The Journal News: “Ex-Riverkeeper John Cronin receives Jefferson Award”

Former Riverkeeper John Cronin joined a select group this week that included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and actress Marlo Thomas.

They all received what has been dubbed the “Nobel Prize” for public service — the Jefferson Award.

John Cronin, 60, has worked on environmental issues facing the Hudson River for nearly four decades and was one of 18 people honored with  The Jefferson Award in a ceremony in Washington, DC, Tuesday night.

“It was quite a surprise,” Cronin said Friday to The Journal News. “Some of the awards are known ahead of time, others are kept under wraps. I was just going there to represent Pace University. I still haven’t figured out who knew and who didn’t.”

“The big theme of the two days was that everyday people can change the world,” Cronin said. “It reminded me what a special place the Hudson River Valley is, that we started an environmental movement before there was an Earth Day, when environmentalism wasn’t very popular at all.”

Representing Pace, Cronin was given a Champion award, presented to two “exceptional individuals whose volunteer work reflects the deep and abiding commitment of their employers to making a different in the communities where their employees live and work.”

The award cited his work as an environmental advocate for nearly four decades, serving “on the front lines of water-quality issues as a legislative aide, riverkeeper, and as the co-founder of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, a nationally acclaimed training program for law students and educators.”

Cronin is director and CEO of Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, and a Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies at Pace University.