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Palo Alto 'Tall Tree' award winners announced

Linda Lenoir, Megan Swezey Fogarty, Canopy and IDEO recognized for achievements by Chamber of Commerce, Palo Alto Weekly

Palo Alto's 2008 Tall Tree Awards will honor individuals and organizations for their work with the environment and children. School-district nurse Linda Lenoir, youth-service coordinator Megan Swezey Fogarty, urban-forestry group Canopy and product-design company IDEO will receive the awards Thursday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Palo Alto.

The awards, founded in 1980, are sponsored by Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Alto Weekly.

Lenoir was nominated as "outstanding professional/business person" by Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss.

Colleagues in the medical field have called her a "one-woman show." Lenoir has often worked with extremely limited resources to maintain high standards of student health within Palo Alto's 17 schools, according to Becky Beacom, manager of health education at Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Lenoir sits on a number of Santa Clara County boards and committees, including the Family YMCA board, and served on the city's human relations commission from 2003 to 2007.

She was instrumental in creating the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Teen Health Line, a resource for Bay Area adolescents. She also initiated a statewide school-nurse continuing-education conference at Lucile Packard in the 1990s.

She also took part in the Countywide Pandemic Flu Preparedness Committee, developing a school-response protocol to a potential outbreak, Kniss said.

Lenoir's commitment to Palo Alto school children has become a personal mission, Kniss said. When a needy mother came to the district office to register her four children in Palo Alto schools, Lenoir became the mother's mentor. When the family became homeless, she temporarily took them in at her two-bedroom apartment.

Swezey Fogarty, the postgraduate and alumni program director at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford, has been involved for more than 20 years in nonprofit program development and management of organizations focused on involving young people in national and community service.

She will receive the Tall Tree award for "outstanding citizen/volunteer."

She has been the teen coordinator for the City of Palo Alto and director of Youth Service California. She co-chaired the "Campaign for Excellence" to pass the Palo Alto Unified School District Measure A campaign and currently works with a grassroots group on library improvements.

A former student leader at Palo Alto High School, she went on to attend Stanford University. She led a $3 million capital campaign for her local church and has worked as board co-president at the Mid-Peninsula YWCA.

"I can only describe Megan's efforts as absolutely 'tireless.' No task was too big or too small. If it needed doing, Megan made sure it got done, often doing it herself," Barbara Spreng, the 2006 Tall Tree "outstanding citizen" recipient, wrote in her nominating letter.

Canopy, founded in 1996, will be honored as "outstanding nonprofit" for the organization's work in urban-forestry in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. In 2007, the group planted more than 1,000 trees in the two cities, according to its annual report.

With its East Palo Alto Tree Initiative, Canopy has trained and employed at-risk youth and hopes the East Palo Alto trees will remove 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air in the next 40 years. The group also fostered a Mountain View tree program.

The organization's tree-planting events involve all generations of volunteers, from Girl Scouts to Rotarians, according to a supporting letter by communications consultant Nancy Peterson, a former board member and Canopy advisor. The group has worked to educate the public on the benefits and issues surrounding urban trees and answer questions through a hotline and arborist-guided Tree Walks. Canopy hosts a mature- and young-tree-care program and "ivy busters" days, during which more than 100 volunteers remove invasive ivy from around trees in city parks.

"The trees that Canopy has planted and cared for have helped to improve our city by cleaning the air we breathe, shading our homes and streets, reducing our energy bills, providing beauty, increasing our property values, reducing pollution and noise and more. Palo Alto would not be the city it is without its trees," Palo Alto architect Tony Carrasco wrote in his nominating letter.

Also lauded for its work to reduce the effects of global warming, Palo Alto product-design firm IDEO will be honored as "outstanding business." The company volunteered a team of facilitators to help the Mayor's Green Ribbon Task Force on Climate Protection create a report on ways the city and business can reduce carbon emissions to meet the Kyoto Protocol.

IDEO has worked with the city in other environmental areas such as supporting the Chamber's Palo Alto Business Goes Green program, working with the city's Sustainable Business Initiative by purchasing 100 percent of the company's energy through Palo Alto Green and supporting the city's Zero Waste goal by composting and creating alternative transportation.

IDEO has used its ingenuity to create the Sustainability Lab within the company to address environmental issues in all aspects of what the company does, according to a company list of community contributions. IDEO is also involved in helping the Palo Alto Art Center develop materials to raise $6.5 million in a capital campaign to renovate and expand the Art Center.

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