Special Guests & Honorees



Each year we rededicate ourselves to our mission by honoring some of our own outstanding real life, environmental super heroes. This year our Board of Directors chose to present three awards, honoring those who have demonstrated extraordinary environmental stewardship, helping to protect and preserve the natural balance and beauty of our land and actively put forth a significant effort in making the world a better place.

Mark Ruffalo Headshot - By Richard Phibbs - high res

Mark Ruffalo

Superhero for Earth Award Recipient

Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, BAFTA and Emmy® nominee Mark Ruffalo is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors, easily moving between stage and screen and working with directors including Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Spike Jonze, David Fincher, Fernando Meirelles and Michel Gondry.

Ruffalo has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in the last five years for Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are All Right,” Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” and Thomas McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” 2015’s Best Picture Oscar® winner.

“Spotlight” followed The Boston Globe’s coverage of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal for which the newspaper won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The film won two Oscars® (Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay) out of six nominations at the 2016 Academy Awards®. The cast of the film was awarded the Screen Actors Guild® Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and the film itself was nominated for a Golden Globe® for Best Motion Picture/Drama.

Ruffalo also received a Golden Globe® nomination in 2015 for his role in the Sony Pictures Classics film “Infinitely Polar Bear.” Ruffalo starred opposite Zoe Saldana as a bipolar husband and father who goes off his medication and proceeds to lose both his job and sanity, while struggling to hold onto his marriage.

Earlier in 2015, Ruffalo reprised his role as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the hit sequel to “Marvel’s The Avengers.” Directed by Joss Whedon, the film reunited Ruffalo with co-stars Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.

In 2014, Ruffalo received Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, Screen Actors Guild® and BAFTA nominations for his role as the late Olympic wrestler David Schultz in Bennett Miller’s drama, “Foxcatcher.”The film also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture/Drama.

Ruffalo received a Screen Actors Guild® Award, as well as Golden Globe® and Emmy® nominations, for his role as gay rights activist Ned Weeks in the HBO film “The Normal Heart,” based on the play by Larry Kramer. Directed by Ryan Murphy, the film also starred Julia Roberts and Matt Bomer and received a total of 16 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Television Movie. It also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television.

Ruffalo earned Academy Award®, Screen Actors Guild®, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award nominations for his performance in Focus Features’ “The Kids Are All Right,” directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Along with that string of nominations, he was also honored with the Best Supporting Actor Award by the New York Film Critics Circle.

In 2011, Ruffalo made his directorial debut with “Sympathy for Delicious,” which starred Orlando Bloom and Laura Linney and won the Special Jury Prize for dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival.

Ruffalo earned critical recognition in 2000 for his role in Kenneth Lonergan’s “You Can Count on Me,” opposite Laura Linney and Matthew Broderick. The Martin Scorsese-produced film won the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ for best film in dramatic competition and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.

Ruffalo’s other film credits include “Thanks for Sharing,” “Now You See Me,” “Shutter Island,” “We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “Zodiac,” “The Brothers Bloom,” “Collateral,” “13 Going on 30,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “In The Cut,” “Margaret,” “Blindness,” “Just Like Heaven,” “Reservation Road,” “All the King’s Men,” “What Doesn’t Kill You,” “My Life Without Me,” “The Last Castle,” “Windtalkers,” “XX/XY,” “Committed,” “Ride With the Devil,” “Studio 54,” “Safe Men,” “The Last Big Thing,” “Fish in the Bathtub,” “Life/Drawing” and “Begin Again” alongside Keira Knightley and Hailee Steinfeld.

Ruffalo’s acting roots lie in the theater, where he first gained attention starring in the off-Broadway production of “This Is Our Youth,” for which he won a Lucille Award for Best Actor. This year he starred in Arthur Miller’s “The Price” on Broadway opposite Danny DeVito. In 2000, he was seen in the Off-Broadway production “The Moment When,” a play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner James Lapine. He made his theater debut in “Avenue A” at The Cast Theater. A writer, director and producer, Ruffalo co-wrote the screenplay for the independent film “The Destiny of Marty Fine.” In 2000, he directed Timothy McNeil’s original play “Margaret” at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles. Ruffalo has also received Dramalogue and Theater World Awards. Ruffalo made his Tony Award-nominated Broadway debut in the 2006 Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of Clifford Odets’ “Awake and Sing!”

Ruffalo advocates for addressing climate change and increasing renewable energy. In March 2011, he co-founded Water Defense to raise awareness about energy extraction impact on water and the public health. A regular contributor to the Guardian and Huffington Post, Ruffalo has received the Global Green Millennium Award for Environmental Leadership and the Meera Gandhi Giving Back Foundation Award. He was named one of Time Magazine’s People Who Mattered in 2011 and received The Big Fish Award from Riverkeeper in 2013. Ruffalo helped launch The Solutions Project in 2012 as part of his mission to share science, business and culture that demonstrates the feasibility of renewable energy.

NGS Picture Id:1764943

E.O. Wilson

Exemplar Award Recipient

National Geographic Photographer and Fellow, National Geographic Photo Ark Founder

Joel Sartore is a photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic fellow and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. His hallmarks are a sense of humor and a Midwestern work ethic.

