Trailblazers Who are Solving the Biggest Threats to the Great Lakes Region

The Fund is celebrating leaders and the innovative use of scientific, philanthropic, organizing, and financial approaches to tackle some of the biggest threats facing the Great Lakes basin today. The 2021 Great Lakes Leadership Award goes to trailblazers who are driving change to improve the health of the Great Lakes.

Meet our 2021 Leadership Award winners:

Allegra Cangelosi
Senior Researcher, Penn State Behrend

Allegra Cangelosi pioneered the field of ballast treatment technology, which helps the shipping industry limit the transfer of invasive species into the Great Lakes. Her contributions have helped reduce the introduction of new invasive species into the Great Lakes by more than 90 percent.

Rob Collier
Retired President, Council of Michigan Foundations

Rob Collier created the first-ever network of community foundation environmental programs in Great Lakes coastal cities, which launched a national movement of similar efforts. Before retiring as head of the Council of Michigan Foundations, he helped community foundations stretching from Duluth to Niagara connect their work and their priorities to the health of the Great Lakes.

Crystal M.C. Davis
Vice President of Policy & Strategic Engagement, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Crystal M.C. Davis is reorienting environmentalism in the Great Lakes region to focus on the needs of the people who live there. Her approach focuses on fair and equitable access to the benefits that come with restoring the ecological health of the system—like access to clean drinking water and the removal of toxins from the lakes and surrounding waterways.

Eric Letsinger
Founder and CEO, Quantified Ventures

Eric Letsinger has led the field of impact finance in the environmental space. Using innovative performance-based funding vehicles like environmental impact bonds and green bonds, he has created a new way for Great Lakes communities to finance green infrastructure and improve water quality.

David M. Lodge
Francis J. DiSalvo Director, Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability

David M. Lodge is known as the “CSI Great Lakes Guy” for developing genetic testing tools to prevent invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes. He also created forensic tests and other tools to stop the spread of existing invaders.

Sherri A. Mason, Ph.D.
Sustainability Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Sherri A. Mason, Ph.D., has elevated the awareness of – and action to stop – microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Her efforts prompted major companies to change their production process and led the Food and Drug Administration to ban plastic microbeads in face creams and shampoos.


Each of this year’s Great Lakes Leadership Award winners is receiving a $10,000 prize in recognition of their efforts to pioneer new solutions ripe for adaptation and adoption to tackle future challenges.

We applaud this year’s winners and encourage others who are working to solve complex challenges in the Great Lakes to think big and take risks.

This is the third year for the Great Lakes Leadership Award. In 2019 we recognized innovation in water technology, and in 2020 we recognized top storytellers in the region who we featured on our Great Lakes, Great Stories podcast.

The Great Lakes Protection Fund is the impact investor for the Great Lakes. Over the past three decades, we have turned big ideas into big impact by investing $91 million into projects and teams that are pioneering new technologies, practices, and financing strategies to restore and protect the health of the Great Lakes. We encourage you to contact us about your big idea.

For further information:
Amy Elledge 847-425-8190
aelledge@glpf.org