Conference Speakers

Our dynamic speakers and presenters bring years of varied experience and insights into the world of recycling and solid waste diversion. 

Learn more about this year's conference speakers below!

Keynote Speakers: 

Jen Heaton-Jones, Executive Director at Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority

Jen Heaton-Jones is the Executive Director of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, a regional, governmental, solid waste, and recycling authority serving 14 municipalities in Western CT. She has been with the HRRA since 2009. She is the current chair of the CT Product Stewardship Council, Vice President of the CT Recyclers Coalition, and President of the Northeast Chapter of NAHMMA. She has received state and national recognition and awards for her work in the solid waste industry. 



Meghan Theriault, Director of Public Works, Gilford, NH

In her 17 year career in Public Works, Meghan has been both a Town Engineer and Public Works Director.  Her passion for educating residents of all ages on recycling right won New Hampshire the Beautiful’s Best Practices in Engaging Residents contest in 2021.  She and her staff utilized many avenues for educating residents before, during and after opening the new Gilford Solid Waste Center which converted from single stream collection to source separated recycling.  This effort included significant public education to residents and a learning curve for staff on running a whole new operation, baling and selling materials. 



Joan Cudworth, Director of Public Works for Hollis, NH

Joan Cudworth is the Chair of the NRRA Board of Trustees and Director of Public Works for the Town of Hollis, NH. Joan first worked at the Transfer Station for 18 years before being promoted to Director of Public Works. Joan enjoys the challenges in the Solid Waste field and continues to oversee the Transfer Station.  The everyday unknowns and the ever-changing recycling markets have kept her engaged over the years. Besides her day-to-day workload as Director, she continues to help with snow plowing and any other duties that need to be covered at the Public Works garage.



Rhonda Whittier, Office Manager for Pelham, NH Transfer Station & Highway Department

Rhonda Whittier has worked for the Town of Pelham, NH since 2016 and at the Transfer Station since 2018. As the Transfer Station and Highway Department Office Manager, Rhonda works closely with the Road Agent and Superintendent of the Transfer Station to keep both departments running smoothly, including providing support for grants, budgeting, and NHDES and Town annual reports. More recently, Rhonda has supported all aspects of establishing a new food waste diversion program in Pelham, from selecting a service provider to educating residents. Rhonda is certified as a Senior Principal Operator and a Hazardous Waste Coordinator through NHDES. 



Reagan Bissonnette, Executive Director, NRRA

Reagan Bissonnette is the Executive Director of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA), a nonprofit organization that partners with over 450 municipalities, businesses, and individuals throughout New England to make recycling strong through economic and environmentally sound solutions.  NRRA is one of only a handful of nonprofits in the country that connects municipalities with purchasers and processors of recyclable commodities, enabling communities to manage their own recycling programs.  Reagan writes and speaks extensively about recycling and waste reduction, including in regional and national forums.  She is a member of the New Hampshire Solid Waste Working Group, which is responsible for assisting the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services with solid waste planning and policy initiatives. 


Andrea  Folsom, Communications Manager, NRRA

Andrea Folsom is the Communications Manager of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association and is certified as a Principal Operator through the NHDES SWOT and Certification Program. She oversees all NRRA communications, including newsletters, social media, and the website. She also works on current and future grant reports and proposals, including but not limited to recent USDA and EPA grants awarded to NRRA related to food waste diversion, full cost accounting, facility signage, and C&D diversion. Andrea focuses on creating engaging educational content that is accessible by a wide variety of individuals. She received a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Iowa and a degree in Psychology from Macalester College.



Brian Patnoe, Member Services Manager, NRRA

Brian Patnoe is the Member Services Manager for the Northeast Resource Recovery Association. Brian has worked in the recycling field for over 20 years and has extensive expertise in cooperative marketing, education and technical assistance in recycling and waste reduction. Brian started working in the recycling field as a freshman in High School in 1998.  What he thought was a three-week temporary position turned into a lifelong passion.  After working part time through high school at the Lancaster Transfer Station, he went on to New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI) where he received his Associates Degree in Computer Information Systems. In 2003, he started at the Littleton Transfer Station and eventually took over as manager in 2013.  In early 2021, he returned to the Lancaster as the Transfer Station Manager. In recent years, Prior to becoming the Member Services Manager, Brian served on NRRA’s Board of Trustees and played an important role in supporting NRRA’s recent USDA Recycling with Results grant work, as well as preparation for NRRA’s upcoming USDA and EPA grants. 

