Keynote Speaker

Megan Ponder

Megan Ponder

Megan is an independent consultant specializing in the rapidly evolving waste and recycling sector. Megan’s work has recently focused on waste plastics including global plastics production, recycling systems and trends, and global waste flows. She is currently working as a producer on The Story of Plastic, a documentary film on plastic by The Story of Stuff Project. The Story of Plastic documents the full lifecycle impacts of plastic and the inspiring efforts around the world to address it.

Previously, in her role at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at the City of Portland, she worked on solid waste and recycling policy and programs and served as the bureau’s legislative liaison. She led the development and implementation of the Portland plastic bag ban and served as the mayor’s sustainability policy coordinator. Megan is a former AOR Legislative Chair and currently serves on the AOR legislative committee. She sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with ocean conservation nonprofit 5 Gyres, documenting plastic pollution in the South Atlantic Gyre.

Megan’s presentation will focus on what she’s learned traveling with The Story of Plastic project, and how it relates to the future of waste prevention and recycling in Oregon.

Session Speakers & Moderators

Sarah Benedict

Sarah Benedict | Recology Davis

Sarah works as the Waste Zero Specialist for Recology Davis in California. Sarah performs outreach in her community to encourage sustainable waste management practices and conducts waste audits to implement California state laws such as Mandatory Commercial Recycling (AB 341) and Mandatory Commercial Organics (AB 1826). Before coming to Davis, Sarah interned at nearby Recology Vacaville Solano and Dixon where she took on the challenge of recycling contamination—a significant issue highlighted by the Chinese National Sword. Over the course of her three-month internship, Sarah facilitated a program that lowered recycling contamination by 8.7%. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations: Global Environment, Health, and Natural Resources from UC Davis. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and “chickening” at a local community garden.

Pete Chism-Winfield

Pete Chism-Winfield | City of Portland

Pete is a program coordinator with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at the City of Portland. Pete has served as an AOR Board member since 2011, and he’s been going to AOR conferences since the late nineties, a time where plastic ruled the youth through Teletubbies, Gameboys, and a purple talking dinosaur named Barney. After being educated at U of O with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and anthropology, Pete has worked to advance materials-related programs and policies related to waste prevention, reuse, and recycling for 20 years. Recently, Pete led the process for the City of Portland that resulted in Council passing a policy to reduce single-use plastic serviceware to add to current policies that ban plastic foam and bags.


Nicole Hernandez-Marrs | Metro

Nicole is an Education Specialist with Metro’s Property and Environmental Services, and develops and implements a range of school-based resource conservation presentations and programs for youth in grades K-5 while also leading the ZooQuest food waste prevention behavior change and volunteer development program in collaboration with the Oregon Zoo. Nicole previously worked for The Children’s Museum at La Habra in California as well as multiple zoos and wildlife education centers developing curriculum; delivering presentations; and coordinating visitor, school, and community programs. 

Sara Kirby

Sara Kirby | Metro

Sara is a Senior Solid Waste Planner at Metro, the regional government in greater Portland, Oregon. Her work currently focuses on a range of topics including multifamily recycling efforts, contamination reduction, and long-term planning efforts. Sara has more than 18 years of professional experience in education, outreach, and program and project management, and has been with Metro for 10 years. She is a graduate of Arizona State University where she studied biology.

Laura Kutner Tokarski

Laura Kutner Tokarski | Trash for Peace
LinkedIn | Trash for Peace LinkedIn

Laura is the founder and Executive Director of Trash for Peace. She is a Peace Corps alumna and native of Portland, Oregon. She holds a BA in anthropology and Spanish from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Portland State University. She is fluent in Spanish and has over 10 years of experience in sustainable community development, especially as it relates to providing hands-on, sustainability education to youth and families in multi-family, affordable housing sites through Trash for Peace's Sustainability Education Program. Since its incorporation as a 501(c)3 in 2012, Trash for Peace has gone on to serve over 300 youth and families and divert hundreds of pounds of trash from the landfill every year, and was recognized with an Excellence in Community Driven Programming Award from Home Forward in 2018. Laura is also an instructor at Mt. Hood Community College and received a distinguished teaching award in 2016. In her free time she loves to read, go on adventures with her family and friends, and explore the outdoors.

