Media Contacts:

Dave Paule
Telephone: 404-659-3122


Air, Earth and Water all honored at the 2017 Environmental Heroes Celebration, hosted by GreenLaw

Jacqueline Echols, Pierre Howard, Dink Nesmith and The Press-Sentinel to be honored

GreenLaw is hosting its annual Environmental Heroes Celebration on Thursday, October 5, 2017. The event will be held at Nelson Mullins at 201 17th Street in Atlantic Station, on the top floor with stunning views of downtown. GreenLaw is a 501(c)3 public interest, environmental law firm providing free high-quality legal and technical assistance to environmental and community organizations throughout Georgia.

“This year’s honorees have helped Georgia’s environment by promoting clean water, fighting coal ash and the protecting beauty of Georgia,” said GreenLaw executive director, David M. Paule. “The Environmental Heroes Celebration celebrates their work, and highlights its importance.”

Honorees this year are:


Special Media Recognition for Environmental Championship


The Press-Sentinel and Dink NeSmith. 

Dink NeSmith is a distinguished and prolific journalist who fights for environmental justice through investigative reporting.

The Press-Sentinel, Wayne County’s twice-weekly newspaper shined a light on Republic Services’ plan to accept out-of-state coal ash at its Broadhurst landfill in Wayne County.  The plan, which could have seen up to 100 railroad cars, 10,000 tons, of ash transported to Broadhurst each day.  Over the course of a year, the 6,000-circulation paper published more than 75 stories on the landfill, including three ad-free special sections about the dangers of coal ash, as well as more than a dozen editorials and 70 editorial cartoons. Additionally, NeSmith fired off 62 personal columns and hired lawyers to fight Republic’s plans. 

Beginning in 2016, NeSmith, along with publisher Eric Denty and the news staff of The Press-Sentinel, increased transparency, access to information, and public awareness by exposing a private landfill containing coal ash leachate that had been poisoning the Wayne County groundwater supply for several years.

In 2008, Mr. NeSmith was appointed to the Georgia Board of Regents, and served as an at-large member and chairman in 2013. Mr. NeSmith has also served as president of the Georgia Press Association and Leadership Georgia. NeSmith, who is a graduate of University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, former president of the UGA Alumni Association, and a University of Georgia Foundation emeritus trustee, has demonstrated a strong connection to Georgia’s natural spaces. 


Environmental Hero


Dr. Jacqueline Echols, Board President of South River Watershed Alliance

Jacqueline Echols is a tireless advocate for Georgia’s watersheds and works for their protection through both policy change and community engagement. Dr. Echols has served as Board President of the South River Watershed Alliance (SRWA) since 2010. As Board President, Echols has implemented changes in state NPDES sewer overflow permitting, achieved Georgia State Senate support for the South River Water Trail, and hosted countless riverside cleanup; kayaking; and hiking events for the local community.

Under her leadership, the SRWA became the sole intervener in the consent decree between the United States Environmental Protection Agency and DeKalb County; assisting with the implementation and ongoing supervision of the consent decree and its regulations on county-caused sewage spills into the local watershed.

Dr. Echols is currently running a community-wide initiative to remove invasive bamboo and privet from the South River corridor and reintroduce native rivercane.


Lifetime Achievement Award


Georgia attorney and former Lt. Governor Pierre Howard.

Pierre Howard is an incredibly distinguished attorney who has protected Georgia’s land and waterways as a politician, a community organizer, and a legal advisor.

Mr. Howard was elected to the Georgia State Senate in 1972, where he served for 18 years representing Dekalb County’s 42nd district, working as an assistant floor leader for Governor George Busbee, and chairing the Senate Human Resources Committee. He was elected the ninth Lieutenant Governor of Georgia in 1990 and served two consecutive terms.

In 2009, Mr. Howard became president and CEO of the Georgia Conservancy, where he targeted land conservation and access at a local level. As president and CEO, Howard founded the Land Conservation Initiative, which uses conservation easements and tax benefits to encourage environmental ethics in private landowners. During his tenure as president, the Georgia Conservancy took more than 1,000 people a year on stewardship trips to hike, camp, and paddle Georgia’s forests, beaches, and rivers.

Today, Mr. Howard continues to advocate for Georgia’s natural resources at his own environmental consulting firm, Green Day Conservation Services.  “My soul is rested,” said Mr. Howard in a 2014 interview with the Saporta Report. “And I’m going to keep on fighting to protect the natural world, to protect the environment and to protect the water and the marshes in this state.”


About the Environmental Heroes Celebration

The Environmental Heroes Celebration is one of the environmental community’s premiere events. It recognizes members of our community who have shaped Georgia’s future through environmental activism, conservation and legal advocacy. The event includes heavy appetizers, cocktails, music, networking, a brief honoree award ceremony and a thank you gift.

The Celebration will be held on Thursday, October 5, 2017, from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM at Nelson Mullins at 201 17th Street in Atlantic Station, on the top floor with stunning views of downtown.

Sponsorships and tickets for the event may be purchased at Tickets are $150 for individuals and $250 for couples.


Note to press: High resolution images are available upon request.


About GreenLaw

As a 501(c)(3) law firm, GreenLaw advocates to preserve Georgia’s unique natural places and enforces compliance with environmental law through the court system. GreenLaw was founded in 1992 by attorneys, law professors, and judges committed to providing community groups in Georgia with the legal and technical tools needed to protect their environment and public health. For more information, please visit