Workshop Presenters: 

Tara Albert, Solid Waste Operator Training & Certification Coordinator for NH Department of Environmental Services

Tara Mae Albert started with NHDES in 2007 as the Pollution Prevention Specialist. In 2010, she took on the role as NH Green Yards Program Coordinator assuring environmental compliance at motor vehicle recycling facilities. She is currently the SW Operator Training and Certification Program Coordinator. Tara has a BS from Coastal Carolina University in both Marine Science & Biology with a focus on chemistry/environmental sciences and a MS from The University of Maine in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. She is a Certified Public Manager, Hazardous Waste Coordinator, and graduate of Maine Composting School as well as the NHDES Speechcraft Program.



Bonnie Bethune, Senior Member Services Representative, NRRA

Bonnie Bethune is the Senior Member Services Representative of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association.  She assists NRRA’s municipal members with a wide variety of technical assistance and cooperative marketing and purchasing needs.  This includes marketing tractor-trailer loads of recyclable material to environmentally sound vendors, providing hands-on technical assistance to help solid waste facility operators improve their solid waste management and planning, and coordinating household hazardous waste events for municipalities.  Bonnie also presents on the subject of recycling and waste reduction.    



Rodney Clara, Vice President of Business Development, Tough Stuff Recycling

Rodney Clara is the Vice President of Business Development of Tough Stuff Recycling. With twenty-plus years of experience in the waste diversion and product stewardship industry, Rodney’s journey began with Goodwill Industries, helping them to reach cost-saving, waste-diversion practices while generating new revenue streams within their operations with recyclable/reusable materials.

Working with leaders in the electronic waste/recycling industry, he coordinated and managed collection programs for municipalities, solid waste facilities, and businesses on the East and West coasts. As a result, tons of hazardous, electronic waste were kept out of landfills. This experience allowed him the opportunity to launch one of the country’s largest Mattress Recycling – Product Stewardship programs for the State of California by helping regional municipalities, and private solid waste facilities understand the new product stewardship program law. This journey resulted in diverting over 4 million mattresses and box springs from landfills.
Jaime Colby, Solid Waste Engineering and Permitting Section Supervisor, NH Department of Environmental Services


 Scott DeFife, President, Glass Packaging Institute (GPI)

Scott DeFife is President of the Glass Packaging Institute, a trade association representing the North American glass container industry, and President of the Glass Recycling Foundation, which was created to help fill gaps in glass recycling efforts by providing matching grants for equipment to help communities get started. He previously served as the Vice President of Government Affairs at the Plastics Industry Association, the Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs for the National Restaurant Association, as well as in senior roles with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the American Public Power Association. Scott also worked for 12 years in the House of Representatives Congressional Leadership for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and for Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as for the State of Texas under Governor Ann Richards and the National Conference of State Legislatures. His experience at multiple levels of government and across several different industries and materials gives him a broad policy and systems perspective to support national recycling infrastructure and education.


State Representative Karen Ebel, Democratic Leader Pro Tempore of the NH House, Chair, NH Solid Waste Working Group

Rep. Karen Ebel is serving her sixth term representing New London and Newbury, NH.  A former Deputy Speaker of the NH House, she is now serving her second term as the Democratic Leader Pro Tempore. Karen has served five terms as a House Public Works and Highways Committee member and now serves on the Finance Committee. She currently sits on several other legislative committees, including the House Rules and Facilities Committees. Since 2019, Karen has focused on state solid waste issues, which had been ignored for decades by the legislature. She chairs New Hampshire's Solid Waste Working Group, focusing on the state's increasing solid waste recycling and disposal challenges. She has led the recent effort to update to NH's solid waste laws. Karen is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Trinity College (VT). The Ossipee native returned to her home state in 1988, moving to New London with her family, after practicing law in Washington, DC for several years. 


John Fay, Project Manager, NEWMOA

John Fay is a Project Manager for NEWMOA. Prior that, he was with the Windham Solid Waste Management District where he managed special waste programs, education and outreach, and technical assistance to member towns. Over the past 25 years, John has consulted on solid waste issues, run commercial-scale compost facilities, operated household hazardous waste facilities, and served as an environmental analyst for the Vermont DEC. John enjoys learning and sharing knowledge and resources, and in that capacity has taught at both the graduate and middle school levels. John holds an M.S. in Resource Management and Administration from Antioch University New England. 



