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New Jersey - For the 25th Anniversary of the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award, an outstanding group of 24 Honorees were recognized from across the state of New Jersey, this year virtually. Among them was Clean Water Action’s very own New Jersey Environmental Justice Director, Kim Gaddy. Ms. Gaddy along with other individuals were selected by the Advisory Board out of a pool of 330+ nominations submitted in 2020 and 2021.

Kim Gaddy, a fourth generation Newarker, has spent more than 20 years with Clean Water Action on the frontlines fighting for environmental justice in New Jersey communities of color, starting in her own South Ward neighborhood where she raised her three children who suffered from chronic asthma. That personal experience and losing her brother-in-law to a fatal asthma attack compelled her to be a voice for communities impacted by industrial pollution. After a decade of tenacious advocacy by Kim and other environmental leaders, New Jersey now has the strongest environmental justice legislation in the nation. In recognition of her steadfast leadership, she is the recipient of a $25,000 award.

“We could not be more thrilled that Kim Gaddy is receiving the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award,” said Amy Goldsmith, New Jersey State Director, Clean Water Action. “I have worked with Kim for over 20 years. We have raised our children along the same timeline and fought for environmental justice safeguards together. She is tireless in her determination to succeed, has inspired others to act and well deserving of this award.”

“As challenging as 2020 was for so many of us, these selfless individuals answered their communities’ call for help,” said Angelica Berrie, President, Russell Berrie Foundation. “From activists fighting injustice and systemic inequities to neighbors helping neighbors struggling during the pandemic, it’s an honor to celebrate this remarkable group of individuals as part of our 25th anniversary celebration of the awards and Russ’ legacy.” 

The Making a Difference Award was established in 1997 by the late Russell Berrie, a New Jersey based entrepreneur and CEO of Russ Berrie & Company. The Award honors individuals who make New Jersey a better place — make a substantial impact on the lives of others through service to others, to their communities, or by an act of extraordinary heroism. A total of 380 individuals have been recognized and more than $3.75 million has been awarded.  

A top prize of $50,000, four awards of $25,000 and 14 awards of $7,500 were presented this year to awardees, each of whom has an inspiring story to tell about how they made a difference. The Award program is supported by the Russell Berrie Foundation and managed by Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Link to register for virtual 25th annual ceremony, May 7th at 11:30 am 

Link to Award Home Page: 


Since the organization’s founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking, and people power to the table. 


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