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Inspirational Leaders of EA’s Legacy Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
Ken Kilmer – In the Contaminated Environment
Although his everyday professional and calm demeanor rarely showed it, Ken Kilmer was definitely a child of the ‘60s having grown up in a world of idealistic concern over our future, especially the future of our environment. Ken received his undergraduate degree in geology from Rutgers in 1967, followed by graduate degrees in geochemistry from Dartmouth (1969) and environmental science from Yale (1972). Before joining EA in 1984, Ken worked for two firms in the nascent environmental consulting industry for 12 years, followed by a 23-year career at EA prior to his early passing in 2007. He worked on just about every type of planning, investigative, and engineering environmental project a consultant is faced with, ranging from wastewater and Clean Water Act issues to landfill siting and design to remediation of contaminated sites and facilities. His clients spanned the commercial and government spectrum, from industrial companies like Shell to county public works agencies and major environmental commands within the U.S. Department of Defense. At the apex of his career at EA, he successfully managed the company’s largest programs with federal clients, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army.
Ken always brought technical excellence to the projects and programs…and people…he touched. He was a stickler for top-notch quality, and he demanded it out of every colleague and project team member, ultimately imparting the kind of project results and deliverables that clients know EA for. He was also quite an innovator, in a modest way, when it came to applying environmental science to the client problems he faced. One example was his pioneering effort, beginning circa 1990, in using landfill recirculation technology to enhance in situ biodegradation of landfill contents.
What distinguished working with Ken was how he led and how he treated our clients. Although one could occasionally get Ken to reminisce, with a smile, about the turbulent ‘60s and his vinyl collection, he was all about serving our clients in a responsive and economic way, so they could be responsible environmental citizens. Progress for Ken was one successful project at a time, respecting our clients’ goals and pocketbooks. Ken’s passion for doing right by our clients—sometimes on seemingly irresolvable challenges—and thereby doing good, was contagious, and made him a leader by example.