Mendenhall selected as 2020 ESA regional policy award winner

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) has named Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall as its 13th annual Regional Policy Award recipient. The ESA award recognizes an elected or appointed local policymaker whose record reflects the use of ecological science to inform policy decisions.

The 2020 ESA Annual Meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Salt Lake City Aug. 3-6, but the meeting moved to an all-virtual format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“ESA is honored to recognize Mayor Mendenhall this year,” said ESA President Osvaldo Sala. “The Society applauds her life-long commitment to science-based advocacy for clean air both as an elected official and as a private citizen.”

“I’m so grateful to the Ecological Society of America for this award. Receiving this vote of confidence from this trusted and exemplary organization is a true honor. It is an inspiration for me to do more and to continue to make this work a top priority,” said Mayor Mendenhall.

Salt Lake City residents elected Mayor Mendenhall in 2019 after she had served six years on the City Council, once as its chair. Before becoming an elected official, Mendenhall was the first employee of Utah Moms for Clean Air and in 2009, she co-founded the air quality non-profit Breathe Utah. This organization works to improve air quality through science-based policy advocacy and education.

Mendenhall and Breathe Utah’s efforts led to state legislation requiring air quality lessons in the state driver education curriculum. She has also served on the state’s Air Quality Board and earned a master’s in environmental science in 2018 to inform policy. As mayor, she is expanding the city’s urban forestry program, public transportation and trails for biking and pedestrian use to improve air quality.

ESA President Osvaldo Sala awarded the 13th Regional Policy Award in a video message followed by remarks from Mayor Mendenhall.