Andrea Lai

Andrea Lai | Cascadia Consulting Group

Andrea is an Associate at Cascadia Consulting Group. She conducts research, technical writing, and data analysis to support diversion projects, working to ensure that new plans and programs are well-supported by known best practices. Her work includes research and review of commercial and multifamily code from jurisdictions throughout the West Coast and analysis of multifamily program data to identify building characteristics and outreach activities that correlate to strong food waste collection system outcomes. Andrea has a BS in engineering from F.W. College of Engineering.

Leslie Lanzar

Leslie Lanzar  | Recology Western Oregon

Leslie is a Waste Zero Specialist at Recology Western Oregon, since 2012. She is also an Oregon Green School Regional Coordinator and Washington County Master Recycler. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Portland State University. Leslie will be presenting video recordings of Elders from The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. The Elders will be telling stories about how they, or generations past, would reduce, reuse, and recycle. She is grateful to the Elders for allowing her the honor of sharing their wisdom at the AOR Conference.

Bernie Lee

Bernie Lee  | Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries

Bernie is the Commodities Research Analyst for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), a nonprofit trade association representing the for-profit recycling industry. After joining the staff in the fall of 2016, he has pushed to expand ISRI’s market reporting and analysis on non-metallic recyclables and the international trade flows of scrap, establishing a database of international exports and imports of major scrap recyclables. Bernie enjoys speaking on the myriad of factors that play a role in the efficient functioning of scrap markets and has made presentations at the 2018 Fiber Recycling Course at Western Michigan University’s Pilot Plants and was a panelist on the future of recycling markets at the 2018 RISI Asian Conference in Shanghai, China.

Brennen Matherly

Brennen Matherly | Student

Brennen is an 8th grade student from Eugene, Oregon. He started Strawless Oregon almost two years ago.

Strawless Oregon started as a classroom assignment to write a letter to the local paper’s editor and legislatures, and he chose un-recycled single-use plastic straw waste and their damage to marine life, people, and the environment.

Next he got his school and many friends and local businesses to commit to be plastic straw free. He volunteered at the Plastics Round Up last year and this year to help recycle plastics at the Lane County Glenwood station. Brennen worked alongside Master Recyclers to recycle and compost food and waste at the Piscah Mushroom Festival and Whitaker Thanksgiving Diner. He held a screening of STRAWS, the documentary about toxic single-use plastic waste at a local Eugene business, Bier Stein. He invited Lane Country Waste Management, Master Recyclers, BRING Recycling, and other breweries and distilleries that went strawless. Brennen created the #SUCKLESS movement with stickers, website, and social media. There were over a thousand concerned citizens that signed his petition to ban single-use plastic straws and make non-plastic straws on request only. He turned the petition signatures in and lobbied at the state capital to have non-plastic straws on request only. He continues to speak publicly at Eugene City Council for an ordinance and in Salem to State senators and legislatures to end automatically handing out plastic straws. Environment Oregon recognized his work as a concerned Oregonian and featured him and Strawless Oregon on their website.


Jon Mayer | Metro

Jon is the Education Programs Manager for Metro’s Property and Environmental Services and provides guidance and support for a range of youth and adult education/development programs focusing on resource conservation, garbage and recycling, toxics reduction, and career development programs. Jon has 18 years of experience leading youth and adult education programs with organizations such as University of Florida, Oregon State University, National 4-H Council, USDA, USFS, USFWS, and Oregon Department of Forestry.