Sartore started the Photo Ark in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. Since then, Sartore, a world-renowned photographer, has visited 40 countries in his quest to create this photo archive of global biodiversity.

To date, Sartore has completed portraits of more than 6,000 species, photographed on either a plain black or white background. No matter its size, each animal is treated with the same amount of affection and respect. The results are portraits that are not just stunningly beautiful, but also intimate and moving. “It’s the eye contact that moves people,” Sartore says of the animals’ expressions. “It engages … feelings of compassion and a desire to help.” Learn more about the National Geographic Photo Ark.

Sartore has written several books including RARE: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, Photographing Your Family, Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky and Let’s Be Reasonable. Two new National Geographic Photo Ark books, The Photo Ark and Animal
Ark, will be on sale wherever books are sold this spring. National Geographic Photo Ark fans are also invited to join the conversation on social media with #SaveTogether and learn more about how to get involved with the project at

In addition to the work he has done for National Geographic, Sartore has contributed to Audubon magazine, Time, Life, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and numerous book projects. Sartore and his work have been the subjects of several national broadcasts, including National Geographic’s Explorer, the NBC Nightly News, NPR’s Weekend
Edition and an hour-long PBS documentary At Close Range. He is also a regular contributor on the CBS Sunday Morning show with Charles Osgood.

Sartore graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in journalism. He currently lives in Nebraska with his wife and three children.

Sartore and his images are represented by National Geographic’s internal talent and stock agency NatGeoCreative (


Ta'Kaiya Singing shot

Ta’Kaiya Blaney

Young Superhero for Earth Award Recipient

Ta’Kaiya Blaney is an actor, singer-songwriter and Native Children’s Survival (NCS) Youth Ambassador from Tla A’min Nation, Turtle Island.

At the young age of 6, Ta’Kaiya starred in several award-winning short films depicting the role of a First Nations child taken from her traditional home and put into governmental residential schools run by the church. For her work in these films, Ta’Kaiya received two Leo Award nominations for “Best Performance by a Female in a Short Drama” by the British Columbia film and television industry. By the age of 10, Ta’Kaiya’s first music release and music video SHALLOW WATERS brought her national acclaim and earned her multiple awards and cultural honors.

From the Idle No More Movement to the United Nations Ta’Kaiya has performed and spoken at grass-roots Indigenous gatherings and rallies and at International conferences and forums across the globe. Ta’Kaiya’s engagements have included, the TUNZA United Nations Children and Youth Conference on the Environment in Bandung, Indonesia in 2011, the United Nations Rio+20 Conference on the Environment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012, and the United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues, in New York City in 2013. In 2014, Ta’Kaiya was the youngest keynote speaker for Powershift (an annual global youth summit focusing on climate change policy) at Pittsburg, P.A. and Victoria, B.C. and the youngest Indigenous youth to present an intervention at the United Nations Headquarters Permanent Forum On Indigenous where she introduced the NCS “Indigenous Children’s Fund”.

Ta’Kaiya performed live and delivered a keynote address at The Parliament Of World Religions on 19 October 2015. The conference included such notable spiritual Leaders as Chief Arvol Looking Horse and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. On 5 November 2015 at the Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver in Coast Salish Territories, Ta’Kaiya performed and spoke at a public rally with Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein calling for fundamental change on caring for each other and the planet in the wake of Canada’s federal election. In 2016 Ta’Kaiya delivered a keynote address at the sixty-sixth United Nations/Non-Governmental Organizations Conference in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea.
Ta’Kaiya is currently featured in several television programs including the HBO Documentary series Saving My Tomorrow and the APTN television series Konnected Tv.

As part of the NCS Youth Campaign for Climate Justice Ta’Kaiya’s inspirational music picture from the front lines of the environmental movement, EARTH REVOLUTION premiered at the Conference of Youth in Paris, France on the eve of the historic 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21). The screening was prefaced by H.E. Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister and President of COP21.

Written and performed by Ta’Kaiya, EARTH REVOLUTION features children from around the world in a call to action to protect Mother Earth and all our relations for future generations. During COP21 EARTH REVOLUTION also screened at the Rights of Nature Tribunal on 5 December 2015 where Ta’Kaiya closed the event with a new song TURN THE WORLD AROUND. The TV news program Democracy Now filmed her performance and it has received more than 300,000 views on the Democracy Now Facebook and YouTube pages.

In 2017 Ta’Kaiya Blaney’s new single and music picture EARTH REVOLUTION drops digitally on iTunes, Amazon and leading music stores around the world.

Ta’Kaiya is currently on the Red Road speaking, performing and sharing her message with the world.
“I believe our generation does not see activism just as a necessity or obligation, but a beautiful opportunity to invent the unexpected and to spread our optimism that we can make a better world.” – Ta’Kaiya Blaney

The Event

Please join us this year, along with Ted Turner and special musical guest, at one of Atlanta’s most spectacular eco benefits.

The Foundation

The Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) was created in 1991 as an offshoot of the award-winning Captain Planet cartoon series, conceptualized by Ted Turner.

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