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Agency Update - Summer 2018

Congratulations Business Efficiency Awardees!

2018 Business Efficiency Awards

Five Alameda County businesses representing a wide range of industries were selected for their efforts to reduce waste to landfill through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and composting. They are:

  • Redwood Surgery Center, Castro Valley - Excellence in Recycling and Composting
  • Ruby King Bakery, Oakland - Excellence in Recycling and Composting
  • Checkers Catering and Special Events, Livermore - Excellence in Waste Prevention & Reuse
  • New Parkway Theater, Oakland - Excellence in Waste Prevention & Reuse
  • Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville - Excellence in Waste Prevention & Reuse

The winners were recognized at the June 27 StopWaste Board Meeting.  

CRRA Honors StopWaste Recycling Trailblazer Tom Padia

The California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) will recognize StopWaste deputy executive director and recycling veteran, Tom Padia, at its annual Conference and Tradeshow in Oakland in July.

With StopWaste for over 26 years, Tom has helped shape the recycling industry and has played a major role in developing key policies such as the plant debris landfill ban, mandatory recycling and reusable bag ordinances.

Tom was instrumental in getting California’s landmark Bottle Bill passed in 1986 and during his tenure at NorCal Waste Systems (now Recology) managed the design and startup of curbside recycling in San Francisco.Tom began his career at the Ecology Action in Santa Cruz and San Francisco Scavenger, and worked as a curbside driver for the El Cerrito Recycling Center.


SWEET is Back This Fall

Interested in learning how to reduce food waste and give back to your community? We are now accepting applications for our StopWaste Environmental Educator Training (SWEET) program starting September 5.  

Open to community leaders, environmentalists, and sustainability advocates, the seven-week training offers technical assistance around food waste reduction. Graduates will become certified StopWaste Environmental Educators. 

The training schedule, syllabus, and application are online. Applications are due by August 15.

Employee Spotlight

Pat Cabrera

Administrative Services Director

Pat Cabrera joined the agency in 1998 as Administrative Services Director, and is responsible for managing and directing Human Resources, Information Services, Risk Management and Finance. She previously worked for the City of Albany as Finance and Administrative Services Director. She is a graduate of Mills College and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from St. Mary’s College.

What is your favorite part of working at StopWaste?

It’s definitely the people. My job encompasses all aspects of HR which allows me to talk to everyone and to help people, so this is probably the most fulfilling part. It can also be challenging. For example, we just completed a comprehensive classification and compensation study where we came up with a new transparent salary system as well as expanding job classifications and developing new ones. Our recommendations were well received by both staff and the Board committee overseeing the process. Although not directly related to this project we conducted a survey to find out what motivated people in the workforce – it turns out that money was not the biggest motivator. Instead, doing a good job, being acknowledged, having opportunities for career development, and getting good feedback proved to be more important than huge raises. That information is very useful to me in trying to address employee concerns and job satisfaction.

How has the Agency changed over the years and what has stayed the same?

I’ve been here for so long, I’ve seen the culture evolve. When I came in, they were switching from a typical hierarchical structure to a team-based structure. My job was to figure out how this new structure could work in the public sector and since the “reorg” meant different things to different people, establishing a clear understanding of what this new order encompassed. That was not easy. No other agency had attempted this type of organizational change at the time, so we were (and probably still are) one of the first government agencies to do so.

In addition, until the Energy Council was founded we were focused on solid waste management, reuse, and recycling, and while these are still important, we’re now involved with projects related to all aspects of energy efficiency. That change has also helped to diversify our revenue and for us to continue to be on the cutting edge.

What hasn’t changed is staff commitment to the mission – in fact; this commitment has only grown stronger.

How has your time here changed you?

I’ve certainly become more environmentally conscious through the years. But I didn’t come in as a program expert. I might say I’m a good example of how you don’t have to be an “environmentalist” to make a difference. Today I can communicate with my friends and family on best practices for things like proper sorting and recycling. I was recently in a conversation with someone about how they were thinking about switching to artificial lawn, and because of my time here, I was able to inform them that, in fact, artificial lawns are not the most environmentally friendly route. Instead, I recommended that they look on our website for a variety of Bay-Friendly gardening or landscaping options in order to convert their lawn in an environmentally friendly way.

Any plans after StopWaste?

When I retire, I would like to volunteer in health care advocacy. My daughter works for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide is something that hits every socio-economic strata. I’ve been on walks with my daughter to raise awareness about the stigma surrounding suicide. I see the posters of people who are gone, and they are mostly young. It’s horrific. I hope to support this effort in the Bay Area in some grassroots capacity. I also think I’d like to be a personal shopper, but that would just be something I’d do to help my friends who don’t like to shop.

What do you do when not working?

For what seems like forever now, we’ve been remodeling our house, which has now extended to the outdoors. That has totally consumed me. I have also sang in various groups, and I’d like to get more involved. Jazz standards are my favorite. Under the Clinton administration we sang at the Christmas performance at the White House. Our choral director said Hillary looked at the tapes and personally selected our group. Whether or not that actually happened, it sounds good, so I am sticking to it.