Born: I was born March 25, 1969, in Milwaukee.
Education: I earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1992.
Family: I married Jim Heffernan in 2013, and we have no children.
Q: When and how did you enter the paper recycling industry?
A: I started working at the Peltz Group in October 1994. As Wisconsin introduced new recycling legislation on Jan. 1, 1995, I was hired to source new business for the company’s plants. I later worked on national accounts for Peltz and then went into marketing. I worked for Peltz until January 2003, when it joined Waste Management’s Recycle America division to form Recycle America Alliance. I continued my role in marketing until I left in November 2011 to join Pioneer Industries International.
Q: What was it about the industry that prompted you to build a career in it?
A: It was really the people at the Peltz Group. They instilled in me a desire to continue growing and learning more about the industry.
Q: What have been your most rewarding professional achievements?
A: The relationships I’ve built with people. The level of trust and honesty I have with my suppliers and consumers has led to long-lasting partnerships and friendships. As a broker, you’ve got to be able to have honest conversations with people. m.
Q: Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
A: I collect Fiestaware dishes and have amassed a collection going back to the company’s start in 1936. I just love the product, the community of collectors, and that it continues to be made in America (Newell, W.Va.).
Q: If you could improve anything about yourself, what would it be?
A: My patience always needs improvement, but my latest struggle is with Zoom meetings. The challenge is to stay fully engaged and present in every moment.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I like to go hiking and traveling. I do a hiking trip in a different country with a group of friends every other year. My husband and I also are always on the go. My favorite destination in the U.S. is Key West, where the weather is always perfect!
Q: When and why did your company decide to join ISRI and the PSI Chapter?
A: Waste Management has been an ISRI and PSI member for a long time, but it wasn’t involved in the association until about five years ago. Since then we’ve been very involved. As the recycling industry changed over the years, we felt the need to have a stronger voice and a leadership position in the industry’s trade association. We view ISRI as the mouthpiece for the recycling industry, and our conduit to the industry now is through ISRI.
Q: Have you held any volunteer leadership positions within PSI?
A: I was PSI’s events chair for two terms, from 2014 to 2018. Then I served as an at-large member of PSI’s executive board from 2018 to 2020. Currently, I am the Secretary/Treasurer for PSI.
Q: What benefits have you received from your PSI service?
A: It has opened up new opportunities for me and for my company. One thing we value is having a voice at the table, especially during discussions regarding specifications—updating the grades, creating new grades. Another benefit is hearing firsthand what’s going on in the export markets (Southeast Asia, Europe, and other regions). At times the level of commitment in the chapter can be significant, but it’s worth it.
Q: What are the major challenges facing your company and the overall paper recycling industry today?
A: Obviously, in the near term, the major challenge we’re facing is COVID-19 and the impact it has had not only on our industry, but every industry. The question we’re all asking is what will it look like when the industry recovers? Other challenges our company is facing are labor and transportation. These two factors certainly are important to the success of a company and are something we continue to focus on each and every day.