Jeff Shoemaker Awarded "Champion of Change" Award by the White House

In 1982, the reigns of The Greenway Foundation were passed from father to son.  Jeff Shoemaker began his tenure as the executive director in June of '82 taking over from his father and the foundation's founder, Joe Shoemaker.  Over the past 30 years Jeff's unyielding passion for the South Platte River has helped to transform Denver.  In April, Jeff was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change. 

"I’m privileged to congratulate one of Denver’s 


leading environmentalists and my good friend Jeff Shoemaker for being nationally recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change. Jeff is a visionary in our community who has dedicated great passion and resources to transforming Denver’s South Platte River and its tributaries." said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, "Jeff has worked tirelessly to improve the ecological health and sustainability of one of Denver's cherished waterways. His ability to bring together business, non-profit and government sectors has led to more that $100 million of investment along the South Platte River. These investments have changed the fabric of our City and produced immeasurable economic benefits.

Here is an except from Jeff's White House blog post about his work over the past 30 years.
There are important lessons I have learned about how to create meaningful change. The willpower to complete a waterfront revitalization project exists in most cities lucky enough to have a waterfront. There is no magic recipe that converts willpower into reality, but there are elements that can be adopted. Here are a few key principles, some from my dad and some that I learned via hard knocks.
    • “Green = Green.” Environmental improvements, time and again, prove to be the best investment a community can make in its economic development. The renaissance of downtown Denver and other neighborhoods adjacent to the South Platte River are object proof. The Greenway Foundation has helped to create $100 million of green improvements that have in turn generated over $10 billion in economic development in central Denver.
    • “No power is all power.” The lack of specific, delegated authority allows the organization to work freely with public administrations and to act quickly and boldly.
    • “Show your success early.” As you prioritize projects, the first one or two must be easily-accomplished and impactful in order to gain wide support for subsequent, possibly more complex projects.
    • “Mix things that people love with the geography of your project.” Free concerts and outdoor movies, paintings and sculptures, biking and boating, volunteer river cleanups and outdoor environmental education provided free to the public schools have all served to create one-on-one support among Denver’s citizens.

Rivers run through our history and folklore and link us as a people. Denver’s urban South Platte River has been the engine that fueled the renaissance of our city’s core, and will continue to be the vehicle that drives our economic development even as its residents begin to remedy the abused and neglected parts of our city’s “greatest natural resource” – our river.

The formula for success does not exist in laws, policies, regulations and governmental programs. The real elements consist of people, ideas and dedication. Joe Shoemaker said that and I have lived it.

Thank you – now go create change!
"Jeff is most deserving of this recognition and the City of Denver is proud to congratulate him on this high honor," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.
If you would like to congratulate Jeff or share your story of the transformation of the South Platte River over the past 30 years, please join the conversation on Facebook or on Twitter @gnwyfoundation.