Rick Vahl, President | LeMay, Inc./Waste Connections
Rick Vahl has worked alongside great teams at Waste Connections since 2012. His experience started in Alaska but then opportunities in California took him back to the “lower 48”. With a variety of Hauling and Transfer Station experience he was able to join the management team of LeMay, Pierce County Refuse in 2019. Working as a team to provide the safest and most customer focused services possible is what drives him to continuously improve. While balancing his career, he spends time with his lovely wife Melody and their 2 daughters Emerald (8) and Eden (5). Born and raised in Portland, OR makes the PNW feel like home where one of their family mottos comes to life – “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear”.
Hannah Scholes, Vice President | King County, Solid Waste Division
Hannah is a Policy Analyst for the King County Solid Waste Division. She supports policy and projects related to product stewardship, recycling, and circular economy. She is passionate about environmental justice and ensuring programs and policies benefit all community members. Prior to her work at King County she managed education and outreach for Waste Management and served as an environmental technician for Peace Corps Paraguay. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Systems from the University of California, San Diego, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington. In her free time, you’ll find Hannah outside hiking, biking, skiing or just goofing off at the park with her dog.
Cyndi Holloway, Treasurer | Waste Connections
Cyndi has lived in Vancouver, WA for the past 28 years. She is married to Marty, a retired Commander for the Vancouver City Police Department. They have three children, Chad (27), Taylor (22) and Hayden (21). Cyndi holds a Bachelor of Science in Business degree from the University of Washington. Her background is in event planning and hospitality sales, before joining Waste Connections she was the Executive Director for the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver and prior to the Heathman, she sold Las Vegas experience for Caesars Entertainment for over 8 years. Cyndi’s passions include Community, Friends/Family and Travel, but she is also very committed to improving her golf game.
Joel Kohlstedt, Asst. Treasurer | Waste Management
Joel is a Partnership Manager of Waste Reduction and Innovation for WM. He manages recycling programs and studies with King, Snohomish, and Spokane counties in Washington State focused on increasing recycling and decreasing contamination through innovative programs and projects. He is passionate about conducting research and creating data-driven campaigns, producing out-of-the-box strategies to engage residents, and optimizing program performance. Joel has worked in the recycling industry for over ten years, supporting cities throughout the Puget Sound and Oregon in increasing recycling through business and multifamily outreach, community presentations, and local recycling campaigns. Joel is a graduate of the University of Washington with a major in Environmental Studies. He combines his passion for education and sustainability by creating educational programming that will ultimately help to reduce our environmental impact. Joel enjoys the outdoors, mountain biking, snowboarding, and camping.
Karen Hultgren, Secretary | Pierce County Planning & Public Works
Karen is a Solid Waste Recycling Analyst in the Sustainable Resources Division of Pierce County Planning and Public Works. She has worked in the recycling industry since 2009 on residential, municipal and school-based recycling, waste reduction and composting programs in both Colorado and Washington and has worked for Pierce County since 2016. Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts from American University and an M.B.A. from the University of Colorado Boulder – Leeds School of Business. She lives in Tacoma with her husband, daughter and two rescue dogs. Originally from New Mexico, Karen is continuously amazed by the verdancy of the PNW and is often found outside on adventures with her family enjoying the spectacular combination of mountains and water. In the past few years Karen has also developed a bit of an obsession with spotting orcas in the waters around Tacoma.
Jenna Burchell, Asst. Secretary | DTG Recycle
Jenna has incredibly involved in multiple committees with the WSRA (Membership committee, DEI, Tribal subcommittee, WSRA Conference Planning, Networking committee, Policy committee, Trashion Show Planning, WRED Committee). Additionally, Jenna’s company is the current Platinum sponsor and heavily involved in the interest of expanding memberships to the WSRA.
Michelle Mulrony | WA Department of Ecology
Michelle Mulrony is the Central Region Grants and Planning Specialist with the Washington Department of Ecology in the Solid Waste Division. Her duties include supporting local governments with technical support and guidance with their Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Plans as well as managing the Solid Waste Grants they receive ensuring local governments get the funding support they need. Previous to this position Michelle was the Recycling Coordinator in the Solid Waste Department with Klickitat County, Washington for 4 years after moving to Washington from Colorado. In Colorado Michelle worked in the Outdoor Recreation field while obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Recreation Management from Northern Arizona University. Her passion for the outdoors led her to the field of Solid Waste and she enjoys outreach and education especially within waste reduction and recycling. Outside of work, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband and kids on their hobby farm, kayaking on the local rivers, fishing, and camping.
Carolyn Bowie | Washington State Department of Ecology
Carolyn Bowie (she/her) serves as the Waste Reduction and Recycling Specialist for Western Washington at the Washington State Department of Ecology where she leads the implementation for the Statewide Single-use Plastic Bag Ban and Single-use Serviceware law. Before joining Ecology in 2021, Carolyn conducted education and outreach to communities and businesses across King County about waste reduction and sustainability at both the City of Bellevue and Full Circle Environmental. As a lifelong environmentalist, Carolyn previously worked as an ecologist in the high deserts of California, Nevada and alpine meadows of Mount Rainier. After getting a Masters in Public Administration from University of Washington, she pivoted from working in the field to the office to tackle upstream environmental challenges in how we responsibly reduce and manage our waste. Outside of work, Carolyn tries to maximize time outdoors in her garden and explore new trails in the Cascade Mountains; one of her greatest life achievements to date is backpacking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail, 2,102 miles, in 2018.
Carla Johnson | Municipal Contract Administrator Republic Services
Carla Johnson is the Municipal Contract Administrator with Republic Services where she has worked since 2014. In her role, she works closely with city and county staff on waste diversion programs and provides community recycling outreach to a variety of audiences. With a background in marketing and communication, Carla has helped design outreach campaigns and recycling education. She has completed the Master Recyclers and Composting program and Certificates for public speaking thru Toastmasters. Her previous experience was with One Redmond (the Redmond Chamber of Commerce) and international relocation real estate services. In her free time, Carla stays active teaching skiing, snowmobiling, and camping with her family and two dogs.
Christopher Friend, Director of Public Relations & Government Affairs for Swire Coca-Cola
Christopher Friend is the Director of Public Relations and Government Affairs for Swire Coca-Cola, the bottling franchise of the Coca-Cola Company in 13 states in the West. Before joining Swire Coca-Cola, Christopher advanced health equity on behalf of cancer patients and their families in the halls of government as the Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society. With more than a decade of advocacy in legislative and electoral politics, Christopher has led campaigns around the Pacific Northwest to advance public safety, living wages, and health equity.
Christopher also serves on the board of Solve Oregon, Cascade AIDs Project and Oregon Business and Industry.. When he isn’t working or volunteering, Christopher enjoys film photography, hosting dinner parties and traveling with his husband, Benjamin Friend and walking their dog, Fern.
Nick DiBartolo, Washington Program Coordinator, PaintCare
Nick DiBartolo is a Washington Program Coordinator for PaintCare, a non-profit organization that operates paint stewardship programs on behalf of paint manufacturers. Previously he worked in the large retail environment in several roles connecting customers to their end project goals while reducing overall project costs and material waste. This included exterior project sales, connecting contractors with box store customer base. Since taking his role as a Program Coordinator he has focused his efforts on connecting businesses and residents with convenient paint recycling optins in both urban and rural settings. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources from Oregon State University.