EWG Establishes Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Technology and Digital Mobilization

Honors 20th Anniversary and Vice President of Technology Chris Campbell
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For Immediate Release: 
Friday, June 14, 2013

Washington, D.C. – In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Environmental Working Group, the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, has established its own “genius” award to honor Chris Campbell, EWG Vice President of Technology, for his two decades of contributions to the public good.  

Campbell signed on at EWG before Internet research was in common use by non-governmental organizations and the general public. He has spearheaded computer analysis and data-driven investigations that have helped shape public policy on a range of issues, including federal farm subsidies, uranium mining, and pesticides in baby food and produce.  

Campbell’s earliest project employed floppy disks and a nine-track drive to give the public easy access to U.S. Department of Agriculture data that tracked taxpayer dollars through the farm subsidy system.  EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database, which affords readers a way to conduct interactive searches of complex USDA data, has been searched more than 441 million times since November 2004.   Campbell also compiles USDA and Food and Drug Administration data to produce EWG’s annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The guide, which ranks fruits and vegetables based on their total pesticide loads, has helped millions of consumers reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals.

"Technology is part of our organization’s DNA,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s president and co-founder “We have been using the power of information to protect the environment and public health since we started, and Chris Campbell has been with us from the beginning. We wouldn't be who we are or in the vanguard of social change without Chris's creativity, technological skills and diligence.”

To recognize Campbell's tremendous contributions to issues of enormous importance to all Americans, EWG has established the annual Chris Campbell Award for Excellence in Information Technology and Digital Mobilization in the Nonprofit Community.

EWG’s first honoree is Michael Silberman, global director of the Digital Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace, an independent direct-action environmental organization.  The lab works with allies in 42 countries to roll out creative new means of communicating, organizing and fundraising online.

Prior to Greenpeace, Silberman served as the National Meetup Director for Howard Dean's presidential run in 2004, one of the first presidential campaigns to use technology for social mobilization.  He co-founded EchoDitto, a technology and engagement firm and served such clients as the United Nations World Food Programme, Service Employees International Union and the Iraq and Afghan Veterans Against the War.

"I am honored to receive this award recognizing Chris, a man who pioneered the use of data science to create social change decades before anyone was talking about Big Data," Silberman said. "Anyone who can lay claim to literally plugging his organization into the Internet is a hero in my book."

Follow Michael Silberman on Twitter: @silbatron