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The 2016 AAG Gilbert White Public Service Honors are awarded to Carrie Stokes and Aaron Wolf.

Carrie Stokes has been selected as one of two recipients of this year’s AAG Gilbert White Public Service Award. Stokes epitomizes the ‘geographer as leader’ as demonstrated by her unwavering commitment to public service through advancing geography within and beyond government, Through her years of advocacy, leadership and action to promote the use of remote sensing and GIS to inform international development, humanitarian assistance, and climate change mitigation, she has had a profound impact on government policy and its on-the-ground effectiveness around the world, from Bangladesh to Central America. As an unsurpassed ambassador for geography and its ability to transform development programming, she deserves our highest commendation as an “enabler of dreams.”

Aaron Wolf has been selected as one of two recipients of the award given in Gilbert White’s honor. Throughout the world and in multiple contexts (both academic, governmental, and policy), Wolf is known for bringing a humanitarian, benevolent approach to his work on transboundary water resources. He combines environmental science with strategies from conflict/dispute resolution and spiritual teaching from a variety of faiths. He has also established himself as a ‘meticulous scholar’ driven by a ‘sense of duty’. He was recently recognized for his work to motivate a generation of once doubting decision makers entrenched in Middle East water politics. He is indeed a giant in the field.

Citations for Carrie Stokes and Aaron Wolf follow.


Carrie Stokes, United States Agency for International Development

Carrie Stokes

Carrie Stokes is awarded the 2016 Association of American Geographers Gilbert White Public Service award in recognition of her tireless efforts to promote geography and mobilize the power of geographic insights in the U.S. government’s development and humanitarian work. Carrie established and now runs the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) GeoCenter, a major initiative dedicated to applying geographical analysis to international development programming.

Carrie also currently serves as Geographer of USAID, the first to hold this position. Under her tireless leadership, the GeoCenter has become a widely respected “model of success” that has provided unprecedented geographical analysis to support development interventions around the globe. Carrie’s geospatial expertise, leadership skills, and “bridge-building” talents have been fundamental to ensuring that spatial insights inform all aspects of development action.

Prior to establishing the GeoCenter, Carrie developed and managed SERVIR, a partnership between USAID and NASA devoted to building developing countries’ capacities to use geospatial technologies to inform policy, particularly in the context of climate change mitigation.

Carrie earned a BA in International Studies/Human and Natural Ecology from Emory University, after which she served in the Peace Corps as an Environmental Protection Volunteer in Niger. She holds a Master’s in Environmental Science from Indiana University. She subsequently worked as a climate change researcher, a GIS analyst, and an environmental educator before beginning at USAID as a global climate change specialist.

Carrie Stokes clearly embodies Gilbert White’s deep commitment to improving human welfare through social policy. For her exceptional service to geography in the public service, we honor Carrie Stokes.


Aaron Wolf, Oregon State University

Aaron Wolf

Aaron Wolf is being presented with the Gilbert White Public Service Award in recognition of his work on the important issue of global water negotiations. His work on water, conflict and peace has a particular connection to the legacy of Gilbert White in seeking peaceful approaches to international competition over natural resources and in taking geographic ideas beyond the discipline to public policy.

In addition to his position as Professor of Geography at Oregon State University, Aaron Wolf is also Director and Founding Partner, Universities Partnership for Transboundary Waters, a consortium of 10 universities on five continents which supports focused training, research, and service; Director, Program in Water Conflict Management & Transformation ; a Member of the Water Permanent Monitoring Programme, World Federation of Scientists, and Member, River and Lake Basins Ecosystems Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Over the course of his career, Wolf has been involved in developing strategies for resolving water aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including co-authoring a State Department reference text, and participating in both official and “track II” meetings between co-riparians. He is a trained mediator/facilitator and has offered workshops, facilitations, and mediation in basins throughout the world. He developed and coordinates the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, which includes a computer compilation of 400 water related treaties, negotiating notes and background material on fourteen case-studies of conflict resolution among other things.

A college from Hebrew sums up Professor Wolf’s success by identifying the factors that contribute to his success — his outstanding scholarship; his engaging personality; and his readiness to undertake extensive exhausting travel and assignments for the public good. Others have noted the way he works with colleagues, especially how he has focused his own time on understanding the potential role of spirituality in understanding international problem solving-a focus on positive transformation.

He has been described as a ‘consummate professional geographer.’ His contributions to public service are an integral part of his research – others might say his life. What may be of particular interest says one of his nominees is his special gift to motivate a generation of once-doubting decision-makers entrenched in Middle East water politics-Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli policy-makers alike.

Wolf has worked relentlessly to further peaceful solution to problems that affect countries joined together by the fate of nature. For these many reasons the 2016 Gilbert White Public Service Award is presented to Dr. Aaron Wolf for his extraordinary service to the discipline throughout his career.