NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Entergy Corporation today announced the creation of a $5 million endowment to honor retiring Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J. Wayne Leonard and continue efforts to address the issues of climate change, poverty and social justice. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120913/MM74349LOGO) "Wayne has been a passionate advocate on each of these issues during his years at Entergy, so we could think of no better way to honor him than by creating the J. Wayne Leonard Poverty, Climate Change and Social Justice Fund," said Leo Denault, who will assume the role of Entergy's chairman and CEO when Leonard retires Jan. 31. "To a great extent, his compassion for people from all walks of life and his desire to protect the environment for future generations have defined his tenure at Entergy. "We see this fund as a vehicle for Wayne, as an adviser to the fund, and Entergy to continue making important contributions in these areas for years to come," added Denault. The fund is being endowed through shareholder-funded donations to the Entergy Charitable Foundation. When Leonard was named CEO of Entergy in 1999, he began calling for action by business, community and political leaders to break the cycle of poverty that has stunted economic growth in the mid-South region for generations. During Leonard's tenure, the company has donated more than $50 million to charitable initiatives and advocacy efforts that successfully helped move low-income residents toward self-sufficiency. Among them were campaigns to improve early childhood education programs and financial support of a matched-savings program that has helped 19,000 people and created an economic impact of $69 million over the last 10 years. Under Leonard's leadership, in 2001 Entergy became the first utility in the U.S. to commit to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Entergy performed better than promised, cutting carbon emissions by 455.5 million tons through 2011, 12.6 percent better than its goal. Entergy has become a fixture on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, a respected measure of economic, environmental and social commitment, for more than a decade.