This event honors the recently announced recipients of the 2020 Roy Award: Clean Water for Carolina Kids, a cross-sector partnership of RTI International, NC Child, the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

What progress have we made in providing clean drinking water to all Americans? Experts will discuss how to document, mitigate, and eliminate exposure to dangerous toxins, especially in vulnerable and under-resourced communities; how to build successful coalitions to push for public attention and state action; and how to expand solutions from the hyper-local level to the state and national level.

The Clean Water for Carolina Kids program protects children and infants from exposure to lead from drinking water at child care centers and schools. This year’s winning partnership leveraged the combined strengths of each of the partners – a nonprofit research institute, a community advocacy group, a pro-bono public interest law school clinic and a state public health agency – to make a critical advancement in children’s health in the state of North Carolina.

Read the tabs on this page for information on the event program, speakers and honorees, and a brief history of the Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership.

Event Program

William Clark, ENRP Faculty Chair

Congratulatory Remarks
Doug Elmendorf, HKS Dean

Presentation on Clean Water for Carolina Kids
Jennifer Hoponick Redmon, Senior Environmental Health Scientist, Project Director, Clean Water for Carolina Kids Program, RTI International

Panel Discussion

Cristine Russell, ENRP Senior Fellow

Vikki Crouse, Policy Analyst/North Carolina KIDS COUNT Project Director, NC Child
Kristi Pullen Fedinick, Senior Scientist and Director, Science and Data, Healthy People & Thriving Communities, NRDC
Ronnie Levin, visiting scientist, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Jennifer Hoponick Redmon

Concluding Remarks


Jennifer Hoponick Redmon is an expert in environmental health science and chemical risk assessment who leads complex projects involving protection of human health and the environment. Her dual graduate degrees include a multifaceted education in environmental chemistry, toxicology, risk assessment, environmental policy, and natural resource management. Ms. Redmon is also a certified hazardous materials manager.

With a background in the scientific and policy areas of environmental science and natural resource management, she offers a blend of practical field expertise, technical knowledge, managerial skills, and a commitment to improving public health. Her strong interdisciplinary background enables her to devise and lead projects covering a variety of technical areas. Redmon is co–project director of the RTI study Clean Water for Carolina Kids, which aims to identify the presence of lead in drinking water at child care centers and schools in North Carolina and to help provide low-cost, feasible recommendations to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water for vulnerable populations. She is also co–project director for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture Grant in partnership with Duke University to characterize the potential human health and crop health risks associated with the use of oilfield-produced water for crop irrigation. Ms. Redmon also is co-leading RTI efforts to identify risk factors associated with chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology in Sri Lanka and globally. Other current projects include environmental technical support for federal agencies to support regulatory rulemaking and guidance development. She is interested in linking chemicals and toxins found in the environment with exposures, supporting risk identification, communication, and mitigation measures that improve environmental health outcomes, and improving global sustainability, food safety, and natural resource management in the food–energy–water nexus.

Vikki Crouse is a Policy Analyst and NC KIDS COUNT Project Director at NC Child. As Policy Analyst, Vikki leads NC Child’s Environmental Health Program to ensure that children have the opportunity to grow up healthy and meet developmental milestones in an environment free of toxicants. She also manages North Carolina KIDS COUNT data program, providing advocates and decision-makers with reliable data to better understand child well-being. Vikki joined NC Child in January 2019. She holds an MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Kristi Pullen Fedinick is the Senior Scientist and Director of Science and Data and Healthy People & Thriving Communities at NRDC. She brings over 20 years of multidisciplinary research experience to her projects at NRDC and has worked for more than a decade at the intersection of science and public policy to advance data-driven, health-protective, community-oriented solutions. Pullen Fedinick’s work at NRDC assesses, integrates, and leverages health and environmental data to advance protections for people and communities that are disproportionately impacted by drinking water contamination and exposures to harmful chemicals. She has authored multiple policy reports, peer-reviewed articles, and policy comments, and served on numerous influential committees of the National Academies of Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency. Pullen Fedinick received her B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and her Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology with a concentration in structural biology and biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is based in NRDC's Washington, D.C., office.