Marta McGuire

Marta McGuire | Metro

Marta is a principal planner for Metro, where she served as the project manager for the development of the 2030 Regional Waste Plan. She is also a faculty instructor in Portland State's Civic Leadership Minor, teaching classes in civic engagement and public service. She served two terms on the City of Wilsonville’s Planning Commission advising city council on legislative and land use matters. Marta holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and is finishing her Ph.D. in public policy at Portland State University, writing a dissertation on how utilization of an equity lens may counteract planning practices that maintain inequities for historically marginalized communities.

Jenna McInnis

Jenna McInnis | City of Kirkland

Jenna is the Recycling Coordinator for the City of Kirkland, where she helps residents and businesses figure out how to reduce waste and recycle and compost the right way. She works directly with multifamily properties to improve services and increase recycling and composting. Jenna also serves on the board of the Washington State Recycling Association. Before joining City of Kirkland, worked with the King County Housing Authority. Jenna's background is in sustainability and urban planning, and she has degrees from the University of Washington and California Polytechnic State University.   

Rob Nathan

Rob Nathan | Metro

Rob is a solid waste planner at Metro leading community engagement initiatives focused on reducing illegal dumping around the region. He also oversees Metro’s Community Enhancement Grants, a program designed to increase the benefits solid waste facilities offer their neighboring communities. Prior to working at Metro, Rob was a member of Metro’s Regional Waste Plan’s Equity Work Group where he helped develop the principles of the 2030 Regional Waste Plan. Rob has been working with nonprofits and government agencies to advance equity and sustainability for the past 10 years.

Gary Panknin

Gary Panknin  | PakTech

Gary is the Sustainability Officer at PakTech, coordinating and driving initiatives, both internally and externally, related to environmental sustainability and serving as the lead spokesperson on quality, sustainability, and regulatory compliance. He is a successful business professional with a degree in business administration serving in numerous management roles for over 25 years in the plastics industry. It is Gary’s firm belief that a sustainable, healthy environment and economy are entirely possible and feasible with hard work, diligence, ingenuity, and the will to succeed.

Chris Parta

Chris Parta | Parta Oregon, Inc.

Chris is the founder and Principal of Parta Oregon, Inc., a government relations firm based in Beaverton, Oregon. As a government relations consultant, Chris represents a variety of clients including multiple environmental/natural resource organization and higher education faculty associations by advocating for them in the state legislature and administrative agencies. Chris began his government relations career working with C and E Systems and Kristen Leonard beginning in 2008 before opening his own firm in 2014. During his tenure at C and E Systems Chris worked with a wide array of clients including legal associations, environment groups, human service providers, and land use advocates, building lasting relationships with legislators and key policymakers in Oregon. Chris attended the University of San Diego where he graduated magna cum laude with a BA degree in ocean studies, emphasis in political science with a Pacific Rim focus. He has worked as a Sea Grant State Fellow in the California Senate, and IT administration and as a government contractor for the US Navy. In 2008 Chris graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, earning his Juris Doctorate with a certificate in environmental law. He is a current member of the Oregon State Bar Association.

Katie Pearmine

Katie Pearmine | Oregon Food Bank

Katie grew up on a farm in the North Willamette Valley, and has worked in agriculture since childhood. As the Strategic Sourcing Manager for Oregon Food Bank, Katie leads a team responsible for procuring food for people experiencing hunger in Oregon and Clark County Washington. Katie’s previous work includes: field work and outdoor education in rural Oregon, 10 years in publishing and marketing, and five years with Oregon Department of Agriculture. Katie spends her free time on food access and land use issues, and is chairing Oregon State University, Food Innovation Center’s advisory board and acting a Commissioner for Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Pete Pearson

Pete Pearson  | World Wildlife Fund

Pete is a Sr. Director and leads WWF work on food loss & waste, helping businesses and communities understand agriculture’s impact on wildlife and habitat conservation. Pete has 10 years of technology and grocery retail experience with companies including Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, and Albertsons; has worked with public schools and hospitals as a sustainability and zero waste consultant; co-founded a sustainable agriculture non-profit in Idaho; and co-produced a documentary film on local and regenerative agriculture. Pete currently lives in Washington, DC, and enjoys fly fishing, sailing, skiing, and exploring the outdoors with his family.

