Graphic with words Drive Electric Awards


Nissan logo

2023 Award Winners

Linda Nicholes Lifetime Achievement Award

Will Beckett headshotWill Beckett was an early pioneer for electric vehicles, first joining the Electric Auto Association in 1974. He rejoined the organization after buying his first EV in 1994 and later served as president of EAA’s Silicon Valley Chapter for eight years. In 2001, Will was appointed to EAA’s national board and named chair of membership, overseeing the organization’s growth to 100 chapters from 2001 to 2020. During that time, he also co-founded the Central Coast Chapter and continues to serve there as vice president and treasurer. Will has organized a multitude of events, whether for National Drive Electric Week or Drive Electric Earth Day. For decades, Will has enthusiastically educated, encouraged others to get involved, created relationships with partner organizations and shared his enthusiasm for EVs. His work continues to this day.

Sen. Tom Carper headshotU.S. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware has been a longtime leader in using a variety of policy levers to fight the climate crisis, create jobs and improve public health. Since 2001, he has served on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which he now chairs. On that committee, Senator Carper was instrumental in negotiating the country’s highest fuel efficiency standards in a generation – known as CAFE standards – which are responsible for cleaner air and consumer fuel savings across the country. He also successfully secured the highway title of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, including $7.5 billion for EV charging and alternative fueling infrastructure. Estimates predict this will fund the development of nearly 400,000 new chargers in the years ahead. Not only does he believe it is our moral obligation to be good stewards of the planet but he has backed up his words with action, improving air quality, saving money for millions of Americans and driving an EV himself.

Advocate Award

Sen. Chuck Schumer headshotU.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has ambitiously championed the transition from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric. Under his leadership, the Senate passed the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021 and the game-changing Inflation Reduction Act the following year, both of which were signed into law. On the latter, Sen. Schumer worked tirelessly to reach an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin to make sure EV tax credits were included in the bill. Both pieces of legislation have greatly improved the EV landscape while creating jobs, building an American supply chain for clean vehicles, installing much-needed charging infrastructure and making EVs more accessible and affordable.

EV City Award

City of Phoenix logoThe city of Phoenix, Arizona, is a shining example for cities around the country when it comes to the creation and implementation of an electric vehicle program. Working to improve poor air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions, Mayor Kate Gallego and the city council approved a transportation electrification plan in 2021 that includes a five-step approach to prepare for 280,000 EVs in the city by 2030. Phoenix is centering EV plans around equity, building education campaigns, leading by example with its fleet purchases, increasing public charging stations and standardizing charging access through building codes. America’s fifth-largest city is also sharing resources, best practices and what it has learned with others in the region to assist other municipalities electrify their roads. Phoenix aims to be the most sustainable desert city on the planet, and its ambitious EV efforts will help the city achieve that goal.

Organization Award

Francis Energy logoFrancis Energy, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is creating a contiguous electric vehicle DC fast-charging network every 50 miles across the country to eliminate range anxiety for EV drivers and to accelerate the EV market. In 2019, Francis built the country’s first comprehensive statewide network of fast chargers in Oklahoma, ensuring that rural areas, Tribal lands, and underserved communities have reliable access to EV charging stations – a successful model for developing a nationwide public charging network. With over 150 locations already installed across Middle America, Francis has no intention of slowing down, with plans to expand to more than 30 states in the next 12 months.

Hertz logoThe Hertz Corporation is leading the charge to electrify the car rental industry by investing to create the largest EV rental fleet in North America. Hertz is building a diverse fleet of EVs spanning a wide range of categories and price points from GM, Tesla, Polestar, Kia, Hyundai, Subaru and Volvo. The company has tens of thousands of EVs for rent at more than 2,000 locations in 44 states. Additionally, Hertz rents EVs to rideshare drivers through its partnership with Uber and other rideshare platforms that are win for drivers, providing increased earnings; for customers, who enjoy a premium ride; and for communities, in the form of lower emissions. The organization also created the Hertz Electrifies program, a public-private partnership between Hertz and cities across the country aimed at accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, while creating economic opportunity and environmental benefits across communities.

EV Awareness Award

Joyce Breiner headshotJoyce Breiner co-founded Poolesville Green in 2010 and has served as its executive director for the last 11 years. The nonprofit, relying on a small all-volunteer board and collaborative partnerships, educates residents across a broad cross-section of Montgomery County, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., about living sustainably through energy & transportation choices. During her tenure, she has brought National Drive Electric Week and Drive Electric Earth Day to the Poolesville Day and Montgomery County GreenFest festivals, introducing at least 110,000 people to the benefits of driving electric. She is a Climate Change Professional as certified by the Association of Climate Change Officers and the State of Maryland, along with being a Climate Reality Leadership trained speaker on Climate Change. Through her leadership, organizing efforts and speaking engagements, she has undeniably impacted the public’s embrace of EVs.

Rap HankinsRap Hankins has a long history of public service and activism. Before turning his attention to EVs, he served as council member of Trotwood, Ohio, for nearly 19 years, including two years as the vice mayor. Now acting as president of Drive Electric Dayton, he has taken on the role with vigor and urgency to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Greater Miami Valley. From hosting multiple Drive Electric events, giving presentations, educating city staff at municipal conferences, and engaging elected officials one-on-one, his efforts know no bounds. Frequently heard saying, “EVs for all,” Rap not only educates residents about electric vehicles but he’s also a driving force in his region, pushing for EV infrastructure that will be accessible to everyone, especially those in underserved communities.