Ronnie Levin worked at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for almost 40 years.  She was critically involved with EPA’s major lead regulations throughout that time including being part of the core team responsible for reducing lead in gasoline.  Ronnie realized the crucial role of lead contamination of drinking water; indeed, she wrote EPA’s book on reducing lead in drinking water and instigated for EPA’s actions to control those exposures.  Ronnie has also developed methods for monetizing lead’s health damages, including neurological effects; she published a method, referred to succinctly as ‘IQ-earnings’ in 1986 to support EPA’s proposed regulation of lead in drinking water.  This is now the standard metric for cognitive damage.

Since leaving EPA, Ronnie has been teaching and managing the water and health program at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.  Recently, Ronnie has developed methods for One Health analyses that array data across humans, animals and the natural environment.  She has 2 recent One Health lead articles, one on lead seasonality and the other on the urban lead burden.

Cristine Russell, this panel's moderator, is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written about science, health and the environment, particularly climate change, for four decades. She is a senior fellow at HKS’ Environment & Natural Resources Program who works with the Arctic Initiative and is a former HKS Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy.

Russell has written for Columbia Journalism Review, Scientific American, the Atlantic, Undark and other publications and earlier was a national science reporter for The Washington Post and The Washington Star. She is active in efforts to improve international science journalism and communication to the general public about controversies in science. At HKS, Russell has organized speaker series on Climate, Energy and the Media. She was a Spring 2006 Fellow at the HKS Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

Russell is past President of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and of the National Association of Science Writers. In 2020, Russell was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Clean Water for Carolina Kids

Recipient of the 2020 Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership

This partnership of RTI International, NC Child, the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and the North Carolina Division of Public Health protects children and infants from exposure to lead from drinking water at child care centers and schools.

The partnership leveraged the combined strengths of each of the partners – a nonprofit research institute, a community advocacy group, a pro-bono public interest law school clinic and a state public health agency – piloting its novel testing approach, proving its feasibility, and evaluating legal and regulatory options for statewide testing with input from stakeholders.

The approach includes the use of mail-out test kits, an online enrollment and reporting portal, and most importantly, training and communication support. Using this community-based approach allows child care and school administrators to understand the problem, communicate with staff, parents, and children, and take collective action to make water quality improvements.

In fall 2019, a new statewide rule was adopted that requires all licensed child care centers to test for and remove lead in water used for drinking or food preparation. It is the first-of-its-kind lead in water testing program nationally to make large scale, yet scientifically robust testing feasible while empowering child care centers and schools to participate as citizen scientists.

By focusing on prevention, the partnership will protect the 230,000 children ages six and under in child care centers and schools in North Carolina. A net economic benefit of $6.4 million in the first six years of the program’s implementation is expected from avoided health care costs and increased lifetime earnings.

An expansion of the program is planned in 2021 for voluntary testing of family child care homes and elementary schools, with enrollment prioritized based on financial need, racial equity and building age. While North Carolina is the first state in the U.S. to use this novel approach to identify lead in child care water and schools, the program is scalable as a national model to advance efforts to eliminate childhood lead exposure in other states, child care centers, schools, and homes.

This year is the ninth time the Harvard Kennedy School has bestowed the Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership. The Roy Family has been a longtime supporter of the development of cross-sector partnerships to meet social and environmental goals. The Roy Award provides positive incentives for governments, companies, and organizations worldwide to push the boundaries of creativity and take risks that result in significant changes that benefit the environment.

Past Winners

The 2018 winning project, the Advancing Green Infrastructure Program in New Haven, CT, was selected for its inclusive, replicable approach to dealing with the negative impacts of more frequent and intense rainfall events due to climate change.

The 2016 winner was the California Healthy Nail Salon Program, a partnership between Asian Health Services and five city and county government departments. The Program addresses the environmental health and justice issues faced by workers in the salon industry and works to standardize safe, pollution prevention salon practices that can be implemented nationwide and globally.

The 2013 winner was the Dow-TNC Collaboration, a partnership between The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy to help companies understand how to integrate the value of forests, watersheds, and biodiversity into more sustainable business and community decisions.

The 2011 Award recognized Refrigerants, Naturally! a collaboration of four high-profile private companies – The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s, Unilever, and PepsiCo – and two international environmental organizations – Greenpeace and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) –  dedicated to combating climate change and ozone layer depletion by developing natural refrigeration technologies that are safe, reliable, affordable, and energy efficient.

In 2009, the Roy Award was presented to the Mexico City Metrobus, a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while improving the quality of life and transportation options in one of the largest cities in the world.