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Tom Steyer receives OSI's 2015 Land Conservation Award at annual luncheon

NEW YORK, NY — October 21, 2015 — The Open Space Institute (OSI) presented philanthropist and business leader Tom Steyer with the 2015 Land Conservation Award, honoring him for his ground-breaking leadership in promoting clean energy and forward-looking climate policy.

More than 300 people gathered to honor Steyer at OSI’s Annual Luncheon, held Wednesday at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. 

“For over four decades, the Open Space Institute has been on the frontlines of the fight to leave the planet a better place for our kids—and I am proud to receive this award,” Steyer said. “Putting our society and our economy on a sustainable path is critical for our country, and OSI is uniquely positioned to work with partners across the political spectrum to build a broader-based understanding of where we need to go.”

“Tom Steyer is an inspiration to the entire environmental community. His expansive record of achievement and leadership, particularly with regard to climate initiatives, is creating an enduring legacy for which we are all extraordinarily grateful,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “As an organization committed to preserving important natural landscapes and the critical resources they protect, we are honored to celebrate Tom Steyer’s tremendous achievements and bestow upon him this year’s OSI Land Conservation Award.”

Tom McHenry, partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and a member of the firm’s Environment and Natural Resources Practice Group, presented the award.

Steyer is a national business leader, philanthropist and clean energy advocate. Before retiring from the private sector, he founded and was the Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management.

Steyer is actively engaged in climate politics through his NextGen Climate political organization, and works to promote economic prosperity and environmental protection in California and across the country. In 2010, he teamed up with former Secretary of State George Shultz to defeat Proposition 23, an effort by out-of-state oil companies to dismantle California’s groundbreaking clean energy law, AB 32. In 2012, Steyer served as co-chair with Shultz for Yes on Proposition 39, which closed a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations and created jobs in California.

Also at the luncheon, OSI announced the five recipients of the Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Awards, funded by an endowment raised by OSI to honor its Trustee, Barney McHenry. The annual awards recognize exceptional young leaders working in support of the Hudson River Valley.

Since creating the awards in 2007, OSI has invested nearly $230,000 in the future of the region, supporting 33 grantees in the fields of environmental conservation, historic preservation, the arts and tourism.

The 2015 recipients of the McHenry Awards are:

• Michael Meehan, a Masters candidate at Yale School of Environment and Forestry Studies, partnered with the agricultural nonprofit Glynwood. There he created a toolkit to improve matching between the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network’s partners, landowners and farmers, and available agricultural lands.

• Julia Czarnecki and Marissa Porter worked with Marist College, where they are Environmental Science majors, to organize a series of public seminars on leadership in sustainability, spreading knowledge about best practices and educating the local public on environmental practices.

• Tashae K. Smith, a History major at Manhattanville College, collaborated with the college to research, interpret and present to local and academic communities the history of enslaved and indentured African-American labor in the physical construction of the city of Newburgh, New York, with a particular focus on the period from the Revolutionary War to 1840.

• Sheena Zhang, enrolled at a dual Masters program at Yale’s schools of Architecture and Forestry & Environmental Studies, partnered with Newburgh Community Land Bank to develop a food hub that incorporates regional farm products and incubates start-up restaurant/food service operations, while bringing a vibrant mix of people, businesses and investment to Newburgh buildings in need of adaptive reuse.

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