2024 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 2024 Charles W. Gruber Association Leadership Award to Bill Palermo.

Bill Palermo is a Principal with RTP Environmental Associates, Inc. (RTP), having full multi-media involvement in environmental engineering and consultation since 1968, with emphasis on air programs, including New Source Review, Air Toxics, Risk Management Planning, and Title V permitting. Bill graduated from the Tulane University of Louisiana with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in 1968. Following graduation, Bill served for five years as a commissioned officer in the Biomedical Sciences Corps of the United States Air Force, which is where he began his environmental focus. After leaving the Air Force in 1973, Bill held a number of environmental positions of increasing responsibility that culminated in his opening of the Louisiana office of RTP in 1999, where he served as Managing Principal until 2018. Bill remains associated with RTP in an “of counsel” role. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Louisiana in the fields of chemical and environmental engineering.
Like many members of the Association, Bill became a member when he registered for a Clean Air Act conference in 1991. By 1992, Bill had become involved in the leadership of the Louisiana Section, serving as Education Chair through 1993, after which he was elected as Vice-Chair, serving as Vice-Chair in 1994-1995 and Chair in 1995-1996. Bill has always felt that communication is critical in all organizations. As a consequence, during his tenure as Chair, he was responsible for the creation of an enhanced newsletter, the Monitor, for the Section. Following holding the office of Chair, he was elected as a Director of the Section for 1996-1999. In 1997, Bill began his long involvement at the international leadership level of the Association, being elected as Vice-Chair of the Sections & Chapters Council and serving in that office from 1997 to 2000 and Chair from 2000 to 2003. He was then elected and served as a member of the A&WMA Board of Directors from 2005 to 2007. Bill continued an active role with the Sections & Chapters Council, serving as its Finance and Governance Committee Chair until 2018.
There is no doubt that his leadership position at the international level of the Association allowed Bill to be instrumental in the selection of New Orleans by the Association’s Board of Directors as the site of the 99th Annual Conference & Exhibition in 2006. Likewise, following the devastation wrought on the Gulf South by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as the selected General Conference Chair, Bill was one of the prime movers, along with President Peter Hess and city leaders, in ensuring that the conference would remain in New Orleans, when many in the Association leadership thought that the location of the Conference should be changed.
Bill has been a continuing contributor to the Louisiana Section’s Annual Conference. Knowing that most members of the Section never had the opportunity to attend the Association’s Annual Conference, Bill arranged for the involvement and participation of such national Clean Air Act experts as Bill Wehrum, Ken Weiss, and Gary McCutchen for the development of a Clean Air Act Update session, which was presented annually over an eight year time period, that brought the best of the Association’s Annual Conference to the Louisiana Section’s Annual Conference.
During his tenure at the international leadership level, Bill has always been a champion for innovation in the Association’s products and services for the membership. As an example, Bill was Chair of the development committee and served as Co-Chair with John Seitz for the Association’s first conference on Climate Change held in Washington DC in April 2008. Suffice to say, Bill dedicated many hours of his personal time to the advancement of the Association. Those who know him well, know that his vision for the Association is for the day when environmental professionals will consider A&WMA as the one organization that they cannot afford not to belong to.

Bill Palermo

Bill Palermo

Charles W. Gruber Association Leadership Award