2021 Winner

Congratulations to Diane Vaszily, the 2021 national Cox Conserves Hero. 

Meet Diane

Honoring Volunteers

To date, the national Cox Conserves Heroes program has honored more than 200 volunteers.

Supporting Nonprofits

Since 2008, we have donated over $1.1 million to environmental nonprofits.

Inspiring Others

We hope to inspire more people to take an active role in community conservation.

Cox Conserves Heroes honors environmental volunteers who create, preserve or enhance the shared outdoor spaces in our communities.

Cox Conserves Heroes is an awards program created by Cox Enterprises and The Trust for Public Land (TPL). The program serves to honor environmental volunteers who create, preserve or enhance shared outdoor spaces in their local communities.

The goal is to inspire and encourage individuals who are making a positive impact on the planet through volunteerism and honor them with financial support to their nonprofit of choice. 

Individuals of all ages are eligible to participate in the Cox Conserves Heroes Program.

Meet Diane Vaszily, the 2021 national Cox Conserves Hero.

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Jane Sherman

Rhode Island

Jane Sherman

Rhode Island

Jane Sherman has worked for decades to change the face of one of the most economically challenged areas in Rhode Island and address long-standing environmental inequities.

In 1994, as director of the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project, Jane led the transformation of an industrially polluted waterway into the center of an urban revitalization project. The revitalization of parks and brownfields along a 4.4-mile stretch of the Woonasquatucket River was the catalyst for new affordable housing and other projects. In 1998, the Greenway project was designated a Brownfield Showcase community, and Jane's work secured designation of the Woonasquatucket as an American Heritage River. Jane formed the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project in 1998 to expand revitalization to the entire river system, and incorporated the Council as a non-profit in 2001 after which she officially retired from the organization and became a volunteer. Her tireless efforts on behalf of WRWC over the last 20 years continues to carry this legacy forward.

Jane brought people and sectors together in one of the largest community collaborations that Providence has seen. Because of her, 62 acres of green space and parkland along the Woonasquatucket are now available for public use. Thousands more migratory fish return to the Woonasquatucket because of that work. Her volunteer work shows that restoring natural resources can also restore quality of life, economic success and a sense of hope.

WATCH Jane’S VIDEO ON Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council

Glenn Legacki

Georgia

Glenn Legacki

Georgia

Glenn Legacki’s dedication to preserving and restoring urban forests has made a big contribution locally in Atlanta and is inspiring others to help preserve urban forests.

Glenn is one of Trees Atlanta’s most active and dedicated volunteers and a leader within the nonprofit’s Forest Restoration program. Since first volunteering in 2018, he has participated in 34 projects totaling more than 140 hours of service. He found his calling in forest restoration, a process of restoring urban greenspaces that are overrun with invasive plants like kudzu and wisteria. After completing a forest stewardship class and leading projects in many Atlanta communities, Glenn adopted Gilliam Park, a 12-acre outdoor recreation area in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood, and now leads monthly projects restoring this urban greenspace.

Glenn’s monthly volunteer projects engage volunteers from around Atlanta, educating them about how to identify and control invasive plants. Rapid growth in Atlanta means we are losing many trees to development, making the restoration and preservation work that Glenn executes increasingly important. Beyond his work with Trees Atlanta, Glenn regularly shares his expertise and has become an expert community resource on all things “green.”

WATCH Glenn’S VIDEO ON Trees Atlanta

Naomi Davis

Illinois

Naomi Davis

Illinois

Naomi Davis is an urban theorist, attorney, activist and proud granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers.

Naomi serves as a bridge and catalyst among communities and their stakeholders in the design and development of green, self-sustaining, mixed-income, “walkable villages” within black neighborhoods so that every household can ultimately walk to work, shopping, school and recreation. She is the founder and paid president of BIG (Blacks In Green). The organization has offered courses in areas such as “The 8 Principles of Green Village Building” and “The Sustainable Square Mile” which Naomi authored and teaches nationally in lectures and workshops, and universities.

Naomi also volunteers countless hours in the community to create Green Fairs, connect residents with training for jobs in the solar power industry and recruit volunteers to take care of neighborhood trees. She shares the Blacks In Green strategy with other disinvested neighborhoods across Chicago so they can learn the same principles of creating local green economies and is now working to address city cut-offs of water for poorer residents.

Naomi's efforts across many domains are producing positive impacts in the areas of economy, sustainability, climate change and community empowerment.

WATCH Naomi’S VIDEO ON BIG (Blacks In Green)

Diane Vaszily

Arizona

Diane Vaszily

Arizona

Diane Vaszily is a proactive community member who enthusiastically volunteers with two area nonprofits dedicated to conservation and environmental education.

Diane has worked in many ways to support education efforts at the Desert Awareness Committee, a community resource advocate for the Sonoran Desert, and at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. She wrote curriculum for and initiated a hands-on classroom program using a team of volunteers she trained. As a conservation center volunteer, she serves as a docent, education curriculum writer and mentor for new volunteers. She created a field program at the local park and secured a grant to transport local students to a hands-on education program, formed a team to author a children’s book about desert animals, and leads a team that provides public seminars and classes for other nonprofits.

All told, Diane volunteers untold hours every year with each organization and her work has benefited thousands of people of all ages. Her philosophy is: “If the next generation has first-hand contact with the environment and wildlife in a meaningful and positive way, those experiences will help them become better stewards of those lands and animals in the future.”

WATCH Diane’S VIDEO ON Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

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More About Cox Conserves Heroes

Since 2008, we have honored more than 200 volunteers across the nation who have helped us make a significant impact on conservation and environmental protection in our communities. In partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), we have donated over $1.1 million to environmental nonprofits through the James M. Cox Foundation.

Cox Conserves Heroes is part of Cox Enterprises' national Cox Conserves sustainability program.

Learn more about how it works

NOMINEES & THEIR PROJECTS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor Spaces

Creates, protects and/or beautifies an outdoor community space.

Volunteer Basis

Volunteer Basis

Works on a volunteer basis that is not part of their employment.

Inspire Others

Inspire Others

Inspires others to engage in community conservation.