Owner and Principal, Diversion Strategies
Co-Founder, Women in Solid Waste & Recycling (WISR)
How long have you been in the industry?: 14 years
How did you get involved? What was your first job?: I think I was destined to be in this industry. As a child, I would often dwell on the subject of garbage, wondering where it all went and how it was managed.
As a college graduate, I was searching for a job and applying for anything with “environment” in the job title. I came across a posting for an “environmental planning coordinator” at Norcal Waste Systems (now Recology) applied and got the job.
I was immediately hooked and became interested in both the policy and politics that influenced our waste management system. Within the first two years of my employment, I took my entry level position and turned it into building a government affairs program and then a department, which is still going strong at Recology today.
Who/What was your biggest influence?: My biggest influence has always been a sustainable future for our planet and economy. That deeply held value is at the core of every choice I make. But, layered on top is how we achieve that, and those goals influence me daily as well. A diverse workforce is one way; gender, ethnicity and thought diversity should be the starting place to build that future within any industry or organization.
Second, to me, is efficiency. There is no better way to achieve efficiency in today’s age than integration of technology into all systems, processes and infrastructure. We need to focus on making recycling, reuse and recovery easy and cheap to truly drive social change, and technology will get us there.
What has been your most unique/interesting experience over the years?: Without question, my most interesting experiences have been spending time in the field with the people on the front lines of this industry.
One of my favorite experiences was putting lids on carts with a driver that had figured out he could save the company money and save space by stacking bins and installing the lids himself as needed. He had self-engineered the fastest way to do this and once I got the hang of the method, we were racing each other to see who could get the job done faster.
I enjoyed being inspired by the ingenuity in the field, which was happening at a faster pace than any corporate VPs could achieve on the 24th floor.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to the industry today?: I believe retaining top talent that will move this industry forward is one of the biggest challenges facing this industry today. Our workforce is our greatest asset, and our drivers are the front line. Nothing gets accomplished without our drivers and our sorters. But, if we look at the frontline positions for our industry, they are getting harder and harder to fill. Why? Because we are not doing a good enough job attracting people to them. In this day and age, people who want to drive for a living will do so with Lyft and Uber. The flexibility and variation in routes appeals to the modern day worker.
I believe this challenge of adapting to today’s modern worker is difficult for many historical industries like waste and recycling but clinging to old ways of doing things because they’ve worked in the past is a great way to get disrupted in the future.
What do you like most about being in the industry/your job?: The best thing about garbage is that it impacts everyone! I think this is why garbage tends to be so personal and influenced by culture. That is what makes it most interesting.
My favorite part of my job is hands down working with my business partner, Erin Merrill and all of our clients. When we opened Diversion Strategies, we never could have imagined the projects we would be working on and the clients we would be supporting today. It is hard to believe how much our world and network has expanded since starting Diversion Strategies and WISR.
Of course, the most rewarding thing I do every day is WISR. I feel that connecting our members to each other and world class leadership experts will continue to be the most positive impact I can make toward a more sustainable future.
Hobbies: All forms of yoga, hiking with my family and cooking.
Last vacation: Kitzbühel, Austria to ski the legendary hahnenkamm with my family.
Words to live by: “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” —Anita Roddick | WA