Johns Hopkins community members who have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability principles and action

The Office of Sustainability honored a new selection of Johns Hopkins community members who have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability principles and action on Monday during a virtual 2020 Green Blue Jay Awards ceremony.

The awards, held annually as a part of the university's Earth Week celebrations, honor those who have contributed to sustainability-related dialogue and action in the areas of peer engagement, operational improvements, events and programming, and academics. This year's event was conducted via Zoom, with keynote remarks by Ellen MacKenzie, dean of the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health. Elizabeth Stuart, professor and associate dean for education at the Bloomberg School, presented four awards.

Award recipients include:

Lisa Egan

As a senior project manager in the division of facilities and real estate, Egan has ensured waste reduction initiatives and operations are integrated from the beginning of design and construction projects. Egan was awarded the Change From Within Award, recognizing an individual who demonstrates leadership in transforming practices and protocols, with wide-ranging university impacts.

Kristin Hanson

Hanson, senior associate director for the Johns Hopkins Office of Development Communications in donor and volunteer engagement, was honored for her work with the San Martin Center Green Team, sharing sustainability articles with fellow members to help everyone stay up-to-date and educated on pressing sustainability topics. She was awarded the Spirit of Sustainability Award, recognizing an individual who demonstrates unique enthusiasm for sustainability.

Anne Colgan

Colgan was awarded Faculty Member of the Year, which recognizes an individual who incorporates sustainability principles and priorities into their course curriculum. As a teacher of professional writing and communications for international students, Colgan has integrated an environmental lens into her curriculum by requiring students' final projects to be focused around topics such as waste reduction and diversion and global water challenges.


For their work launching Hopkins' sustainable hackathon in April 2019, this organization was awarded Student Group of the Year. GreenHacks was started last year by undergraduate students seeking to offer a competitive platform for ideas that could spark innovation and sustainable solutions.

Irena Gorski Steiner

Steiner, a PhD candidate in environmental health and engineering at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, has been named the first Graduate Student of the Year. Steiner was honored based on her research and academic work, as well as her initiative in launching the Hopkins Eco-Collective.

David Yaffe

A 1974 graduate and former president of the Alumni Association, Yaffe has been named the first Alum of the Year. Yaffe has practiced and taught law with an emphasis on energy regulatory and contract law and has lectured on energy law at George Washington University for more than 10 years. He also serves as the sole alum on the Sustainability Leadership Council on the Engagement and Operations subcommittees.

Seniors of the Year

  • Alex Walinskas, an environmental studies major who graduated in Dec. 2019, helped plan the 2018 Food Justice Picnic, led the events committee for the Students for Environmental Action, and served as an intern for the Office of Sustainability.

  • Bela Garces is an environmental studies major who served on the executive board of Real Food at Hopkins, worked as an intern for the Office of Sustainability, and was a Hopkins ambassador for the Baltimore Intercollegiate Alliance.

  • Bridget Chen, a graduating neuroscience and German double major, and Chanel Lee, a neuroscience and French double major, received the Ten by Twenty Idea Lab sustainability grant for their organization WINGS, which aims to improve menstrual health and equity in Baltimore, while providing alternatives to single-use menstrual products.

  • Tom Howard, a graduating environmental health and engineering student, has been honored for his work with Engineers Without Borders, Model UN, and GreenHacks. Howard is a student representative on the Sustainability Leadership Council, and an environmental management intern for Geosyntec Consultants.

  • Jonah Kasdan is a global environmental change and sustainability and international studies double major. Kasdan is a prominent member of Students for Environmental Action and serves as an Eco-Rep through the Office of Sustainability.

  • Colin Bowen, an applied math and statistics major, has been involved in sustainability efforts throughout Hopkins, including Refuel Our Future and the Sustainability Leadership Council's Academic Subcommittee.

Above and Beyond

  • Susan Soohoo is a recipient of the Above and Beyond award recognizing a JHU community member who has demonstrated the strongest commitment to campus sustainability efforts. Soohoo, administrative coordinator for Johns Hopkins' Mind/Brain Institute, is honored for her attempts to identify materials for donation and sorting items for proper recycling.

  • Curtis Brown, director of construction, space, and planning for student affairs, is the second Above and Beyond recipient. Curtis is a staunch supporter of the Hop Reuse Hub, Hopkins' furniture reuse program, recommending the Hub for many of his projects and clients, and donating furniture inventory.

Sean Taverna

Taverna, an associate professor in the Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences Department and Oncology Department at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was named Sustainable Sourcer, a new award recognizing individuals who have made substantial efforts to purchase supplies and materials on behalf of Johns Hopkins.

Partner of the Year

  • Constellation Energy, a Baltimore-based energy company, will provide 250,000 megawatt hours of solar energy for Johns Hopkins annually. Because of the partnership with Constellation, Johns Hopkins will be on track to meet its goal of reducing 51% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

  • Johns Hopkins' Institute for NanoBioTechnology has been named the second Partner of the Year. Gina Wadas and Christine Duke are recognized for their green efforts with the organization, engaging and educating their colleagues, and completing the Green Office Certification Checklist.

Ben Hobbs

Hobbs, a professor in the Environmental Health and Engineering Department, has been named this year's Sustainability Champion, an award which recognizes a long-time partner and supporter of sustainability projects, programming, education, advocacy and/or research at Johns Hopkins University. His efforts include launching and directing Johns Hopkins' former Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institute and chairing the President's Task Force on Climate Change, which initiated Johns Hopkins' greenhouse gas goal and Climate Change Implementation Plan in 2009. Ben has continued to provide invaluable support and input for the Office of Sustainability and the new Sustainability Leadership Council.