Eric D. Eberhard, Chair, Board of Trustees
I have been honored to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Udall Foundation over the past 17 years, including three years as Chair of the Board. The Congress established the Foundation in 1992 as a tribute to Mo Udall’s 30 years of service to the nation in the Congress and his lasting impact on the environment, public lands, natural resources and tribal self-governance. In 2009, the Congress amended the Foundation’s charter to recognize Stewart Udall’s service in the Congress from 1955 to 1961, his service as the Secretary of the Interior from 1961 to 1969 and his work as an environmental lawyer and author.
The Board of Trustees met for the first time in November 1994. The first classes of Udall Scholars and Native American Congressional Interns were selected in 1996. Over the years, the programs of the Foundation have grown to include Parks in Focus®; the Native Nations Institute, in cooperation with the University of Arizona; and the National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution. The Udall Center at the University of Arizona is an important partner of the Foundation. As directed by the Congress, the Center is a recipient of annual financial assistance from the Foundation.
I had the pleasure of knowing both Mo and Stewart. I attended meetings with them during their years of public service and witnessed first-hand the way they did their work. The Foundation’s programs and logo carry forward their commitment to “Civility, Integrity, Consensus.”
Mo could walk into a room full of people who were locked in passionate disagreement over language in a piece of legislation or a federal policy. He could get them to a middle ground and agreement faster than anyone I've ever known. He respected everyone he met, even when that respect was not returned. His legendary sense of humor was a potent and unfailing tool for getting everyone to work together. It was as though shared laughter, often at one of Mo’s self-deprecating remarks, could bridge all differences.
Stewart was also effective at finding agreement among people on difficult issues. His favorite tools were overwhelming evidence and relentless commitment. When others failed, I saw him find a path to justice for the Navajo families who lost their fathers, uncles and brothers as they died from exposure to the radioactive dust they inhaled in the push to mine the high grade uranium ore on the Navajo Reservation that was necessary for the nation’s drive toward the atomic bomb in World War II and the hydrogen bomb during the Cold War.
Both Mo and Stewart loved the wilderness and being in it. Long before most others did, they understood that the wild areas of the nation were vanishing and we would lose our connection to the natural world once those areas were gone. They saw that the air and water were being degraded in ways that would make the earth uninhabitable if it continued. They fought for laws and policies to protect our natural resources and environment for the generations to come. They fought to honor the treaties with the tribes, including the right of the tribes to govern themselves.
All of the members of the Board of Trustees are volunteers. I work on issues related to the Foundation every day. I was recently asked why I do that. The answer is in my admiration for the commitment and energy of the people who are continuing the work of Mo and Stewart — the staff of the Foundation, the Udall Center and the Native Nations Institute; the Udall Scholars and Interns, including the alumni, who now number more than 1,700 and who are already changing the world; the tribal, federal, state and local officials who rely on the work of the Foundation to resolve environmental conflicts or improve their governments; and, the inner-city youth who would never experience the nation’s parks and wilderness areas without Parks in Focus®. I can see the legacy of Mo and Stewart at work in all of these people and in every state in the union. I was inspired by Mo and Stewart, and I am inspired, grateful and deeply moved by all of those who are working to carry their legacy of Civility, Integrity and Consensus forward into the future.