September / 2017

Sparkplug Award, 2017 Recipient

Ruth G. Hennig stepped down after 29 years as Executive Director of The John Merck Fund in September 2017. She has worked in the environmental field for over 30 years, first at the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston and then at The John Merck Fund, where she oversaw program-related special initiatives, including Healthy Babies Bright Futures.

Ruth currently serves as a board member of League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, which promotes civic engagement and education on environmental issues, and was a founding board member of Issue One, which seeks to end the corrosive impact of special interest money on politics and policymaking. She has also served as chair at SmartPower and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, two organizations that she helped create.

In service to the philanthropic community, Ruth was Beldon Fund Trustee, served in management roles at Environmental Grantmakers Association, the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, and the Health and Environmental Funders Network, and continues her service to JMF as a Trustee. She currently also serves as a board member for Baraka Community Wellness, a nonprofit organization which is changing lives in Boston’s low-income communities with evidence-based fitness and nutrition programs.

Ruth lives in Boston, where she spends as much time outside with her Labradoodle as possible. Photography, movies, travel and politics are her special interests.

September / 2017

Sparkplug Award, 2017 Recipient

Brian F. Keane is President of SmartPower and author of Green Is Good: Save Money, Make Money, and Help Your Community Profit From Clean Energy (Lyons Press, 2012). He is a leading voice on clean energy, energy efficiency, and the environment. As President of SmartPower, a Washington, DC-based marketing agency dedicated to promoting clean, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, Keane has helped shape the energy debate in the United States and brought clean energy and energy efficiency to the American consumer. Hailed as Mad Men for an eco-conscious generation, SmartPower’s award-winning marketing campaigns have engaged hundreds of thousands of people across the country, drawing credit for inspiring our nation’s renewed interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

For their efforts, Keane and SmartPower have been recognized with numerous awards, including a 2010 Clean Air Excellence Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, recognizing SmartPower’s “America’s Greenest Campus” energy efficiency campaign. Other accolades include the coveted Green Power Pilot Award presented by the EPA and the US Department of Energy; four Gold Awards from the Service Industry Advertising Awards (SIAA); and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Circle Award. In 2005 Keane was recognized as one of Connecticut’s “Outstanding Forty Under 40.”

A former advisor to the late Senator Paul Tsongas (D-MA) and congressional aide to Representative Les Aspin (D-WI), Keane has an extensive and cutting-edge background in nonprofit management, political organizing and communications. He has used this experience to create organizations that challenge conventional wisdom and help to set the national agenda. To be sure, before there was a “Tea Party,” Keane was one of the architects of The Concord Coalition, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating the federal budget deficit.
Keane combines his passion for major policy issues with a marketer’s commitment to creating compelling messages that resonate with the general public, not just the converted. As such, Keane is a much sought-after interview subject and presenter on a host of issues – including clean energy and energy efficiency. He has spoken extensively across the nation, internationally and with local and national media.