Our Board Members
The Board of Directors for the Recycling Association of Minnesota is filled with some of the finest members of Minnesota’s environmental community. Meet them below!
Paul Gardner: Clean Water Council – Chair
Paul Gardner is the Administrator of the Clean Water Council at the State of Minnesota. From 1997 to 2006 he served as the Executive Director of RAM before serving two terms with Brita Sailer in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Paul worked with a major consumer brand to advocate for extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging in several states, leading industry to invest more than $100 million into recycling infrastructure. In recent years, he set up curbside textile collection in the Chicago and Twin Cities markets before coming to the State in early 2019. Paul is a volunteer Minnesota Water Steward and Water Conservation Adviser through the nonprofit organization Freshwater and his local watershed district.
Jodi Taitt: EcoConsilium, Inc. – Vice Chair
Jodi Taitt is a mission-driven economist. With over 30 years of industry experience and a passion for diverting waste from landfills and incinerators, she has no greater joy than to help organizations save money, achieve their sustainability goals and reduce their environmental footprint. As founder and principal consultant of EcoConsilium, she partners with business and government to lean their operations, decrease fixed costs, increase profits and comply with ever-increasing regulations using cutting edge waste prevention, reuse, recycling and organic waste recovery strategies. Prior to consulting, she was the State of Minnesota Recycling Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Administration’s Resource Recovery Office. Jodi currently serves as a founding board member and secretary of the Meadow Lake Watershed Association.
Martin Bergstedt: Amazon Environmental, Inc. – Treasurer
Martin Bergstedt obtained a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota and joined Economics Laboratory (now Ecolab) at their pilot plant in Eagan performing organic synthesis process development studies and plant start-ups. From there he held positions of progressively increasing scope and responsibility at ETD Technology and DuPont Electronics, and then spent ten years in General Manager positions with Aptus Environmental in Lakeville, and USFilter (Veolia) at their Recovery Services facility in Roseville. He then went to U.S. Water Services as Director of Engineering and Project Management, overseeing the design, specification and installation of water treatment systems for 60 new ethanol plants. Since 2012 he has been with Amazon Environmental in Fridley, the nation’s largest consumer latex paint recycler and is currently President and responsible for four locations across the mid-west and west.
Susan Heffron: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency – Secretary
Susan Heffron is a 30-year veteran of the MPCA. She currently works in Recycling Market Development. Susan helps to create and maintain the demand for recyclable material by working with a number of different stakeholders – businesses, haulers, processors, end markets, universities and local governments. She connects people with resources to overcome barriers to using recycled material. Susan also administers the newly started recycling markets development grant program with funding from the legislature. Susan received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Minnesota. Her first professional job was for the MPCA and she never left! She has worked in Solid Waste, Air Quality, and Environmental Review. Susan is also a 23-year volunteer at the Minnesota Zoo and a hockey mom.
Kristin Pierskalla: Hennepin County – Member at Large
Kristin has a B.S. from the University of Minnesota in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, and has been in the solid waste and recycling field since 1996. Kristin was a RAM Board member from 1998-2004, winning the Denise Kolar Award in 2000. Kristin served on RAM’s conference committee, America Recycles Day committee, as well as on the host committee for the 2005 NRC Congress and Exposition in Minneapolis. Kristin has worked for Hennepin County Environment & Energy since 2000, having various roles for the County in solid waste, recycling, reuse and waste reduction programs. The most prominent program Kristin has managed is Hennepin County’s Choose to Reuse program, which she has been program manager since 2004, working on educating Hennepin residents on the environmental benefits of reuse and elevating the importance of reuse retailers throughout Hennepin County. In her free time Kristin currently volunteers for community organizations in Bloomington, Minnesota, assisting the Bloomington Crime Prevention Association in their annual Book’em Used Book Sale, one of the largest book sale events in the Midwest, as well as serving on the Executive Committees for the Jefferson Band Booster Club (1997-present), and the Bloomington Activities Foundation (2021-). Most people that know Kristin know she loves everything Star Wars, and loves attending Gopher music and sporting events.
