Winners of the 2021 Boeing Environmental Leadership Award

By Vanessa Smith
Published August 25, 2021

Winners of the 2021 Boeing Environmental Leadership Award

In 2021, we partnered with The Boeing Company to launch an Environment Leadership Award that recognizes environmental volunteers in Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington who have made positive impacts in their communities.

The goal of the award is to honor individuals who work to create more environmentally resilient and equitable communities. The first-place winner receives a cash gift of $5,000 for an environmental nonprofit of their choice. The runner-up and first-place youth winner receive $2,500 for their selected nonprofit.

Recipients of the award were selected based on their contributions to the environment in one or more of the following categories: community well-being, increasing access to open space, stormwater management, and addressing issues of environmental equity. By showcasing these extraordinary individuals, we hope to inspire more people to take an active role in building more equitable and environmentally sustainable communities. 

We are delighted to announce the winners of this year’s Boeing Environment Leadership Award. 

First-place winner: Teresa Zepeda Sosa of Wenatchee, Washington

Teresa Zepeda Sosa stands in front of a vista of Wenatchee, WashingtonTeresa Zepeda Sosa is the winner of the 2021 Boeing Environment Leadership Award.Photo credit: Jorge Rivas

Teresa Zepeda Sosa’s tireless efforts in the Parque Padrinos community group in Wenatchee have had a galvanizing and inspiring effect on her community. The Parque Padrinos were initially formed to lead the community engagement for the renovation of Kiwanis Methow Park. Once a gem in the community, the park had fallen into disrepair and became unsafe.

Teresa’s efforts ensured that the local community’s hopes and dreams for the park were understood and incorporated into the final design. Thanks in large part to Teresa’s efforts, more than 500 community members voted on the park’s design and amenities. Since the renovation, Methow Park is once again a popular community hub, offering recreation, fitness, and social opportunities for the 5,000 people, mostly Mexican American immigrants, who live within a 10-minute walk of the site. Teresa now volunteers to bring Mexican cultural activities, youth sports, and a market to foster local small businesses to the park to ensure it continues to thrive and benefit the community.

Teresa was born in Atlixco, Puebla, and has lived in Wenatchee for 27 years. She is a woman of action and her passion is helping her community. Teresa is committed to improving the mental and physical wellbeing of her community.


Sofía Girón, Los Angeles

Sofía Girón is a community leader in South Los Angeles in California. She is an integral part of her community and volunteers with several community groups focused on creating a more livable, safe, and healthy community for her family and neighbors.

As a leader of the Equipo Verde (Green Team), Sofia has worked in collaboration with Trust for Public Land, neighbors, and other organizations since 2012 to create safer pedestrian routes through the transformation of trash-strewn, polluted alleys into Green Alleys that also increase local access to green space and capture and infiltrate stormwater into the local aquifer.

In her role of environmental leader, Sofia also has a long history of advocating for support and funding for more green alleys, parks, and green infrastructure projects from the local to state-level offices for her community and communities similar to hers.

Her dream is a better quality of life for her two children and she recognizes that the best way to make this a reality is to become actively involved in improving and increasing resources and access to knowledge in her community.

First-place youth winner

Nikhil Johnson, Laveen Village, Arizona

Nikhil Johnson is a sophomore at North High School who has been deeply involved in the Chief Science Officers program for four years. As a Chief Science Officer, he is a student ambassador for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) at his school and helps make decisions for the STEM initiative. Empowering student voices and perspectives is deeply important to Nikhil as it helps to reduce the hierarchy of power between students and adults by elevating diverse and inclusive ideas.

As part of his action plan for 2020, Nikhil dug deep into the environment and focused on the impact every individual’s footprint can have on the world. He launched an environmental club at his school and organized a volunteer cleanup of Cesar Chavez Park in Phoenix, which removed more than 25 bags of trash and debris and planted 20 much-needed shade trees.

Beyond these environmental improvements to his community, Nikhil wanted to show his fellow students that they can get involved, spread their voices, and make the changes they believe in. As he likes to say, “Make local changes that will cause global impacts.”

We are proud to partner with Boeing in recognizing these environmental leaders who are making a tremendous difference in their communities.

Vanessa Smith is the senior manager of Boeing Global Engagement—Southwest Region and a California Advisory Board member.

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Vanessa Smith

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