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Recipients of South Coast AQMD's 34th Annual Clean Air Awards

2024 Program & Award Recipients

Autumn Robertson joined the Spectrum News 1 SoCal team as a meteorologist in August 2022. A true Georgia Peach, Autumn grew up in Atlanta. When she was just four years old, she rode the “Twister” movie ride for the first time at Universal Studios. At first, she was terrified, but her fear evolved into fascination with severe weather. This fascination led her to the University of Miami (Go Canes!) where she studied meteorology and broadcast journalism. After college, Autumn headed west to work in Medford, Oregon as a meteorologist and reporter at KTVL, a local CBS affiliate. Oregon is where she got her first taste of microclimate forecasting and wildfires. She then headed back to Florida to work as a meteorologist at WTSP, a local CBS affiliate in Tampa. Working through two of the most active hurricane seasons on record, Autumn got a heavy dose of tropical forecasting experience. When Autumn is not working, you can find her trying to harmonize to random songs on the radio, strolling aimlessly through a farmer's market, or stuffing her face with the greatest food the area has to offer.
Tim Kepler was born in Riverside, California and has been singing and composing since age 14. Tim is a Gospel recording artist currently leading worship at New Hope Church in Clovis, CA. He is also the principal National Anthem performer for the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Angels.
In 2022, Paul Krekorian was unanimously elected by his fellow Councilmembers to serve as President of the Los Angeles City Council. First elected to the Council in the closing weeks of 2009, this December he will complete his 15th and final year as a member of the Los Angeles City Council. As a Councilmember, he took the lead in ending oil and gas drilling in Los Angeles and initiated the City’s LA100 drive to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035. As a member of both METRO and Metrolink boards, he brought electric buses to the Metro Orange (G) Line and is a champion of the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail and Sepulveda Transit Corridor projects, while Metrolink has converted to 100 percent renewable fuel. As Council President, he is leading the City’s drive towards carbon-free utilities in all new building construction. As a member of the California State Assembly, he introduced legislation that restricted plastic pollution in ocean run-off, expanded renewable energy generation for California public utilities, and reduced carbon emissions. This work helped pave the way for California’s forward-thinking sustainability and air quality initiatives. Before serving in elected office he enjoyed a successful 20-year career as an attorney in the private sector.
As the esteemed U.S. Representative for California's 25th District, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D has made remarkable achievements that demonstrate his commitment to addressing environmental challenges and improving air quality and the health of residents in the South Coast region. Congressman Ruiz’s experience as an emergency medicine physician in Coachella Valley, seeing first-hand the impacts of air pollution on the health of residents, combined with his pivotal role in securing federal investments through the historic Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, showcases his proactive approach to promoting sustainable technologies and exemplary leadership in improving quality of life. As a driving force advocating for projects aimed at cleaning up the Salton Sea and the passage of the Environmental Justice Act, his dedication to protecting local communities from potential negative health and environmental impacts is inspiring.     Congressman Ruiz stands out as a champion for the environment, taking substantial actions to minimize his carbon footprint and advance green initiatives.  He has worked advantageously with others on securing grant funding and infrastructure investments for his district, emphasizing clean energy alternatives, green job creation, and environmental remediation. These priorities align with the priorities and needs of local environmental justice communities.  
On April 23, 2021, Rob Bonta was sworn in as the 34th Attorney General of the State of California, the first person of Filipino descent and the second Asian-American to occupy the position. Attorney General Bonta's passion for justice and fairness was instilled in him by his parents, who served on the frontlines of some of America's most important social justice movements. It's why he decided to become a lawyer — to help right historic wrongs and fight for people who have been harmed. He worked his way through college and graduated with honors from Yale University and attended Yale Law School. Attorney General Bonta has led statewide fights for racial, economic, and environmental justice and worked to further the rights of immigrant families, renters, and working Californians. He previously worked as a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, where he represented the City and County and its employees, and fought to protect Californians from exploitation and racial profiling. He went on to pursue elected office in Alameda County, first as an Alameda Council Member and later as an Assemblymember representing Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. In the State Assembly, Attorney General Bonta enacted nation-leading reforms to inject more justice and fairness into government and institutions. As the People's Attorney, he sees seeking accountability from those who abuse their power and harm others as one of the most important functions of the job. He is married to Mia Bonta, and they are the proud parents of three children Reina, Iliana, and Andres, as well as their dog Legolas.
