2020 Charles W. Gruber Association Leadership Award

Charles W. Gruber (1910–2001) was a pioneer in the field of air pollution control. His contributions to the field of air pollution control and the Association were numerous and significant. He joined the Association in 1938 and made important contributions during the transitional years from 1948 to 1952, when the Association was transformed from a relatively closed smoke-oriented organization to one that addressed in name, philosophy, and structure the broader dimensions of air pollution control. In 1950, he became the first president of the reorganized and renamed Association. During his term of office, he conceived of the present technical committee structure and guided its development through the early years. In 1980, the Association awarded Honorary Membership to Gruber for more than 40 years of leadership and continuing contributions to the organization. The Charles W. Gruber Association Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has provided outstanding service to the Association through leadership positions at both international and local levels and who has contributed toward the achievement of the mission and objectives of the Association. The recipient will have demonstrated sincere, constant, and unselfish efforts over the course of his or her membership toward the betterment of the Association.

A&WMA presents the 2020 Charles W. Gruber Association Leadership Award to Sara J. Head, a past member of the Association’s Board of Directors.
Sara J. Head exemplifies the criteria for this award. She has been an active A&WMA member for over 40 years, serving in leadership roles at the international Association Board of Directors, Technical Council, and local Section and Chapter levels. 

Ms. Head has served as an Officer (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and/or Secretary) or Director of a Section or Chapter (or both) continuously since 1982. Upon moving to the Denver, CO area in 1981, she quickly became involved with the Rocky Mountain States Section as an Officer, rotating through the positions. Working with this Section was a great way to integrate with the local business community.  After, moving back to California in 1986, she was approached by Channel Islands Chapter (CIC) founder and Chair, and later A&WMA President, Dick Baldwin, to become an Officer, serving in all positions and as CIC Chair twice. In 2001, the then Vice Chair of the West Coast Section (WCS) took a job in northern California and had to resign from the Board before rotating to WCS Chair. At the completion of her term as CIC Chair, Ms. Head stepped in to be the WCS Chair, as the best qualified for the job.  During her term as Chair of WCS and both terms as CIC Chair, the WCS won the Minasian Award twice and the CIC won the Chapter Cup Award three times, which are signs of her leadership at the local level. She currently serves as a Director on the Boards of both the WCS and CIC, where she supports organizing the local technical meetings and other activities, helps with administration (e.g., Board meetings, elections, bylaw changes, etc.), fosters student programs, promotes Association programs, and provides a wealth of A&WMA institutional and historical knowledge to assist the current CIC and WCS Boards of Directors. 

She has simultaneously been very active at the Association level. She served on the Association’s Board of Directors for 8 years, first as a Director/Vice President for 3 years, then as President Elect/President/Past President for 3 years, and then as the Chair of Technical Council for another 2 years. During this time, she was a member of or chaired the A&MWA International Affairs Committee, the Nominations Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Honors & Awards Committee (which is a 5 year commitment after serving as President). During her term as President, she traveled to 14 Sections and Chapters, including the Taiwan and Hong Kong Sections, to see the vitality of the local member units and promote the Association.  

Her support of A&WMA’s Technical Council has also been noteworthy. She started in 1990 as a member of several of the Technical Coordinating Committees (TCCs), became Secretary, Vice Chair, and Chair of the Environmental Programs TCC, and then Vice Chair and Chair of the Environmental Programs Division through 2011.  Her term for President Elect, President, and Past President was from 2012–2014. In 2014, Technical Council found itself in dire straits, having had two Tech Council Vice Chairs resign within a year, the first one due to a job change and the second because he found the time commitment needed for the job to be too demanding.  While still serving as the Association’s Past President and Chair of the Nominations Committee, rather than resting our her laurels, she volunteered to step in to complete the Vice Chair term and then become Chair of Technical Council for two years, since she was one of the few people who met the qualifications criteria to be Chair of the Council. While in these leadership roles at Technical Council, she has been key to organizing the technical program for the A&WMA Annual Conference & Exhibition (ACE) over the past many years. In particular, she was the Technical Program Chair for ACE in Raleigh in 2015 and New Orleans in 2016, and has had a large role in the planning and quality assurance of the Technical Program document for the subsequent four ACEs, including the 2020 virtual ACE. She also has led initiatives within Technical Council, serving as Chair of the non-ACE Programs Taskforce, to identify webinar topics and organize Specialty Conferences. She has been on the Specialty Conference planning committees for five conferences in the last 3 years, including Co-Chair of the Climate Change Conference in December 2019 and on the planning committee of the Measurements Conference planned for December 2020.

All of the above A&WMA activities were done while building a successful 40+ year career in environmental consulting, rising to Vice President of AECOM and now as a Principal Scientist at Yorke Engineering. Ms. Head was one of the first QEPs and was awarded Fellow membership in the A&WMA due to her professional accomplishments. She is Chair of the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District Advisory Committee, where she has served voluntarily for over 26 years.

Sara J. Head

Charles W. Gruber Association Leadership Award