April 10, 2020 by Sue Bumpous
It was serendipity that I came to work for SWANA in June 2012, thanks to Meri Beth posting in the job bank for the American Society of Association Executives, and then searching in that database for the words “solid waste” and finding my resume. Her invitation to apply for the job came out of nowhere and was MOST welcome.
I had worked for the solid waste program and environmental education programs in State of Texas environmental agencies for many years, beginning shortly after the passage of the EPA Subtitle D regulations. Having that experience on my resume made me an ideal candidate for SWANA, in addition to the fact that I had worked on speaker recruitment and conference planning both in Texas and for the North American Association for Environmental Education in DC, which was the job I held between the Texas environmental agency and SWANA. I moved from Texas to DC with a 5-year plan that has now turned into 16 years.
My role at SWANA has evolved over nearly eight years, but has always been a combination of conference duties and serving as the staff liaison to the technical divisions. While I’ve been proud of my role in helping to improve the conference experience for SWANA members, it’s been the relationships I’ve made with technical division members, and especially the dedicated division leaders, that will be my fondest memories. I am leaving with not only professional colleagues but some very good friends as well.
Another of my best memories is from my first months at SWANA leading up to and at the 2012 conference at National Harbor in Maryland. Meri Beth asked me to do an IGNITE presentation (5-minute timed slide show) to introduce myself to everyone. I loved finding the visuals and writing the script to summarize my career in solid waste and environmental education, and how they led me to SWANA. After my delivery, I was welcomed into the “IGNITE club” by Sara Bixby, Michelle Leonard, and others who previously had done their IGNITE slide shows. It was my introduction to Sara, who a year or so later came to SWANA as a deputy director and eventually became my supervisor. She’s one of several “best bosses ever” that I’ve been fortunate to have and a good friend.
Following my last day at SWANA, I’m spending a few (more) weeks packing up my rental house and then the movers come to take me home to Texas, relaxation of “stay home” orders in Maryland permitting. After I’m settled in my new house, I’m looking forward to being a volunteer in Austin’s music and environmental communities in some way to be determined.
I really will miss #TeamSWANA and the creativity, energy, and passion that all the staff members bring to the association, as well as the interaction I’ve had with members. Recycling and environmental issues were passions long before I went to work in the industry via Texas state government and will remain so. I hope to keep in touch and share information via LinkedIn and other platforms. See you on the Internet!