Emily has distinguished herself at an early age through her commitment to air quality and climate initiatives. Her long-standing dedication to environmental sustainability began in high school when she was appointed to serve as the commissioner representing youth voices on her city’s Natural Resources and Environmental Commission. She has since supported various regional initiatives through work with South Coast AQMD, Southern California Association of Governments, as a volunteer for API Forward Movement’s Clean Air San Gabriel Valley campaign, and as a CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow in the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. Emily is currently a Community Water Planner, where she supports multi-benefit climate projects across the nation. She also serves as a Commissioner on Los Angeles County’s Youth Climate Commission and as Vice Chair of the City of South Pasadena’s Natural Resources and Environmental Commission. In these roles, Emily advises on environmental policies and inspires community members to advocate for a more sustainable future.
Schneider National, Inc. in collaboration with partners of the Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative (JETSI) project have taken a pioneering step in the transportation industry by being one of the first and largest carriers to implement a large-scale battery electric vehicle (BEV) fleet, consisting of nearly one hundred units. By incorporating these zero-emission trucks into their operations, Schneider is making remarkable progress towards a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 7.5% per mile by 2025, and an impressive 60% per mile reduction by 2035. Additionally, the electric charging depot established at the South El Monte Intermodal Operations Center has greatly enhanced the accessibility of vehicle recharging, facilitating the expansion of sustainable fleet operations.    Schneider technological practices encompass advanced routing and planning technology to optimize its transportation routes. They remain committed to collaborating with environmental agencies and regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with emissions standards and environmental regulations. Their commitment to sustainability embraces clean technology in reducing the company’s environmental footprint.  
The University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering - Center for Environmental Research & Technology (CE-CERT) is a leading force in tackling air quality challenges. Their research spans understanding emissions’ effects on air quality to advancing renewable energy technologies. CE-CERT focuses on five key research areas: Renewable Energy & Biofuels, Emissions from Vehicles and other Sources, Transportation Systems, Pollution Formation in the Atmosphere, and Exposure and Health Effects. CE-CERT’s research programs have made significant contributions, from quantifying and mitigating on- and off-road emissions to understanding and controlling secondary pollutant formation in the atmosphere, developing and deploying clean energy technologies, and addressing climate change and other environmental challenges. As part of these programs, CE-CERT has helped pioneer the development and real-world deployment of a range of technologies that reduce emissions and protect the environment. For over 30 years, CE-CERT has continued to proudly serve as a model for partnerships between industry, government, and academia and has brought together faculty and students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines in pursuit of the knowledge needed to achieve environmental sustainability. Thanks to their dedicated efforts, they are nurturing the minds of our future scientists, researchers, and engineers who will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of innovation and progress in our society.
Monica Rodriguez made history on July 1, 2017, becoming the third Latina to serve on the Los Angeles City Council. Representing the 7th Council District, where she has lived her entire life, Councilwoman Rodriguez’s advocacy is deeply rooted in her first-generation experience and family history. Her commitment to ensuring equitable access for disenfranchised communities stems from a belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. As Councilwoman, Monica has brought her tenacious, innovative, and results-oriented leadership style to City Hall, bringing a new sense of urgency to tackle the city’s most pressing issues. As an advocate for clean air and environmental justice, Councilwoman Rodriguez has amplified community voices to advocate regarding Whiteman Airport and with increasing green space in her district. Since taking office, she’s continued to deliver increased investment and expanded city services to a district that had been under-resourced for decades. As Chair of MRCA’s Upper Los Angeles Rivers & Tributaries, she led the creation of a regional plan, creating a recreation and conservation blueprint for increasing access to over 1.53 million residents currently residing in park-poor communities. Through collaboration with stakeholders, including community members and government agencies, Councilwoman Rodriguez prioritizes sustainable solutions and empowers communities to effectively address environmental challenges. Councilwoman Rodriguez received her Bachelor of Arts from Occidental College.

Award Recipients

In 1989, the South Coast AQMD hosted the first annual Clean Air Awards and recognized outstanding businesses, organizations, municipalities, and individuals who have championed the southland's fight for clean air. Since then, nearly 300 Clean Air Heroes have been awarded for their efforts to clean the air. Each year, awards are presented in five categories which include Air Pollution Technology, Innovative Transportation Projects, Model Community Achievements, Promotion of Good Environmental Stewardship, and Public Education on Air Quality Issues. In addition to the five awards presented each year, the South Coast AQMD honors two faithful clean air advocates by presenting the Robert M. Zweig, M.D. Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award and S. Roy Wilson Memorial Award for Leadership in Government.

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