River Network recognizes HRWC executive director for inspirational leadership.

Laura Rubin has been recognized as a 2013 River Hero by River Network, a national association of watershed protection groups. The award celebrates rivers and watersheds, recognizes victories, and honors those who provide leadership that inspires the work of others and uses innovative strategies and techniques to achieve significant results.

Laura Rubin
Laura with her River Hero award, a hand-carved paddle symbolizing how River Heroes work with and are guided by rivers.

Laura, who is celebrating 15 years at HRWC’s helm, has been instrumental in establishing HRWC’s reputation as a regional and national leader in river protection work. Her leadership makes it possible to undertake innovative new initiatives like RiverUp!, a million dollar campaign for a river renaissance of the Huron River.

HRWC is known for its outstanding citizen scientist programs like Adopt-A-Stream and the Bioreserve Project, its stormwater and pollution management services for regulated communities, and programs that address natural areas protection, climate resiliency and water efficiency.  Laura’s efforts have shaped HRWC into an organization that provides a framework for local governments, citizens, non-profits, industries and regulators to partner for the benefit of the Huron River and its watershed.

Rubin and HRWC have made a difference.  A few notable achievements include:

  1. Implementing the first phosphorus reduction strategy in the state and seeing phosphorus numbers falling;
  2. Seeing the Village of Dexter embrace the river and build a vibrant downtown around the river through the successful removal of Dexter Dam;
  3. Protecting over 6,000 acres of high quality natural area and farmland with our partners in the watershed;
  4. Tackling climate issues making local communities more climate resilient and residents aware that saving waters, saves energy; and
  5. Developing a sound financial foundation for the organization, with a diverse source of funding. HRWC’s budget and ability to implement water quality programs has increased more than tenfold in her tenure, with an annual budget of $1,200,000 for fiscal year 2014.

“Laura has exceeded our expectations in building and leading team success–success in achieving measurable water quality results while creating programs designed to measure and accelerate further improvement of water quality throughout the watershed,” Evan Pratt, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and HRWC Board Chair.

Laura Rubin and Matt Naud
Laura Rubin and Matt Naud, City of Ann Arbor Environmental Coordinator.

Laura and four others were named River Heroes at River Network’s national conference, River Rally, in May. Long time colleague and friend Matt Naud, Environmental Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor traveled to St. Louis to introduce Laura at the award ceremony.  “She has enthusiastically led our communities to the river . . . and we are better for it. Neither the Huron River nor the watershed communities who enjoy her will ever be the same thanks to our River Hero, Laura Rubin,” stated Matt.

Laura has also been recognized for her outstanding public service with a “Special Tribute” from the State of Michigan and a “Proclamation” from the City of Ann Arbor declaring May 20, 2013 “Laura Rubin Day”.

Congratulations Laura!

Catch the video of the award ceremony at River Rally.