Press Releases

Aaron Mair Receives Fitzwater Medallion for Leadership in Communication

Delivers Keynote Address on Environmental Justice, Climate Change at Franklin Pierce University

RINDGE, N.H. – Aaron Mair, Director of the Adirondack Council’s Forever Adirondacks Campaign will receive Franklin Pierce University’s Marlin Fitzwater Medallion for Leadership in Public Communication at a ceremony on the University’s Rindge Campus today in honor of his career as a conservation advocate and a pioneer in the environmental justice movement. 

“I am grateful to the students, faculty, and trustees of Franklin Pierce University for using the Fitzwater Medallion to assist in the fight to curb climate change and promote environmental justice,” said Mair.  “I hope their example encourages other leaders at institutions of higher education to embrace the need for climate action and social equity.  I thank them for recognizing my humble contribution to those noble causes and inviting me to share the afternoon with them, discussing the future.” 

The University is honoring Mair for his “pioneering work in environmental justice,” as well as public health, voting rights, and electoral racial disparities.  Mair’s four-decade career began as an activist in his hometown and led him on a path to become the first Black man to serve as president of the Sierra Club.  His career as a cartographic expert for the NY Dept. of Health sharpened skilled he used to defeat racially biased voting district maps in court and win back equal representation for Black voters in Albany.  

“The Fitzwater Center Medallion honors those who have demonstrated … a profound commitment to providing citizens with the information and tools they need to raise their voices in the public discourse that is the essential to our futures,” said Kristen Nevious, Ph.D., Director of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication in her letter urging Mair to accept the award.  “Our students, faculty, and Board of Trustees salute you with this Medallion.” 

“We cannot ignore the growing and desperate cacophony of those—disproportionately from communities of color and challenged economies--crying for help,” Nevious continued, “… as Arctic ice melts and water sources dry up, as swaths of the world suffer through record heat and are facing a future of weeks of 100-degree days. Earth is … facing a tipping point. You have been telling us this for decades, and if we haven’t already, we all need to stop and listen.” 

She cited Mair’s battle to close a state-owned trash incinerator that was polluting his Arbor Hill neighborhood in Albany as a fight to overcome the injustice of a plant that provided cheap energy to state buildings while polluting the air in a majority-Black community.  

“Then you made others’ fights your own: among them, cleaning up PCBs on the Hudson River, the Adirondack Green New Deal efforts, and stemming the leaking of oil into the Hudson from the failing Indian Point nuclear power plant,” she wrote. “Franklin Pierce University shares your priority on community service.” 

Earlier this year, the Franklin Pierce and the Fitzwater Center bestowed medallions on two other climate change leaders.  Stephen Lacey ’06, co-founder and Executive Producer of Post Script Media, and contributing editor for Greentech Media, was recognized with the Medallion for Leadership by an alumnus 

In recognition of the urgency of the issues facing our planet, a Medallion for Public Service was presented to both New Hampshire Public Radio climate change reporter Mara  Hoplamazian and the Environmental Justice reporting team of the Granite State News Collaborative.  

The 2022 recipient of the medallion for communication was Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN. 

Franklin Pierce University is an accredited private university in New Hampshire that achieves outstanding student success through the integration of liberal arts and professional programs. The University includes a 1,200-acre residential campus in Rindge, N.H, as well as centers in Manchester and Lebanon, NH, Goodyear, AZ, and Round Rock, TX. Students in the College of Business, the College of Health & Natural Sciences, and the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences earn degrees through the doctoral level in classroom-based and online programs.  

Marlin Fitzwater served as White House Press Secretary for six years (1987-93) under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  He is the longest-serving White House press secretary in history – the only person appointed to that post by two administrations. Fitzwater founded the Center for Communication at FPU in 2002. He is 80 years old. 

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.  

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States.

For more information: John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 


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