Winners of the first Great Lakes Changemaker Award Announced

Cleveland, Ohio – At the fifth Great Lakes Economic Forum, which is being hosted in Cleveland from May 6-8, the Council of the Great Lakes Region had the distinct pleasure of presenting its first Great Lakes Changemaker Awards to the following recipients:

  • SC Johnson
  • Congressman Dave Joyce, 14th District, Ohio
  • Ambassador Bruce Heyman (retired) and Vicki Heyman
  • Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
  • Swim Drink Fish Canada

The Great Lakes region, straddling the United States-Canada border and shared by eight states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is North America’s economic engine and a global hub for manufacturing, learning and innovation, financial services, food production, and trade. In fact, with roughly US$6.0 trillion in economic activity, if the region were a country, it would represent the third largest economy in the world.

With 20 per cent of the worlds surface freshwater, the Great Lakes, or North America’s inland sea, makeup a globally significant ecosystem. They sustain thousands of unique habitats, plants, and animals. The lakes also provide drinking water to over 40 million Americans and Canadians living in the Great Lakes watershed, and support the regional economy, from marine commerce and hydropower, to fishing and recreational boating.

The Council created the Great Lakes Changemaker Award in 2019 to recognize individuals, companies, nonprofit organizations, or academics in the region that are leading the way in strengthening the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the binational Great Lakes Region, and who are playing a leadership role internationally on a range of economic and environmental issues.


“The binational Great Lakes are a crucial economic region and watershed for the United States and Canada. Through the new Great Lakes Changemaker Award, the Council is pleased to be able to recognize people, organizations, and companies each year who share our vision of creating the most prosperous, innovative, sustainable, livable, and welcoming region in the world.” – Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region

“As environmentalists and family business owners, my parents believed that individuals, nonprofits, government, and the business community must work together towards sustainability: balancing the environmental, economic, and social interests of current and future generations. My parents envisioned clean Great Lakes for their grandchildren to enjoy, and sustainability is especially critical in the Great Lakes region, which represents 20% of the world’s fresh surface water, is the engine of a $6 trillion international economy, and is home to over 40 million people. It is an honor for us to receive this inaugural award.” – John Erb, CEO and Chair, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

“The Great Lakes are vitally important natural resources that impact the health, economy, and quality of life for tens of millions of people in the U.S. and Canada. We are deeply appreciative to the Council of the Great Lakes Region, both for the honor of this award and for their tireless leadership and support of the Great Lakes region’s ecological and economic recovery. When leaders from all levels of government, industry, academia and the non-profit sector collaborate and find meaningful solutions together through the Council, great things can happen.” – Former United States Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman

“A lifelong resident of America’s northern coast, I have never been shy about my support for the Great Lakes. As a father, I shared the importance of protecting the Lakes with my children, and now as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I have the honor of advocating for them in Congress. The Great Lakes are an invaluable natural resource and economic powerhouse, and I am proud to fight to ensure we make the investments necessary to treat them as the national treasure they are. I am humbled to be one of the recipients of the first-ever Great Lakes Changemaker Award and am eager to live up to the title!” – Congressman Dave Joyce, 14th District, Ohio

“Helping ensure a strong, vibrant Great Lakes region is a part of SC Johnson’s commitment to making our world a better place. The long-term economic, social and environmental health of this region is incredibly important to not only North America, but the world, and SC Johnson is proud to play a role in this vital effort. On behalf of our Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson and everyone at SC Johnson, we thank the Council of the Great Lakes Region for this prestigious recognition.” – Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability for SC Johnson.

“Over 40-million people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, employment, recreation, tourism and economic prosperity. This watershed is the lifeline for so many of us. The Great Lakes are our Rocky Mountains. It’s a true honour to receive the Great Lakes Changemaker award. Swim Drink Fish continues to strive for a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future.” – Mark Mattson, Founder and Waterkeeper, Swim Drink Fish

About the Great Lakes Economic Forum

Launched in 2015 in Chicago by the Council of the Great Lakes Region, the annual Great Lakes Economic Forum is quickly becoming the foremost gathering of leaders from all levels of government, industry, academia, and the non-profit sector in the Great Lakes who are committed to finding new ways of creating a more favorable climate for economic growth in the Region while improving the prosperity and well-being of the Region’s citizens and protecting our shared environment for future generations.


Mark Fisher
President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region
613-668-2044 /

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