Alumnus Honored for Environmental Activism

Seasoned litigator and "environmental warrior" Walter Benjamin Fisherow '68 has received a Service to America medal -- one of the most prestigious awards honoring America's civil servants -- for helping to cut air pollution nationwide.


The Service to America medals celebrate public servants whose work makes the world safer, healthier and greener. As the deputy section chief in the environmental enforcement section of the U.S. Department of Justice's environmental and natural resources division, Fisherow oversees dozens of lawyers who help enforce the federal Clean Air Act. Their work has resulted in the reduction of toxic pollutants generated by coal-fired power plants by nearly 2 million tons a year.

As a result, Fisherow, who graduated from Occidental with an A.B. in psychology, received the Service to America medal for justice and law enforcement. The medals are given by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to revitalize the federal government.

"It's great to have a job in which you don't just get to talk about doing something good for your country, you actually get to do it," Fisherow said. "It's a gift and a privilege. And now, on top of it all, a medal."

He was one of nine medal recipients honored Sept. 23 at a gala in Washington, D.C. The honorees were also recognized on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) as part of his "Great Federal Employees" initiative with the Partnership to honor "unsung government heroes."

Fisherow and the other medal winners were nominated by colleagues familiar with their work and selected by a committee that included members of Congress, senior Washington journalists, and the presidents of George Washington University and the Rockefeller Foundation. Nearly 400 nominations were submitted for medal consideration this year.

"The recipients of the Service to America medals exemplify the very best of our public servants," said Max Stier, Partnership president and CEO. "The remarkable work that they do touches our lives each and every day--from protecting our veterans to reducing air pollution."

The Service to America medalists boast achievements in international affairs, homeland security, health research, patient care, reducing homelessness, and helping Americans avoid foreclosure. The medalists come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the CIA, the National Cancer Institute, and other federal agencies.

National sponsors for the Service to America medals are DuPont, GEICO, and the Graduate School.

For more information about the Service to America medals, go to

For more information about Occidental College, go to