Alex Husted, CIO and co-founder of Helpsy

Alex Husted helps build the systems that drive our operations and secures the funding to support our growth and acquisitions. Alex spent 15 years at Edmund Optics, a global manufacturer and distributor of precision optics. He has trash-to-treasure in his blood and holds a Villanova MBA, a RISD BFA, and chairs the Board of Philadelphia Stories.




Beatrice Johnson, Environmental Educator for ecomaine

Bea Johnson is the Environmental Educator for ecomaine based out of Portland, ME. Ecomaine provides comprehensive, long-term solid waste solutions in a safe, environmentally responsible, economically sounds manner. As an educator Bea provides public awareness of sustainable waste management strategies and promotes the EPA solid waste hierarchy throughout the state of Maine, specifically in ecomaine’s 73 member communities. She does this through a multitude of applications including public outreach, community classes, in person tours, social and digital media, and continuous engagement and representation of ecomaine in the solid waste industry. Bea has a BS from The University of Maine in Ecology and Environmental Sciences with a minor in Political Science and a focus on Sustainability, Environmental Policy, and Natural Resource Management.

Emily Jones, Compliance Assurance Section Supervisor, NH Department of Environmental Services


Abbey Massaro, Senior Waste Reduction Consultant at the Center for EcoTechnology (CET)

Abbey Massaro is a Senior Waste Reduction Consultant at the Center for EcoTechnology (CET), where she has conducted waste assessments and provided individualized assistance to businesses throughout the country. Since 2018, she has supported CET initiatives to help commercial and institutional entities develop recycling, reuse and food waste recovery programs as supported by the MassDEP, NYSDEC, EPA, USDA, and more. Abbey is a member of the board of directors at the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility and MassRecycle. She has over ten years professional experience in the solid waste management industry and holds a B.S. in Environmental Conservation and a certificate in Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Judd Michael, Ph.D., Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Penn State University

Dr. Judd Michael is a Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and a National Insurance Professor of Safety and Health. His areas of expertise include safety, trade secrets, packaging and pallets, sustainable business, sports greening, and wood, building products, and paper industries. He has led numerous university sustainability initiatives, is the Big10 conference representative to the Green Sports Alliance, and co-wrote NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway sustainability report. Judd received a BS in Marketing and an MBA from Texas A&M University, and a PhD in Wood Science (minor in Business) from Penn State. 


Austin Mills, Compliance Specialist, NH Department of Environmental Services


Tim Rassias, President and COO, Bright Feeds

Tim Rassias is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Bright Feeds, a New England-based green startup solving the food waste crisis by diverting unwanted food from the waste stream and converting it into a high-quality, nutrient-rich animal feed replacement for soy and corn. Tim is a licensed 





Brett Rogers, Vice President of Environmental Projects, Inc. (EPI)

Brett Rogers started at EPI as a field chemist and has advanced to his current position as Vice President. He oversees EPI's hazardous waste transfer facility and disposal operations including labpacks, household hazardous waste collections, and waste disposal.


Jerry Sjogren, Senior Director of Safety, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)

Jerry Sjogren has over 30 years of experience in the environmental, health & safety (EHS) and transportation industries. Prior to joining ISRI, Sjogren was the Safety Director at Westborough, Mass.-based E.L. Harvey & Sons where he managed the development and administration of the company’s safety program and environmental issues, including compliance with all levels of related government regulations. In addition to receiving EHS certifications in Emergency Response & Incident Command, Sjogren has training in employee relations and government compliance subjects. Sjogren has served on local and national professional industry organizations, from the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) to ANSI Z245 Sub-Committees. He is a member of the Westborough Local Emergency Planning Committee, and former chair of the ISRI Safety & Environmental Council (ISEC).


Ray Zielke, VP, Sales & Marketing, Universal Recycling Technology LLC.

Ray Zielke is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Universal Recycling Technologies (URT).  With 22 years of professional experience in the recycling industry, Ray provides leadership for government agencies and enterprise businesses seeking to address some of the industry’s most notable problems.