Individual Award

Carleen CullenCarleen Cullen, founder and executive director of Cool the Earth, has been a transformative force in the EV movement. After purchasing a Nissan Leaf in 2012, she redirected her nonprofit’s mission to champion electric vehicles as a critical tool to combat the climate crisis, providing resources to help people go electric. Beyond her role at Cool the Earth, she served as EV policy advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom, who later implemented her primary policy advice to ban the sale of new gas cars. Carleen also spearheaded and co-authored a study on the reliability of open-system public DC fast-charging infrastructure with UC Berkeley, which profoundly influenced state and national policy related to reliability standards. She now serves as a member of the National Charging Experience Consortium established by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to improve the public charging experience in the U.S.

Minh Le headshotMinh Le is pushing Los Angeles County to new heights as general manager of energy and environmental services. For the last six years, his unwavering commitment to transportation electrification has resulted in an adopted regional sustainability plan to make the California county fossil-fuel-free. He not only identified the main challenges to EV adoption–limited charging infrastructure, limited charger access for those living in multifamily housing and lack of EV education–but he also created and is implementing a plan to address the barriers. LA County’s Clean Transportation Team has deployed 1,300 Level 2 and DC fast chargers across county facilities, with 1,000 more in the pipeline and many in Justice 40 communities including public housing campuses. Through his work, including his passion for an equitable transition, Minh has demonstrated exceptional leadership and expertise that is already improving the lives of LA County’s residents.

Rey Leon headshotHuron Mayor Rey León is the kind of leader who sees a world of possibilities and isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves. Besides serving as mayor of a small town outside of Fresno, California, he founded the Latino Environmental Advancement & Policy Institute, an environmental justice nonprofit that empowers Latinos, immigrants and youth in the San Joaquin Valley to achieve sustainable justice while im­proving community health. To solve his farmworking community’s transportation problem, he drew inspiration from the decades-long tradition of neighbors giving each other rides to create Green Raiteros, an EV ride-sharing program available for free to the public. Because of Mayor León’s efforts, people are able to get rides to and from medical appointments, family members no longer have to decide between making a day’s wage or driving another on a much-needed errand, and Huron has the necessary charging infrastructure so the community is not left behind in the EV transition. The Green Raiteros program has earned national attention and is a creative, effective model that will help us bring EVs to everyone.

Phil Jones headshotPhilip Jones is executive director of the Alliance for Transportation Electrification, an industry-funded nonprofit association promoting accelerating transportation electrification deployments. Besides his role at ATE and serving as a board member or advisor to numerous organizations in and around the energy sector, Phil runs a consulting business based in Seattle, Washington, where he provides EV infrastructure advisory services, among others. He has a storied work history, including two appointments by Governor Chris Gregoire to serve on the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which he did for a total of 12 years, and rising in the leadership of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners to become its president. His valuable expertise helps position utilities, manufacturers, electric vehicle supply equipment vendors and nonprofits for success as we transition to EVs.

City Captain Award

Kate Kruk headshotKate Kruk organized the largest attended National Drive Electric Week event in 2022 in Schenectady, New York, and beat that record in 2023. Her journey to leading the standout event started in 2015 when she purchased her first all-electric vehicle. After participating in the Drive Electric event the following year, she went on to join the planning committee before stepping into her current role in 2021. For her 2022 event, she recruited a stellar team including the city’s mayor, local school districts and partner organizations dedicated to sustainability. Her efforts culminated in more than 70 personal EVs on display, a market of sustainable vendors, information booths with related career services, an electric bus and nearly 700 attendees. Beyond Kate’s dynamite work as an event city captain and director of community engagement at Livingston Energy Group, she is a member of the New York State Tourism Industry Association Sustainability Taskforce, president of the New York Capital District Electric Vehicle Association and recently completed six years of service on her local school board. She is a role model for everyone, but especially young women and students, demonstrating how much difference one person can make.

Barry RandsBarry Rands has been an active, enthusiastic volunteer with the San Luis Obispo Climate Coalition and Citizens’​ Climate Lobby in California since his retirement seven years ago. After attending his first National Drive Electric Week event in 2017, he envisioned more, so he spearheaded the Climate Coaltion’s efforts to host its first NDEW event. Since then, he has led or co-led the organization’s annual fall Drive Electric event. Through his guidance and leadership, he also helped the organization add Drive Electric Earth Day to its calendar. Barry shows initiative and creativity in creating local events that attract a diverse audience countywide, and he continues to work tirelessly to create opportunities for his county’s residents to meet EV owners, drive electric vehicles and learn about the benefits of electrification, often for the first time.

Student Award

Anthony AsuncionAnthony Asuncion started volunteering at his local Electric Vehicle Association chapter when he was 17 because he was passionate about EVs, even though he didn’t yet drive one. Since his first event, he’s put more than 70,000 zero-emission miles on six EVs and even launched an EV-specific brokerage that aids consumers in finding the best deals on the most popular electric cars. He’s logged more than 200 hours volunteering, teaching people about incentives, the electric experience and available models. He gives presentations, lobbies charging networks to eradicate charging deserts and advocates for incentives at the state level for people who would benefit the most if they switched to electric. Currently attending Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey majoring in environmental and business economics, he will only continue to devote more time as he pursues a career in clean energy and e-mobility.

Plug in & get connected!

Join the EV movement