January 29, 2014
Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, '71, has been named to President Obama's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Heartwell is one of just 26 task force members and the only Michigander in the group, which was established in November 2013.
The task force is part of Obama's Climate Action Plan, and will specifically advise the Obama administration on effective support for communities dealing with the impacts of climate change. Its members were chosen in large part for their firsthand experiences in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities.
“Grand Rapids has distinguished itself among American cities for our aggressive work on climate protection and climate-change resiliency,” Heartwell said in a prepared statement. “Appointment by the president to the task force will ensure that our experience influences the national agenda."
Along with Heartwell, other task force members include eight governors, 15 mayors/county administrators and leaders of two Native American tribes.
Mayor of Grand Rapids since January 2004, Heartwell has implemented a variety of environmental measures, including the purchase of renewable resource energy, the use of alternative fuels in city vehicles, continued attention to water quality in the Grand River, and widespread implementation of energy conservation measures. In 2007, the United Nations recognized Grand Rapids as a "Regional Center of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development." In 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Grand Rapids the "Nation's Most Sustainable City" award, and in 2012 Heartwell was given the first-place Climate Protection Award by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Heartwell was named an Albion College Distinguished Alumnus in 2005, and was the 2010 Stoffer Lecturer and recipient of an Albion College honorary doctorate.