Annual Awards


Every year, KRC formally honors individuals who have demonstrated an active dedication to advancing justice and equity in community health and environmental policies in Kentucky through two awards:

  • Sue Anne Salmon Community Advocacy Award
  • Winnie Hepler Lifetime Achievement Award.

    2023 Award Nominations will be open in Fall 2023!


    On January 9, 2010, the Board of the Kentucky Resources Council  authorized the first award ever given by KRC. The  “Sue Anne Salmon Community Advocacy Award,”  is intended to recognize those who demonstrate principled and courageous environmental advocacy for the betterment of community and the environment, as Sue Anne did for her whole life. Sue Anne “smiled from ear to ear” when she learned of the award, according to her sister Lucy. Sue Anne died on January 13, 2010 after a six-year battle with ovarian cancer. This award is to be given to honor and recognize recent, outstanding acts of community advocacy in a way that advances environmental justice in Kentucky.

      Dr. Natasha DeJarnett

      Dr. Natasha DeJarnett (she/her) is an assistant professor in the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute at the University of Louisville Division of Environmental Medicine researching the health impacts of extreme heat exposure and environmental health disparities. In addition, she is a professorial lecturer in Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Previously, Dr. DeJarnett was interim associate director of Program and Partnership Development at the National Environmental Health Association, leading research, climate and health, and children’s environmental health. She also previously served as a policy analyst at the American Public Health Association (APHA), where she led the Natural Environment portfolio, including air and water exposures along with climate change. Dr. DeJarnett is the co-lead author for the 2022 Lancet Countdown on Climate and Health U.S. Brief. She is a member of the EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, is chair of the Governing Board of Citizens’ Climate Education, a president-elect of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility, chair-elect for APHA’s Environment Section, member of the Advisory Board of APHA’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity, a member of the Board of Trustees for the BTS Center, a board member for the West Jefferson County Community Task Force, and a board member of the Chestnut Street Family YMCA.


      In 2019, the Board of the Kentucky Resources Council established a new award to be bestowed annually on an individual whose life's work has shown the dedication, selfless commitment to nature, the and courage to speak against injustice, as has been the life's essence of the individual for whom the new award was named: Winnie Hepler. From walking in the picket line in support of civil rights in Louisville in the 1960s to her arrest for trespassing at the construction site of the Marble Hill nuclear power plant in 1977; from her early advocacy for air pollution control in Louisville to her work in 2004 and 2005 as a member of the Justice Resource Center and Rubbertown Emergency ACTion towards instituting and then defending an air toxics control program in Louisville; from her work with coalfield residents in the late 1960s in support of a ban on surface coal mining, to her presence at an EPA hearing on mining-related pollution in 2012, Winnie Hepler has been a polestar in the horizon of faithful advocates for justice.

      John & Jean Rosenberg
      John, a survivor of the Holocaust, traveled to America in 1940. He grew up in North Carolina and graduated from Duke University with a bachelor's in chemistry and the University of North Carolina with a law degree. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, having served as a Navigator in England during the Cold War, and achieving the rank of Captain. In the 1960s, he served as a Trial Attorney and Section Chief in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, litigating discrimination cases, primarily in the deep south.In 1970, he came to Prestonsburg with his family and established the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, AppalReD, to represent low-income clients in coal related environmental and safety cases as well as the traditional poverty law areas poor persons face such as federal and state benefits, housing, disability, and family law. John served as Director for 31 years, retiring in 2002. On his retirement, John organized the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, a non-profit law firm in Whitesburg, similar to KRC to take over Appalred’s coal related work. John also served as of counsel to the law office of Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf .

      Jean, growing up in a Quaker family in Philadelphia, and completed her BA Degree at Earlham College. She served as a research analyst and paralegal for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she and John met. In 1970, after moving to Prestonsburg with her family, Jean promoted healthy families and education. She helped bring the first ASPO/Lamaze childbirth classes to Floyd County, advocated for public education reform, and served 18 years as the Director of a campus support program for single parents at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. After leaving the college, Jean became a consultant with the Floyd County Health Department, and organized a non-profit “Breathe Easy Floyd County, “which after a five-year effort, succeeded in having the Prestonsburg City Council enact one of the first comprehensive Ordinances prohibiting secondhand smoke in the workplaces.

      Jean and John continue to be involved with various non-profit groups seeking to improve the quality of life in eastern Kentucky.

      Past recipients of the Sue Anne Salmon Community Advocacy Award

      • Aloma Dew
      • Corinne Whitehead
      • Wendell Berry
      • Chris Schimmoeller
      • Alice Howell
      • Winnie Hepler
      • Cassia Herron (2020)
      • Preston Miles (2021)
      Past recipients of the Winnie Hepler Lifetime Achievement Award
      • Wendell Berry (2020)
      • Cathy Hinko (2021)
      • Oscar Geralds, Jr. - posthumously (2021)
      "It is Winnie's selfless and loving care for creation and her love of justice, that have marked her life."
      - Tom FitzGerald, KRC Director