Tennessee Environmental Council is proud to present a 2013 Sustainable Tennessee Award to Karen Grubbs.  This award recognizes an individual or group who makes an outstanding and significant contribution to educating and/or advocating for the conservation and improvement of Tennessee’s environment, communities and public health. 

We are recognizing Karen for over 30 years of service at Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). During her career at TDEC, she served our state gaining experience in water supply; industrial, municipal, and agricultural wastewater management; solid and hazardous waste management, including recycling and pollution prevention; indoor air quality issues, such as radon, lead, mold, and integrated pest management; and for 12 years, the development, administration, tracking and reporting for the TN Pollution Prevention Partnership Program (TP3).  Here are some highlights:     

As a co-op student, Karen was involved in…

  • Dissolved oxygen, thermal, and water quality study of TVA storage reservoir system; with Knoxville Water Quality Control Field Office; which led to valley-wide tailwater restoration program; now an international model for tailwater restoration
  • James River Fish Kill study
  • Saltwater intrusion study in Southeast Virginia; Statewide ambient water level monitoring

In the Water Quality Control Nashville Field Office Karen was involved in Municipal & Industrial water and wastewater inspections; Safe Dams program; Spills and Fish Kills investigations; ambient water quality monitoring program

She served in Construction Grants and Loans/Division of Community Assistance/Office of Environmental Assistance/Office of Sustainable Practices and some highlights included

  • Co-author of Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook, with Dr. Sherry Wang (1990)
  • Coordinating/Implementing EPA programs and Grants

As a member of the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership (TP3) team Karen…

  • Helped launch the program in 2000, which grew to over 900 members statewide; in six categories designed to invite and include a diversity of interested participants
  • Helped Coordinate six biennial statewide Conferences, alternating with regional workshops
  • Karen was also involved in coordination and facilitation for multi-agency programs to exchange information and techniques with visiting delegations from China
    • Coordinated effort and support of TN Division of Forestry, TN Wildlife Resources Agency, and TN State Parks and Division of Water Quality Control.  The Participating agencies training and field experience included: TVA, US Corps of Engineers, TN Stream Mitigation Program; US Forestry Service; US Fish and Wildlife Service; and other private/public organizations
    • Participated in Chinese International Small and Medium Enterprise Fair in Guangzhou.  She  Coordinated, supported promoted TN Parks, Forestry, TWRA, TP3 participation. 

Karen currently works with Wilmot Inc., sustainability design consultants, she also serves on the Board of Directors for Tennessee Women in Green a professional women’s organization that meets monthly in Nashville.  Karen graduated UT Knoxville in Environmental Engineering.  She has participated in an EarthWatch Expedition assessing coral reefs and rivers in Grenada and had traveled to New Zealand and Australia, participating in scuba diving work in various locations, including the Great Barrier Reef.   

For Karen, environmentalism is “all in the family”.  Karen’s husband, David McKinney, is a Chief in the Environmental Services Division at TN Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).  Their two sons are at UT Knoxville: Calan is majoring in Evolutionary Biology, with focus in the Plant Sciences; studying trees and grasses; mine reclamation internship project. And Carson has participated in TEC community watershed meeting and tree planting events.  Karen’s parents David and Sue Grubbs, started her at a young age: camping in the Smoky Mountains, travel around the country camping and enjoying outdoor activities.