Maria Caram: MAC International
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Maria established herself in MN in 1987. After obtaining a degree in Computer Science/Management of Information Systems degree from the University of MN in 1992, Maria contributed to the designs of multiple systems at Northwest Airlines. After her retirement in 2014, Maria has worked in importing and sales of Dominican goods, and has a concern for how thoughtlessly people act around waste, not thinking on how it affects the environment, so since 2018, she has participated in activities that promote recycling, reusing and more profoundly, reducing. Her knowledge and experience landed her participation in a grant from USAID in the Dominican Republic, which is wrapping up. She is interested in contributing to a better society, to education and social behavior change regarding SWM and recycling.
Robert Craggs: Burns & McDonnell
Robert leads the Solid Waste and Resource Recovery consulting group and is a National Market Sector Leader for Burns & McDonnell’s Environmental Services Global Practice. He has worked in the environmental consulting field for more than 28 years providing planning, financial, and technical consulting assistance to public and private clients throughout North America in the areas of solid waste, recycling, water resources, and renewable energy.
Robert has a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning and a Juris Doctorate of Law. He is presently SWANA’s International Board Director for the Planning and Management Technical Division. He resides in Lakeland, Minnesota where he previously served as both mayor and a City Council member.
John Curry: University of Minnesota
John Curry is a Development Officer at the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. He helped the College raise $27 million for scholarships, research and strategic initiatives in it’s recently completed ‘Driven’ Campaign. Prior to that, John worked for environmental and wildlife focused non-profit organizations including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Audubon society. In addition, he spent over a decade working for the Minnesota House of Representatives, primarily for the committee overseeing the Judiciary and the Department of Corrections.
John has been active on a number of boards and community organizations. He is a Master Naturalist who loves the outdoors, especially hiking, biking, boating and xc skiing.
Toni Gerard: Anoka Hennepin Credit Union
Toni Gerard has served in the non-profit financial sector for over 30 years. She’s had the privilege to collaborate with many creative and successful people whose efforts have advanced the quality of life for the people they serve, including the Phillips neighborhood organizers, the Hope Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, Lutheran Social Services Financial Service Center, and many community development credit unions across the country. She is looking forward to helping RAM promote responsible use of resources through recycling and waste reductions.
Mark Hackbarth: Vonco
Mark is the Business Development Representative at the Vonco Industrial Waste Campus in Becker. His introduction to the solid waste and recycling industry began in 2007 with Randy’s Environmental Services. His experience has led him through the progression of single-stream recycling, expansion of sophisticated material recovery facilities, the collection and processing of organics recycling, and profiling industrial material. Mark has a continued passion for the betterment of environmental processes, recycling solutions, and best practices to minimize waste.
Stephen Haugh: Central State Wire Products
Stephen is the Director of Sales & Marketing of Central States Wire Products. He has been in the recycling industry for over 18 years serving first as a Sourcing Manager with the Peltz Group out of Milwaukee, then the Director of Sourcing for Recycle American Alliance throughout the West and Midwest and now with CSWP in the Twin Cities. He is passionate about recycling and continues to work with the public and private sectors to stress the importance and benefits of recycling. He is also a standing member of the North and South Dakota Recycling Associations and a member of the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin (AROW).
Chelsea Moody: St. Paul Public Schools
Chelsea has been an Environmental Specialist at Saint Paul Public Schools since 2016. She is responsible for managing the municipal solid waste, recycling and organics program for the school district’s 73 buildings totaling 7.7 million sq.ft. She provides educational outreach, training to staff and students and works across departments to reduce waste, promote recycling best practices, improve recycling efficiency and reduce contamination. She also focuses on health & safety compliance and implementing energy related and other sustainability initiatives. Prior to working with SPPS, Chelsea worked at Minneapolis Parks & Rec focusing on natural resource management and coordinating the work of the MN Conservation Corps crew. She also served 2 service terms in AmeriCorps programs: MN Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors program leading youth crews and Minnesota GreenCorps promoting energy conservation initiatives. Chelsea received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from University of Minnesota, Morris.
