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For the Ladies

The EIA Women’s Council helps foster diversity in the industry.

January 1, 2008

4 Min Read
For the Ladies

Nancy Bretas

After just four years in existence, the Environmental Industry Associations Women's Council has become a self-sustaining organization with more than 80 members. The council is comprised of women from a variety of backgrounds and sectors of the waste industry, from suppliers to environmental services. The exchange of expertise and experience benefits not only the council, but the entire industry.

“I truly am so proud and impressed with how spectacularly the WC has blossomed over such a short period of time, and especially at the level of accomplishment,” said EIA President and CEO, Bruce Parker. “In my years at the association, I can't remember a group or institute that has done so much with so relatively little. Women's Council presidents Ellen Harvey [E.L. Harvey & Sons], Xenya Mucha [John Deere] and now Mary Margaret Cowhey [Land & Lakes Co.] have set an exemplary standard of leadership.”

The council has a lot to be proud of. It awarded its first scholarships — two $2,500 grants — in the spring of 2007 to students pursuing careers in the environmental industry. The scholarships are funded through the sales of the WC coloring book, “Where Does My Garbage Go?” In October, the council approved the awarding of four $2,500 grants in 2008. Applications will be accepted through March 1, 2008. Visit www.envasns.org and follow link to the EIA Women's Council to learn more.

Coloring book sales also helped fund educational activities, such as members-only “Lunch & Learns,” a boxed lunch session at the 2007 WasteExpo, and the Sunset Seminar and Dinner at the NSWMA/WASTEC Executive Round Table in October. The theme for the Women's Council Box Lunch program at WasteExpo 2008 will be “Make Some Noise!!!” with former Harley-Davidson executive and communication expert Ken Schmidt.

Each year the president of the EIA Women's Council organizes a tour for Women's Council members. In September 2007, members toured Chicago — President Mary Margaret Cowhey's kind of town! Cowhey is vice president of her family-owned, Chicago-based environmental services company, Land & Lakes. The director of Keep Chicago Beautiful, Joyce Kagan Charmatz, and two KCB interns joined the tour. The interns are environmental students in Jordan and Israel.

The Women's Council and generous facility hosts (Land & Lakes Co., International Truck, Allied Waste and Waste Management) underwrote the cost of the tour. Considering the varied backgrounds of the tour members, everyone saw something they had never seen before, including a state-of-the-art bioreactor cell being constructed at Land & Lakes' River Bend Prairie Landfill or Waste Management's CID MRRF [SPELL OUT], which uses trammel-based sorting technology to recover recyclables. The tour also included the Land & Lakes Harborview Composting Facility and a stop at the Standard Equipment facility in Chicago's West Loop.

On the last day of the tour, council members visited Allied Waste's new safety training center, where new drivers experience a blended approach to learning and training. The last stop was the International Truck and Engine facility in Melrose Park, one of the first diesel engine manufacturers in North America to be ISO14001 certified and an annual recipient of the Illinois Governor's Pollution Prevention Award. Steve Changaris, from the NSWMA Northeast Office, infiltrated the exclusive women's club tour. “The tour was educational, informative, and fun,” he said. “A truly fine learning experience for all involved.”

The Women's Council also hosted the Sunset Seminar at ERT [SPELL OUT] in Naples, Fla. A panel of experts discussed the hot topic, “E-Waste … Where Does It Go?” Chaz Miller, director of state programs for NSWMA, joined Renee St. Denis and Heather Bowman from Hewlett-Packard and Neil Peters-Michaud, CEO and co-founder of Cascade Asset Management, to discuss e-waste solutions and regulation. The panel was a good mix of perspectives from a manufacturer, a waste trade association and a recycling/disposal provider.

Elections were held in October. The 2008 president is Melissa Gauger of International Truck and Engine Corp. and vice president is Madeleine Szots from Labrie Environmental Group. Membership in the Women's Council is open to all individuals working in the waste industry. If you are interested in joining, please contact Peggy Macenas of NSWMA at 800-679-6269 or [email protected]. Alternatively, visit www.envasns.org and follow the links to “Women's Council” and “Membership.”

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