On Thursday, September 8, the Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium was filled for Southface’s annual Visionary Dinner. Sustainability professionals from across the region attend the wine-paired, five-course feast each year to support Southface. Close to 600 business leaders, nonprofit executives, policymakers and sustainability enthusiasts joined us to celebrate outgoing Executive Director Dennis Creech, and his 38 years of service to Southface.
Our co-hosts for this year’s Visionary Dinner were Walter Reeves, The Georgia Gardener, and Clark Howard, Nationally-Syndicated Consumer Expert. The mood for the night was set by a panel of five celebrity chefs: Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene and Holman & Finch; Eli Kirshtein, The Luminary; Roshan Martin, Wolfgang Puck Catering, Georgia Aquarium; Mary Moore, The Cook’s Warehouse; and Keith Schroeder, High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet. This year’s menu didn’t disappoint—from the familiar to the exotic—mint, ginger, ice cream and octopus, prepared as only these Atlanta chefs could. Regionally sourced ingredients were graciously provided by Whole Foods Market, our Legacy Partner for Visionary Dinner.
Southface presented its prestigious Argon Award to celebrate leadership in sustainability. The award itself is named for the gas “argon,” which is the non-toxic, non-reactive, clear and odorless gas that fills the space between the glass panes in high-performance windows. Southface board chair, Barry Goldman of Acuity Brands, and 2015 Argon Award Winner Lacey Lewis, on behalf of the Cox Conserves program, presented the Southface 2016 Argon Award to Dennis Creech.
“Sustainability has never been a job for Dennis, it’s been a passion,” Lewis said. “He understands that leadership by example is critical. He brings genuine commitment, a touch of humor and a steady moral compass to his leadership role.”
In her remarks, Lewis cited three qualities that made Creech worthy of the Argon Award: his passion both for the environment and people, especially those who are often impacted the most by poor environmental decisions; his persistence in fighting for change; and his servant leadership.
“I think all of our Argon Award winners would agree that these types of awards are presented to individuals in recognition of the work of many,” said Creech. “I would argue that this year’s award truly recognizes 38 years of work by the greater Southface community, and I am most proud to accept the award on behalf of you all.”
The night’s festivities also included the announcement of the Dennis Creech Emerging Leaders Fund, which will allow us to continue nurturing the next generation of environmental leaders in Dennis’s honor. Since the early 1990s, more than 250 emerging professionals have launched their careers at Southface, enhancing our programs and enabling them to gain real world experience in sustainability.
Our program provides a substantive learning experience that allows young professionals to explore career options and develop professional skills in the fields of sustainability, building science and nonprofit management. Southface interns, associate fellows and fellows can expect to coordinate research projects and proposals for new programs and services; explain building science and sustainability technologies to Southface visitors; and assist with event management—in addition to their contributions to our seven program areas. To learn more about the Emerging Leaders program, visit www.southface.org/about-us/careers/.