Photo above from the Keep America Beautiful National Awards 2020 ceremony in Memphis, TN.

STAMFORD, Conn. (Feb. 9, 2021) – Keep America Beautiful®, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, today announced it has recognized 35 community organizations and individuals through its 2020 National Awards program.

The Keep America Beautiful National Awards program celebrates the work of its nearly 700 community-based affiliates, millions of volunteers and participants, and corporate and community partners for their commitment to end littering, improve recycling, and beautify America’s communities.

Winners were selected in the following categories:

  • Individual Achievement Awards: Lady Bird Johnson Award; Sue Smith Professional Leadership Award
  • Innovation Awards: State and Local Affiliate Innovation Awards
  • State Agency Partnership Recognition Awards

“This year more than ever, it is an honor to celebrate our National Award winners and highlight the inspiring affiliates, individuals, and initiatives across our organization,” said Helen Lowman, PhD, Keep America Beautiful President and CEO. “Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, our affiliate network, volunteers, and partners worked even harder to demonstrate dedication to improving the communities they serve.”

Willie Cato of Midway, GA, and Sue House of Tampa, FL received the Lady Bird Johnson Award. This award is named after the former first lady for engaging our nation in recognizing that aesthetic beauty is directly related to a better quality of life and is given to outstanding volunteers for exceptional leadership with at least 10 years of experience in helping their local community. Since 2003, Willie Cato has been on the Advisory Board for Keep Liberty Beautiful (KLB) in Georgia. Cato has created a strong foundation for the focus areas for KLB in litter prevention and recycling and waste reduction by implementing roadside cleanups and developing awareness of the importance of recycling in local schools and businesses. Sue House has been affiliated with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful since 1991, serving as a board member for part of that time. During her time as a board member, House chaired, coordinated, and helped accomplish some of the largest volunteer plantings and beautification projects in Tampa.

The Sue Smith Professional Leadership Award, named in honor of the Keep America Beautiful former director of education and current Keep America Beautiful-Chicago Interim Director, was presented to Sherri Palmer of Keep Columbus Beautiful in Ohio, Ray Scott of Keep California Beautiful, and Krista Ziller of Keep Stockwell Beautiful in Indiana. Sherri Palmer is a manager of Keep Columbus Beautiful (KCB) and serves as a board member of Keep Ohio Beautiful. Palmer has been active in improving her local community for nearly 40 years, including assisting KCB in creating KickButt Columbus, a citywide cleanup program. Ray Scott demonstrates impact at the local, state, and national level serving as president of Keep California Beautiful, board member of Keep Bakersfield Beautiful, and member of several Keep America Beautiful committees. Krista Ziller was instrumental in improving the small rural community of Stockwell, Indiana by starting Keep Stockwell Beautiful, notably the smallest national award-winning Keep America Beautiful affiliate.

“Without regard for the obstacles of 2020, we received many nominations deserving of such an award,” said Sue Smith. “It is with pride we announce the three [individuals] who will be named this year for their Professional Leadership in the Keep America Beautiful network.  [Sherri Palmer, Ray Scott, and Kris Ziller are] great Americans, good hard-working people, who love where they live and have gone the extra mile for us all.”

A digital campaign, called Community Heroes, will showcase the 2020 National Award winners throughout 2021. They will also be recognized at a ceremony later this year.

For a complete list of Keep America Beautiful National Awards recipients, click here.

About Keep America Beautiful

Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, inspires and educates people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful strives to End Littering, Improve Recycling, and Beautify America’s Communities. We believe everyone has a right to live in a clean, green, and beautiful community, and shares a responsibility to contribute to that vision. 

The Keep America Beautiful Model for Change – steeped in education, research, and behavioral science – is the cornerstone of Keep America Beautiful. We empower generations of community and environmental stewards with volunteer programs, hands-on experiences, educational curricula, practical advice, and other resources. The organization is driven by the work and passion of nearly 700 Keep America Beautiful affiliates, millions of volunteers, and the collaborative support of corporate partners, social and civic service organizations, academia, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals. Join us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube. Donate and take action at


Published by
February 9, 2021

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