Longtime Palo Alto environmentalists, Kay and Walt Hays will be honored by the local nonprofit Acterra for their lifelong commitment to preserving the planet's health. The couple, married since 1957, is well known in the community for its leadership and dedication to community action toward a healthy environment for all.
"Walt and Kay Hays have worked for decades to make Palo Alto a leading city in environmental policy and practice, bring environmental awareness and action to our schools, and make the world a better place," Acterra's Executive Director Adam Stern said in a press release. "Their life work has enabled people to learn from one another and create peaceful communities everywhere."
Walt worked hard to make sustainability a priority in Palo Alto by pushing for many environmentally-conscious policies. Measure E, which undedicated 10 acres of Byxbee Park to provide a site for anaerobic digestion of Palo Alto's sewage sludge, was passed with his help, according to a press release. He currently serves as chairman of the Sustainable Schools Committee, which works to reduce waste in schools, introduce composting, save energy and water and promote solar electricity. He also co-chaired Palo Alto's Zero Waste Task Force and chaired its Green Ribbon Task Force on Climate Protection.
He is currently the president of the Waddell Creek Association working to interpret the Rancho del Oso section of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County. He also serves on the Development Committee of the Sempervirens Fund, an organization that works to protect redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Previously, he was the president of the Rotary Club of Palo Alto, where he also served as the chairman of the World Community Service Committee. In this role, he managed international grants for programs, including reforestation, fuel-efficient stoves in Central America, water harvesting in India and composting toilets in Haiti.
In the 1980s, the couple teamed up as activists for the Beyond War Foundation, which promotes voices for peace. Kay Hays managed the Beyond War Award, given to those making significant progress to move the world beyond war. Specifically, the couple worked to bring stability and peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While both were active members in the Foundation for Global Community, she acted as managing editor for their bimonthly magazine, "Timeline." The foundation is a local educational and fundraising nonprofit that emphasizes an individual's role in social change for a better and healthier environment.
Over the last 60 years, the Hays have been celebrated as pioneers of the current sustainability agenda and leaders dedicated to action toward a cleaner community.
"Together, they model global citizenry at its best, and teach us that we all have a part to play in our community and in our world, " Stern said. "We are delighted to honor them this year."
Acterra's spring fundraiser, Party for the Planet is honoring the Hays and will be held on Thursday, April 20 at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto.