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UPDATED: SWANA Names Biderman as New Executive Director

Updated with comments from David Biderman, Brian Tippetts and Sharon Kneiss.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has tapped David Biderman as its next executive director and chief executive officer.

Biderman has worked for the industry's other major trade group, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) and its predecessors, for 18 years. He will join SWANA on May 1. Officials with both associations are excited about the increased possibility of collaboration going forward.

“We’re very excited to have David come on our team. He has a vision and he has ideas,” SWANA President Brian Tippetts told Waste360 in an interview. “Some people will point out that there are issues where NWRA and SWANA don‘t agree. But on the vast majority of issues we do agree… We see this as a way of making the industry stronger by taking someone with David’s background.”

SWANA’s board of directors confirmed the selection on Tuesday. 

Biderman most recently served NWRA as vice president of government affairs and general counsel. 

“I am very humbled and excited that the board at SWANA selected me to be the new executive director," Biderman told Waste360 in an interview. "It’s a new opportunity and challenge for me personally and professionally. I'm thrilled to be able play a role in improving the industry.... I'm looking forward to meeting SWANA’s staff, talking to their members and implementing their strategic plan."

Given his tenure at NWRA, Biderman says he's optimistic that the two leading associations will increasingly work together.

"I’m hopeful there will be increased opportunities for collaboration, but we’ll talk more about that at WasteExpo," he says. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my 18 years at NWRA. While I’m going to miss many of the people I’ve worked with, I’m not leaving the industry. I hope to continue my relationships with as many of them as possible." 

NWRA President and CEO Sharon Kneiss told Waste360 she is looking forward to continuing to work with SWANA.

“We certainly wish David well. Any time a staff person can elevate their stature it’s a good thing," Kneiss says. "We’ve worked very effectively with SWANA on safety and on regulator issues where we’ve sent comments to the EPA. We're looking forward to continuing that productive work with them.”

SWANA reviewed about 70 candidates for the position and narrowed that field down to a handful that were interviewed, Tippetts says. "I was amazed at the high caliber quality of people that applied," he adds. "There were top people in the industry—public and private—that were interested."

In terms of replacing Biderman at NWRA, Kneiss says the association has a transition plan in place on filling his roles on an interim basis. The NWRA's government affairs committee will map out the association's objectives for the next several years and use that as a guide for helping to fill the position.

He becomes only the third executive director/chief executive officer in SWANA’s 54-year history, following H. Lanier Hickman (1978 to 1996) and John H. Skinner (1996 to 2015). Skinner announced his intention to retire in December. His retirement is set to take effect at the end of this month.

Tippetts says that Skinner has agreed to be available as needed to ensure a smooth transition. He adds that Biderman will meet the staff next week. Skinner has led the association since 1996 following positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environment Programme. 

"SWANA has updated its strategic management plan for our vision of the future," Tippetts says. "We're excited about David teaming with us to implement that vision." 

SWANA's goals include focusing on public education and training and enhancing its offerings to the industry, according to Tippetts. 

Biderman holds a degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and earned a B.A. in Political Science from The Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to in the waste industry, he worked as an environmental and transportation attorney at Steptoe & Johnson, a Washington D.C. based law firm.

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