FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. — Sam Schwartz, CEO, Sam Schwartz Engineering, was named the recipient of the 2012 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award, an award recognizing outstanding leaders in the A/E/P and environmental consulting industry.
Schwartz has contended with a number of ethically and emotionally trying situations, always emerging as a brave decision maker. Schwartz faced scorn from merchants, commuters and the mayor, when as chief engineer overseeing bridges in New York City in 1988, he closed the Williamsburg Bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn. His actions are widely recognized to have saved thousands of lives though Schwartz had to act at expense of his career with the DOT, which ended two years later as a result of fallout from the closure.
Schwartz acted heroically again on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when he narrowly escaped the danger of the falling towers and quickly created and enacted a plan to get his 30 employees and his family to safety. Though he lost six colleagues in the tragedy, was without a home for two weeks and had to move his office out of the evacuation zone, Schwartz set up a plan to keep his firm working so transportation could be rebuilt to his devastated World Trade Center neighborhood.
In other times during his career, Schwartz founded two NYC Public Schools dedicated to studying cities and their infrastructure and coined the word “gridlock.”
A few other exemplary applicants this year included:
• Michael K. Kuppinger, executive vice president, Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD), who has served as a selfless mentor within ESD and created an environment that fosters the development of each individual’s strengths. Mike’s leadership and nurturing abilities became evident after his heart attack in November 2010.
• D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., president and CEO of engineering firm Klotz Associates, Inc. As president of ASCE he led the association in defining infrastructure as a priority. He appeared on every major television network and was a major voice for addressing our crumbling infrastructure.
• Ralph Hawkins, chairman and CEO, of HKS, Inc., a 29-office, 900-plus employee firm. Ralph was diagnosed with kidney disease at age 40 and had a kidney transplant. The transplant was a life-changing event that reinforced his determination to continue to be a leader at HKS and deepened his dedication to his family. When asked the open-ended question in the Best Firms To Work For employee survey, “What do you like most about working at HKS?” employees simply wrote “Ralph Hawkins.”