The Ken Zarker Award

In Honor of Ken Zarker, Toxics Use Reduction Champion  

About the Award

We initiated the Ken Zarker Award to help inspire the next generation of changemakers to follow in Ken’s footsteps and realize the vision of the IC2 to promote the development and use of safer chemicals and products for a clean environment, healthy communities, and a vital economy. The award program is hosted by the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2). 

About Ken

Ken Zarker was a driving force behind safer chemicals policy at the state, interstate and national level that will benefit generations to come. In his own state of Washington, he worked tirelessly to build resources and staff to create flagship programs in pollution prevention, alternatives assessment, ingredient disclosure and more. Ken was a cancer survivor and sadly succumbed to a sudden heart attack at 62. He is survived by his wife Denise and his children Ethan and Alex. He leaves behind too many friends and admirers to name.

Ken was a founding member and chaired the IC2 in 2015 and 2016. He helped lead the initial IC2 planning team 2008 until 2011, when IC2 was formally launched. He provided critical support in developing IC2’s governance structure and led outreach and recruitment activities for the organization. Ken spearheaded countless successful collaborations and was passionate about bringing people together to work on a common goal. He prioritized funding for and led the planning for IC2’s first in-person meeting 2015 in Olympia, WA, providing an important catalyst for IC2’s strategic planning and growth.

Ken graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Environmental Management. He wrote a paper his senior year that led him to an internship with the Bureau of Solid Waste Management at the Texas Department of Health in 1982, just as the RCRA Hazardous Waste program was launching in Texas.

He worked for Texas State government for 23 years on various environmental programs, including hazardous waste and pollution prevention. In late 2005, he accepted a position as a Section Manager at the Washington Department of Ecology where he led the State’s Pollution Prevention and Regulatory Assistance section in the Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program for nearly 16 years.

He was a key player in the formation of Northwest Green Chemistry and served as an advisor to the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council. His pollution prevention activities included, but were amazingly not limited to, chairing the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable and participating in the North American Pollution Prevention Partnership, U.S. EPA Forum on State and Tribal Toxics Action, and the Environmental Council of the States Cross Media Committee. He instigated the development of the Western States green chemistry MOU, engaged with EPA (i.e., on the Toxics Substances Control Act, Safer Choice, and much more), and initiated the WA Green Chemistry Roadmap. He was a master at networking and securing funding for innovative, cutting- edge initiatives and projects. As with all of his endeavors, Ken represented the IC2 with passion, intelligence, and dedication. He brought an entrepreneurial can-do attitude to the toxics use reduction and pollution prevention work that he supported. Ken’s many other contributions to IC2 are too numerous to list here. We miss his smile, optimistic spirit, passion, and insights.


The sources of funding for the Ken Zarker Fund are individual (tax-deductible) and organizational sponsorships. These funds are earmarked exclusively for the Fund. If an IC2 Member agency or Supporting Member organization chooses to support the Fund, it will be in addition to their annual dues payments and earmarked specifically as a sponsorship for the Fund. These sources of funding are the only ones that will be available to support the Fund. NEWMOA/IC2 will not utilize any of its annual dues to support the Fund.

Checks: To donate via check, please make the check payable to the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (or ‘NEWMOA’), note the ‘Ken Zarker Fund‘ in the memo section of the check and send to:

Attn: Ken Zarker Fund
89 South Street Suite 600
Boston, MA 02111

Stripe Donations. To donate to the Zarker Fund online via Stripe, use this link or scan the QR code below with your smartphone to make a tax-deductible donation to this award. Processing fees for using Stripe will be deducted from the donation by 2.9% + $0.30.


Credit Cards, Invoices or Enhanced Dues Payments: To donate via credit card over the phone, receive a sponsorship invoice in advance of providing funding or add a sponsorship amount to membership dues payment, please contact NEWMOA Office Manager Lois Makina with your request at

Agencies and organizations pay their dues based on an annual invoice that they can pay via credit card, electronic deposit, or checks. IC2 has a history of working with state agencies that elect to enhance their annual IC2 dues with funds to support special requests/projects.  


Awards will subsidize some of the costs for students and young professionals to attend green chemistry, toxics use reduction, or alternatives assessment conferences or workshops. These events can be state, regional, or national in scale; they must have a minimum of one session on green chemistry, alternatives assessment (AA), toxics use reduction, pollution prevention (P2), or safer alternatives.     

The awards of either $500 or $1,000 will help support expenses associated with participating in conferences or workshops. Applicants will be asked to provide estimated expenses, e.g., transportation, lodging, registration fees, and food. 

Award recipients will be expected to share their conference or workshop experiences with their networks after attending. There are many options for doing this, including a presentation to fellow students, bulletin article or blog to be published by IC2 or partner organizations, virtual presentation to IC2 members, social media postings about the event, and more. Award recipients should provide a description of how they will share what they learned after the conference or workshop in their application. 

Application Submission 

This application process is open. Each year we aim to provide 1-3 awards. Applicants can apply for a conference or event that is held January 1-December 31 of the year being awarded.  The next deadline for applications is December 20th 2024 for conferences in 2025. Awards will be announced a few weeks after the application deadline. For questions, contact Melissa Lavoie at


Award decisions will be made by a committee of IC2 members. Applicants will be scored based on (1) meeting the basic criteria for applicants (i.e., undergraduate, or graduate student, new to the field, or young professional), (2) completeness of the application; (3) reasonableness of the requested amount of funds; and (4) responses to the questions.

Award Cycle 

This will vary with available funding; our goal is to offer awards every year for 5 years, based on available funding.