The Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) is pleased to present this year’s Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership to Paul Costello, Executive Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD). The award will be presented at VNRC’s annual meeting on Thursday, September 20 at American Flatbread, Lareau Farm Inn in Waitsfield.
Paul Costello is a dynamic leader and powerful advocate who helps Vermont communities create prosperous and sustainable futures. From working for policy change to spur investment in farm, food, and forestry enterprises, to helping bring broadband internet and digital economy development projects to over 90 Vermont towns, Costello has promoted economic vitality and stewardship of Vermont’s natural assets in all corners of the state.
Costello is a leader on climate change as well, and at VCRD began an initiative to make Vermont a national hub for climate economy development. He has so far convened two Vermont Climate Economy Summits and assembled a climate economy council, which developed an action plan to create jobs and boost prosperity while reducing carbon impacts.
VNRC has awarded the Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership since 2006. Established in honor of the late Arthur “Art” Gibb, who was first elected to the Vermont Legislature in 1962 and went on to be deeply involved in passing key environmental and land use legislation, the award honors a Vermont resident who has made a lasting contribution to his or her community, region or state in advancing smart growth policies.
“Paul Costello epitomizes the characteristics that defined Art Gibb’s life,” said VNRC Executive Director Brian Shupe. “He has committed himself to working across Vermont to make the state, and the individual communities that comprise it, a better place. I am really pleased to recognize him for that work.”
The Arthur Gibb Award will be co-presented to Costello by Megan Camp, Vice President and Program Director of Shelburne Farms, who is the current Chair of VCRD’s Board and a former VNRC Board member.
Costello, a lifelong Vermonter, grew up in Burlington and obtained a BA from the University of Vermont. He worked in human services, as a manager for the Middlebury Natural Foods Cooperative, and as a carpenter before beginning doctorate course work in intellectual history at McGill University, while lecturing at Saint Michael’s College, UVM, and McGill. After earning his PhD, Costello worked for five years at Central Vermont Adult Basic Education (CVABE), an organization that provides literacy instruction for adults and teens in Washington, Lamoille, and Orange counties, serving first as a regional coordinator and then as development director. He took the helm of VCRD in 2000.
Nathaniel Hausman, Project Director for the Clean Energy States Alliance, wrote in his nomination of Costello: “Paul understands the imperative of preserving Vermont’s land and traditions while at the same time promoting innovation and economic development.”
Sarah Waring, Executive Director of the Center for Agricultural Economy, endorsed Costello’s collaborative, people-centered approach to community problem solving. “Paul has dedicated his adult life to finding ways to protect the civic engagement in Vermont, and he’s done it by building bridges with advocates on both sides of the aisle, and perhaps more importantly, with supporters on Main Street and in the sugar house,” she said. “Paul’s strategy to create leadership teams, local facilitators, and networks of accountability enables self-actualization in our Vermont communities.”
Arthur Gibb was deeply involved in passing legislation to ban billboards, enact the state’s bottle deposit law, regulate junkyards, and modernize statutes governing local and regional planning. He served on the commission that laid the groundwork for Act 250 and served twelve years on the Vermont Environmental Board, including one year as Chair.
For more information about the Vermont Natural Resources Council, and the award (including a list of past recipients) visit vnrc.org. To RSVP to the VNRC Annual Meeting, where the award will be presented, email Stephanie Gomory at email@example.com or call her at 802-223-2328, x121.