NW Energy Coalition to give first organizing award

Sierra Club’s Kathleen Ridihalgh to be honored June 12 during 4 Under Forty event at Seattle’s Bullitt Center

SEATTLE – In its 33-year history, the NW Energy Coalition has honored dozens of groups and individuals for their efforts in advancing clean and affordable energy policy across the region. But it has never honored someone specifically for their on-the-ground success in mobilizing grassroots support for those policy efforts.

That glaring omission will be rectified on Thursday, June 12. As part of its 2nd annual 4 Under Forty celebration at Seattle’s Bullitt Center, the Coalition will bestow the inaugural Doug Still Community Organizing Award on Kathleen Casey Ridihalgh, senior organizing manager for the Sierra Club.

“Kathleen Ridihalgh sets the standard for organizing in the public interest,” said NW Energy Coalition executive director Sara Patton. “She represents everything that award namesake Doug Still stood for, and her years of success bear that out.”

Over the past 15 years, Ridihalgh has overseen outreach efforts on many of the Northwest’s most important energy, environmental and political issues, from climate change and coal exports, to clean power and transportation, to environmental and economic justice.

She joined the Sierra Club in 1999, just in time to lead public education events around the game-changing WTO meeting in Seattle. After stepping in as the Club’s acting regional director, she assumed her current position in 2006, just as the Club was joining with the Coalition and other allies to lead passage of Washington state’s clean energy law, Initiative 937.

Since then she’s built popular support for campaigns that have:

  • Won agreements to end coal-fired electricity production in Washington and Oregon.
  • Stopped three of six coal export proposals.
  • Forced transportation planners to address climate concerns and incorporate public transit options in their projects.
  • Made the Northwest’s continued reliance on imported coal power a hot-stove topic regionally and nationally.

And through it all, she’s pushed for inclusion of all those touched by the campaigns, from electric ratepayers and taxpayers to coal-plant workers and local communities.

“Organizing is equal parts art, science, heart and grit,” Ridihalgh explained. “The most rewarding times of my career have been helping folks to find their voice and realize they can make a difference against all odds. I have played just a very small part of the huge struggle for equality and justice, but all our small parts add up to great things.”

Ridihalgh commended the Coalition for creating the Doug Still organizing award and said she was honored to be its first recipient.

Doug Still was a founding member, board chair and Oregon caucus chair of the Coalition. A lifelong organizer, he co-founded Oregon’s Solar Energy Association, fought to improve the 1980 Northwest Power and Conservation Act and helped establish the Emerald People’s Utility District. He died in 2007 (click here to read the Coalition’s tribute). The Coalition board created the organizing award in his name at its June 2013 meeting.

Ridihalgh will be joined by other honorees at the 4 Under Forty celebration from 5:30-7 p.m., Thursday, June 12, at the Bullitt Center, 1501 E. Madison St. The Coalition’s coveted Headwaters Award will go to the Bullitt Foundation to honor the Bullitt Center, Seattle’s first living building. CEO Denis Hayes will accept the award on behalf of the Foundation.

The title event honors four under-40 leaders — Tara Anderson of SustainableWorks, Jessica Finn Coven of Climate Solutions, Ben Otto of the Idaho Conservation League and Gus Takala of Puget Sound Energy – who are bringing the benefits of clean and affordable energy to the people of the Northwest. (Click here for information on the 4 Under Forty honorees.)

The event is a fundraiser to support the NW Energy Coalition’s work for clean and affordable energy solutions across the region. Tickets are $50 and include appetizers and drinks.

Click here to register for 4 Under Forty.

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The NW Energy Coalition is a leading advocate for policies promoting energy efficiency
and renewable energy, consumer and low-income protections
and restoration of fish and wildlife affected
by Northwest power production.