On April 26th, George ‘Garik’ Gutman was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for 'exceptional service and leadership as Manager of the Land Cover Land Use Change Program and his innovative contribution to global change science'. For more than 20 years Garik has led the LCLUC program to be innovative and inclusive. The program is unique within NASA, explicitly combining remote sensing and social science. The innovations that Garik has brought to the program include: the two-step proposal review; the development of the Global Land Survey Landsat-based datasets partnering with USGS; the incorporation of Multi-Source Land Imaging (MuSLI) component in the LCLUC program; the Early Career Scientist funding opportunities; and most recently the LCLUC Hotspot focus. He has made LCLUC a truly global program, establishing and supporting regional initiatives in Northern Eurasia (NEESPI) and South/Southeast Asia (SARI) and involving regional scientists in LCLUC projects. He has been a major supporter of the Global Observations of Forest Cover and Land-use Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) program and has fostered cooperation with Space Agencies and research institutions around the World, to enhance capacity building activities and promote NASA data, methods and products, in partnership with the international START program, NASA-USAID SERVIR, regional institutions and national space agencies.