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Every year, to mark the anniversary of the March 18, 1937 Texas School Explosion, I salute inspiring individuals who show extraordinary responsibility and inspirational leadership for school and community safety. They live and work by a standard of excellence and integrity — often in the face of denial, willful blindness, and indifference about hazards and unsafe conditions. Remembering the Lessons of the 1937 Texas School Explosion
One lesson of the 1937 tragedy is that a safe quality environment depends on champions with an exceptional sense of responsibility. Another lesson is that we can’t take it for granted that local officials or elected representatives make community safety or health a priority.
These four Heroes are inspiring for a combination of personal qualities and qualifications beyond credentials. Each, in his or her own way, promotes the values that build and continuously strengthen a culture of responsibility for safety and continuous improvement.
Todd Dresser and Rick Reibstein are heroes because both have dedicated their lives and long careers to helping people make good decisions to prevent pollution and reduce environmental hazards in schools, workplaces and communities. As public agency officials, educators, mentors, and consultants, they have been innovative problem solvers in a variety of business, private, government and academic settings. They are experts at building relationships and trust with clients and communities. Jane Winnis a grassroots leader gifted at building community power to oppose pollution and advance sustainability. Brooke Leiferis an inspiring young woman dedicated to using music to inspire people “to make the world a better place, a special place, a healthy place, to stop pollution."