Young Professionals


The following report is from the Young Professionals Liaison to the Chapter at the 2020 Annual Meeting.

We want to thank the SWANA BOD for their support of the YPs in the last year both financially and with attendance to our events. When COVID hit, you all worked to keep meetings despite a new and perhaps uncomfortable medium; floating faces. Through buy-in to a digital submittal and review of documents in lieu of paper we were ready to face the challenges already! At the meeting last week, the YPs initiative to host a live social distanced happy hour was heard out and supported.

This year also started with one of the things I’m most proud of Mid Atlantic for doing; shifting focus to accommodate the needs of a large demographic of our membership. Working along side big SWANA to offer a class to keep compost facility operators properly educated and certified. Something that the industry for a multitude of reasons was unable to do in a such a timely fashion that the MDA had acknowledged the problem. On behalf of staff that benefited from this as well as folks I have heard of from other entities that were similarly concerned and relieved by this effort, thank you all.

At the last meeting, Mr. Ford made the excellent suggestion to revisit YP driven speeches on projects, but via webinar for the foreseeable future. This highlighted an emerging goal of the YPs realized during the previous year that admittedly the liaisons had let off the gas on. This suggestion resonated with both Craig and I and will definitely be a continued focus for us in the coming months as we work to build out a robust educational experience for the membership. We apologize for losing focus on this initiative and appreciate seeing the suggestion be brought up by a non-YP!

With an eye to the future, there are a few suggestions I/we would like to put forth to the BOD for consideration. These suggestions come with a respect to the history and work that has gotten the chapter to where it is now and ambitions that they may pave the way for an event greater future.

The past I am referring to, which I believe aligns favorably to the current SWANA goal, was to:

  1. Develop increased professionalism in the field of governmental solid waste management.
  2. Develop environmentally sound, economically-competitive, and effective systems for the storage, collection, transfer and disposal of solid wastes.
  3. Foster the development of viable resource recovery and waste-to-energy facilities.
  4. Foster a cooperative atmosphere between the public and private sectors of the solid waste management industry through the dissemination of information, continuing education and professional development and research programs.

An emphasis on safety, responsible material management, and recycling are the more clearly defined newer portions.

My suggestions are as follows:

  1. Modernize – catch up to sister groups we wish to emulate
    1. Prioritize electronic payments from inception to accepted.
    2. Invigorate the messenger boards.
    3. Partner with Keystone and NJ for broader networking and availability of regional initiatives (conferences for instance).
  2. Document and Plan – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”
    1. Set a one year and five year plan for the Chapter that expands upon current infrastructure.
    2. Set goal milestones for key deliverables.
    3. Measure performance by metrics.
    4. Continue semi-annual publications and review for newer content.
  3. Focus on Research – Bring the talent to the area and keep the discussion on the front edge of where we are going.
    1. Consider partnering with local universities to sponsor projects or advertise research projects looking for field sites to encourage school-public-private relationships.
    2. Disseminate publications with new findings so that the diverse stakeholders are prepared to speak for their agencies during new permit and bill discussions.
    3. Host a meeting at a University when applicable.
  4. Streamline
    1. Prioritize approving committee reports prior to the meeting unless there are actionable items requiring discussion.
    2. Start the meeting inquiring if there is new business such that time can be allocated to new business when applicable.
    3. Highlight on-going topics that have not seen forward progress within the past three meetings (half of a year) to identify potential road blocks or reprioritization.
    4. Less committees. Ensure less time talking about doing something and more time was spent doing it.
  5. Business
    1. Begin enforcing membership benefits only being extended to members.
    2. Establish prominent marketing.
    3. Hold BOD members accountable for metrics and add as considering factor for re-election during nominations.
    4. If you build it, they will come. Do not chase members, build the benefit you want to see and trust that there are people out there that want something similar.
    5. Lower cost of courses ASAP. In the current fiscal crisis everyone will be weathering, lower level employees and highest level employees are likely to be targeted and expenditures that can be delayed will be. Consider that the target membership benefit is training and the noblest benefit that could be extended currently is assistance in keeping people fit to do their job.
    6. Succession planning.
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