2023 GSA President's Medal

Presented to Jamil Bey

Jamil Bey

Jamil Bey
UrbanKind Institute


Citation by Mark Little

Dr. Jamil Bey is a scientist, activist, and organizer who earned a PhD and Master of Science in Geography from Penn State University. Dr. Bey is the founder of the Black Environmental Collective which creates community experiences, shares resources and information, and advocates for regional policy around the environment, climate change, food, and quality of life. The collective expands equitable and just outcomes, strengthens the voices of Black people within the environmental justice movement, and creates pathways to success for youth within the sustainability sector. Dr. Bey is also founder and CEO of UrbanKind Institute which assembles diverse perspectives to address environmental degradation, urban greenspace, climate change, and unreconciled racial history. Across all endeavors, Dr. Bey’s mission is to promote political, economic, housing, educational, environmental, and social justice. Dr. Bey’s work gives GSA an excellent model for identifying critical earth system challenges, broadening participation in the geosciences, and using science in service of humankind.


Response by Jamil Bey

With gratitude and humility, I accept the 2023 Geological Society of America's President's Medal. This honor is special because it acknowledges the often overlooked but deep connection between our work at the UrbanKind Institute and the field of earth sciences.

When I founded the UrbanKind Institute, it was to confront the disinvestment, neglect, and disregard that have plagued urban spaces and communities, particularly those inhabited by Black residents in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Our purpose was clear - to bridge the gap between academia, community organizations, and the residents themselves, fostering collaboration to uplift and revitalize neglected urban entities.

Over the years, the UrbanKind Institute has evolved into a powerful model of what can be achieved when disparate voices unite with a shared purpose. We've unearthed the profound interconnectedness between urban environments and the earth beneath them, highlighting the importance of geography and geology in our quest for equitable and sustainable urban spaces.

Receiving this prestigious medal from the Geological Society of America is a testament to the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the recognition that urban issues are inherently tied to the earth sciences. I am immensely proud of what we've accomplished, and I am deeply grateful for this recognition.

Thank you to the Geological Society of America. Thank you to my colleagues at the UrbanKind Institute, and most importantly, thank you to the communities we serve. Together, we are making a meaningful difference, and this medal is not just mine; it is a symbol of our collective dedication to creating better urban environments for all.