2022 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 2022 Charles W. Gruber Association Leadership Award to Harish G. Rao.
Harish Rao first became involved with A&WMA with the presentation of a paper at the 1985 Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE) and started as a member of the Northern Ohio Chapter/East Central Section from 1984-1987. From that start, A&WMA has become an active part of his professional life and considers it a privilege to be a part of this professional organization to be able to contribute and also receive much from the interaction with others in the profession. After moving to the Chicago area, he joined the Lake Michigan States Section (LMSS) of A&WMA serving on the Board and as the Section’s Treasurer, and Vice Chair in the early 1990s. He was the LMSS Section Chair during 1995-96 and outgoing Chair the following year. During this period, he organized two annual 2-day Air Conferences. In the last couple of years, Dr. Rao rejoined the LMSS Board and is currently the Treasurer, assists with the Section’s annual Air and Waste Conference planning committees, and serves on the mentorship program.
Dr. Rao has had a long history with Technical Council activities, participating as a member or officer of a number of technical coordinating committees (TCCs), over many years, related to chemistry, modeling, regulatory compliance, environmental remediation, waste management, air toxics, risk assessment, auditing, climate change and sustainability. He also filled several positions at various levels within Technical Council. Among the program leadership activities, Dr. Rao served as the General Conference Chair of two A&WMA international specialty conferences in Chicago, namely the 2005 Specialty Conference on environmental data analysis – Assessing Health and Environmental Impacts, Developing Policy and Achieving Regulatory Compliance; and the 2015 Specialty Conference, Addressing Climate Change: Emerging Policies, Strategies, and Technological Solutions. In addition, he has been on the planning committee of several other International Specialty Conferences on Vapor Intrusion and Climate Change. His leadership in Technical Council includes terms as Chair of TCCs, Division officer, Group Coordinator for Sustainability, Resource Conservation, Climate Change and Waste Management (SRCWM), Vice Chair (2017-18); Chair of Technical Council and International A&WMA Board Member (2019-20); Immediate Past Chair (2021-22); Non-ACE Programs Committee Vice Chair (2021-22); liaison member of Critical Review Committee (2021-present); member of International Affairs Committee (2016-present); and Website Committee (2015-present). During his tenure as Chair of Technical Council, Dr. Rao served as the Technical Program Chair for the 2019 ACE held in Quebec, Canada; and the first virtual 2020 ACE held successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic, which required significant coordination with leadership, staff and presenters as A&WMA pivoted from an in-person meeting to an all-virtual program. For at least the last 15 years, Dr. Rao has been active in the Technical Council’s planning process for organizing the ACE technical programs, attending and scheduling sessions, reviewing papers, presenting papers as well as chairing sessions. He continues to look for additional opportunities to volunteer his time to improve and make A&WMA the go-to organization for environmental professionals.
Dr. Rao is a licensed Professional Engineer in Illinois and a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) since 1994 and works as a private consultant providing environmental engineering and carbon management project services under Rao Consulting Services (RCS) since 2012 and under BalanceCO2 since 2007, where he is the founder and principal. Dr. Rao’s consulting work with several consulting firms, including ARCADIS/LFR, Fluor Daniel GTI, and Rust Environment & Infrastructure, between 1992 and 2012, has been in the areas of air quality, modeling, risk assessment, regulatory analysis and compliance, permitting, planning documentation, statistical analysis, training, auditing, and site remediation projects. From 1986 to 1992, Dr. Rao served as the Chief of the Scientific/Technical Section of the quasi-judicial Illinois Pollution Control Board for nearly six years working on multi-media regulations (air, water, land, and noise) to support the Board in promulgating state-wide environmental regulations and in adjudication of cases. He played a significant role in promulgation of the early air RACT regulations for ozone management, and standards for non-hazardous landfill regulations in Illinois. He has also been involved with research and teaching of undergraduate and graduate level courses in civil/environmental engineering at several universities, most recently as Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University from 2012 to 2017. For the last five years, he has been a volunteer with AARP’s Tax-Aide program to prepare tax returns for seniors and low-income filers.
Harish G. Rao