Eben Polk

Eben Polk  | Clackamas County

Eben manages Clackamas County’s Sustainability and Solid Waste Program. We develop initiatives that reduce and prevent waste and lead the county’s efforts to tackle climate change and wasted food. Together with eight public libraries in the County, we are developing Libraries of Things. Eben has been an ecologist, environmental consultant, and policy analyst with diverse organizations such as the Nicholas Institute at Duke University and the UN Environment Program in Geneva. He enjoys camping and gardening with family, and is an enthusiast for local food, environmental ethics, and theology.

Eadaoin Quinn

Eadaoin Quinn | EFS-plastics

Eadaoin is the Director of Business Development and Procurement for EFS-plastics, a plastics recycling company focused on recycling #3-7 mixed plastics and plastic film. Eadaoin has worked in the recycling industry for the past eight years, formerly working with Sims Municipal Recycling in New York City and Canada Fibers in Toronto.

Peter Spendelow

Peter Spendelow  | Oregon DEQ

Peter first worked on litter and recycling issues through work on a Washington bottle bill initiative in 1978, conducting a litter study in Oregon and Washington in 1979, and as a founding board member of Washington Citizens for Recycling (now Zero Waste Washington) in 1980. For the past 34 years, Peter has been a natural resource specialist in what is now the Materials Management Program of DEQ, working on materials management issues, including DEQ’s Plastics Recovery Assessment Project in 2014.


Serilda Summers-McGee

Serilda Summers-McGee | Workplace Change, LLC

Serilda s the Owner of Workplace Change, LLC, a company that exists to help organizations achieve workplace excellence. She is also author of the book Change the Workgame: Building and Sustaining a Diverse Workforce, which instructs readers on the best and worst practices of recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce using case studies from Serilda’s consulting experiences.

Prior to launching her company, Ms. Summers-McGee held previous roles as the Human Resources and Workforce Development Director for the Portland Development Commission, Human Resources Director for the Oregon Department of Education, Talent Planning Manager at Kaiser Permanente Northwest, and she was the first executive director for Partners in Diversity, an affiliate of the Portland Business Alliance, where she worked with human resources departments at companies throughout the region on strategies to recruit and retain executives of color. She has more than 15 years of experience in government, higher education, and corporate environments with experience across a broad range of HR practices.

Ms. Summers-McGee received a Bachelor of Science degree from Grand Valley State University, a Master of Arts in student affairs administration from Ball State University, and a Master of Business Administration from Willamette University. She is a board member of Meals on Wheels Oregon, Stand for Children, and Willamette University’s Atkinson Business School. In 2014 she received the Portland Business Journal’s Forty Under Forty award for professional excellence, leadership, and community commitment. And in 2018 she received the Portland Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award for blazing a trail personally and professionally for other women to follow.


Lake Thelen | Metro

Lake works with Metro’s Property and Environmental Services Department as a secondary education specialist engaging middle and high school students in free, interactive presentations about waste reduction and recycling, natural resources, and climate change. Prior to Metro, Lake worked as an outreach educator with the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership’s outdoor and classroom programs, and has a medley of education experience in both formal and informal contexts including leading nature camps, mentoring youth, and teaching high school science in Spanish.

Angela Wallis

Angela Wallis | Seattle Public Utilities

Angela has been dedicated to waste prevention and recycling in Seattle since 2005. As a former sustainability manager for King County Housing Authority, she started one of the country's first comprehensive multifamily recycling programs for low-income residents. She joined Seattle Public Utilities in 2017 as senior program manager to help implement Seattle's solid waste collection contracts and ensure developer compliance with solid waste code for proposed buildings. Angela served on the WSRA board from 2010-2016. She has a BA in environmental studies from Dickinson College and an MPA from the University of Washington.