Walking the Path
When I started working at Thermostat Recycling Corp., I was excited to join a nonprofit under the canopy of interests I had studied in college, including sustainability and other environmental issues.
While TRC has a singular, arguably hyper-focused goal of finding, recovering and recycling mercury-containing thermostats, joining TRC allowed me an insider view, from the ground up, of how a nonprofit functions in the environmental space.
Unsurprisingly, I suspect that most of us, when we start a new job, wonder if we’re up to the task and what the duties entail in real life that might not appear in the job description we read before applying to the position.
It was everything for which one could hope. I was immediately engaged in various duties and had a mentor who was gracious with his time and helped me to map out the larger picture of what we did.
My recent promotion as executive director is my third position with TRC, and frankly, I’m thrilled. I gained an advantage by starting at the lowest rung on the ladder of responsibility and tasks. It allowed me access to the daily minutiae and mundane duties that we find in every job. Then, as I matured on the job, it enabled me to more fully appreciate the interconnections that allow TRC to function, from communicating with our partners to talking to HVAC techs on the other end of the collection spectrum who remove and recycle the thermostats. In short, my broader vision began to develop.
A bonus has been attending various industry trade shows to share our message with an even wider audience and to make contacts to ensure we collect more thermostats. My biannual trips to our recycling center in Port Washington, Wisconsin, have also been illuminating. I got to see how the recycling process occurs and what happens to the mercury when we finally prepare for storage.
Most of us succeed in jobs by daily efforts, small gains if you will, to meet the overarching goal. I believe that’s true for my tenure at TRC. I have been fortunate to join and succeed with the organization at a time when our efforts have made a positive impact.
I intend to continue in that direction. My simple goal as the executive director is to lead the organization with a clarity of vision and a commitment to recovering every mercury-containing thermostat we can find.