Pete O’Keefe: Retired
From 2013 to 2021, Pete served as ReStore Director for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, increasing sales and profits fivefold over the time. The New Brighton and Minneapolis non-profit thrift stores keep 3.2 million pounds of material from entering local landfills each year. Earlier in his career, he held a similar role for the Waste and Recycling Department at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, spearheading the public opening of the U of M Reuse Program Warehouse.
Between managing those two social enterprises, Pete was a member of the Environmental Department at Target Corporation. He coordinated the sale, recycling or redeployment of fixtures and equipment, derived from two hundred store remodels plus a dozen store closings each year. He also administered investment recovery contracts for Xcel Energy, focusing on sale of excess power plant equipment plus recycling of non-ferrous metals within an eight-state territory.
Tim Oswald: Tri-County North
Tim is the Tri-County Waste Coordinator based in Waite Park. He is experienced in collaborating with engineers, government agencies and contractors to ensure regulatory compliance for construction, reclamation and environmentally sensitive projects. Prior to his current position, Tim worked in landfill operations for Waste Management and held several environmental science positions throughout the State of North Dakota government. Tim has degree in Geology and a minor in Education from North Dakota State University. He is interested in joining the RAM Board to network with other professionals in the industry and apply new information to his work in central Minnesota.
Michael Reed: Ramsey County Environmental Health Division
Michael Reed has over 28 years of combined public and private sector experience in environmental management, recycling, composting, landfill operations, permit review, project management, public involvement, policy development, deconstruction and building material salvage and legislative advocacy. He currently supervises the Ramsey County Solid & Hazardous Waste Compliance Program. He has served as RAM Chair for the past 4 years and served as Vice Chair for the preceding 3 years.
Steve Schiefelbein: Republic Services
Steve Schiefelbein is Republic Services’ Recycling Sales Representative for their Upper Midwest Region. He is responsible for acquiring and then the marketing of 3rd Party recycling volume. He has held this position with Republic Services’ for the past 5 years and has been in the Recycling Industry for 8 years. He has successfully spearheaded numerous recycling initiatives which have diverted a significant amount of volume from either being landfilled or illegally burned; one of the most notable projects being the recycling of Boat Wrap. Over 200,000 lbs. of boat wrap was recycled in 2018 alone. He also spends a great deal of time working with and educating the Public and Private Sector on “Best Recycling Practices.” Steve received his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. He is active in youth coaching and was a Board Member of the Valley Athletic Association.
Elizabeth Walsh: Minnesota Waste Wise
Elizabeth is a Senior Sustainability Specialist at the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation, a non-profit affiliate of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. She works throughout Minnesota to facilitate waste reduction at businesses and multi-unit residential properties. Elizabeth works closely with local governments as well as property managers and business owners to improve recycling programs by providing technical assistance, custom recommendations, recycling trainings, and grant assistance. Prior to working with Waste Wise, Elizabeth worked with St. Paul Parks and Recreation, serving the public of St. Paul by developing and implementing environmentally focused community programs. Elizabeth is a LEED Green Associate and has a BS in Environmental Science from Creighton University.
Maggie Yauk: Anoka County
Maggie Mattacola Yauk has over 15 years in the solid waste and recycling industry. She is currently working for Anoka County in the Recycling & Resource Solutions Unit guiding solid waste, recycling and organics policy and plans for the County. Her previous roles include serving as the Executive Director of SWANA Land of Lakes Chapter, the Executive Director of Operations of RAM and Communications Director of RAM. Maggie has a BS in Political Science and Environmental Law and a Master’s degree in Public and Non-profit Administration.