Mayor Erin Mendenhall Selected as 2020 ESA Regional Policy Award Winner

Watch Mayor Mendenhall’s acceptance speech here:

August 3, 2020
For Immediate Release

Contact: Heidi Swanson, (202) 833-8773 ext. 211, gro.asenull@idieh

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) names The Hon. Erin Mendenhall, Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT, 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.

2020 Virtual Annual Meeting

Harnessing the ecological data revolution

August 3 – 6, 2020

Ecologists from around the world are gathering online this August for the 105th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. The plenary talks and select panels will be aired live with Q&A. Other sessions will be available for viewing on demand with asynchronous Q&A. Presenters also have the option to host a live Q&A with viewers.

The opening plenary will feature Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer, Lucas Joppa. He will discuss the advances in computing and data infrastructure that ecologists can use to address the existential challenges of responding to changing climates, ensuring resilient water supplies, sustainably feeding a rapidly growing human population and stemming an ongoing global loss of biodiversity.

Meeting plenaries and symposia will explore the meeting theme “Harnessing the ecological data revolution.” Like many science fields, ecological research is being flooded by diverse and data-rich sources of information, which is opening new avenues of research but also creating new challenges for ecologists. Scientific sessions will explore new and integrative approaches used to understand pressing ecological issues.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Heidi Swanson directly at gro.asenull@idieh.


The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 3,000 – 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at