Melissa Howell, executive director of the Kentucky Clean Cities Partnership, was honored with the Benjamin Watson Inspirational Award on August 24 in Golden, Colo., where representatives from nearly 100 coalitions across the country gathered for the annual Clean Cities Coordinator Workshop.

The award is presented annually to the Clean Cities coordinator who provides inspiration and motivation to other coordinators and who strives to create a fun, engaging, and unified team spirit within the program. Howell was presented with the award by fellow coordinator Lisa Thurstin (Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition), on behalf of the Clean Cities Coordinator Council. Howell was chosen as this year’s award recipient for her years of devotion to Clean Cities efforts and because her work and attitude reflect the program’s values and mission.

“Melissa embodies the true spirit of the Clean Cities program: a natural leader with an impressive project list,” Thurstin said. “She embodies the spirit and criteria of the award.”

Other coordinators added that Howell is constantly helping the alternative fuel industry, spending countless hours supporting the Clean Cities mission. She is generous with her time for coordinators who have reached out for help and suggestions. Just as importantly, they noted, the advice and assistance she offers is always valuable.

Melissa is retiring this year, after almost 25 years as a mainstay of Clean Cities.

“Melissa is our longest serving coordinator,” said Dennis Smith, director of the program. “She has been a persistent force to be reckoned with.”

Howell has led the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition (KCFC) since 1994, with the governance of Officers and a Board of Directors elected annually. Howell is based in Louisville, where she coordinates projects and programs and manages the fiscal well-being of the KCFC.

“It’s been such a gift,” Howell said. “My life is so much better for being a part of this program.”

Nominations for the award come directly from coordinators, in a process overseen by the Clean Cities Coordinator Council. Coordinators then vote to select the winner.

The award is named after Benjamin Watson, a founding member of Clean Cities and long-time coordinator of Kansas City Regional Clean Cities. Watson’s engaging personality and spirit left an indelible stamp on the Clean Cities program and established the true character of the organization.