Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2023
AUTHOR: Team Viably

A Week of Empowerment and Innovation at the 2023 NWRA Women’s Leadership Conference

Empowering Leadership - Napa Valley Wine Train traveling through a vineyard

Hana Previte, Events and Training Experience Manager at Viably, recently attended the NWRA Women’s Council 20th Anniversary Leadership Conference. As part of her and Viably’s commitment to the conference’s mission of advancing the role of women in the waste and recycling industry.

The prestigious 2023 National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) Women’s Leadership Conference took place in San Francisco and Napa, CA, from November 6-10, gathering industry leaders from across the waste and recycling sector. The event was a week-long celebration of empowerment, growth, and leadership excellence, marked by educational programs, professional development sessions, tours, and networking opportunities.

The conference kicked off with an evening reception at the Recology Headquarters, where attendees were introduced to the impressive artwork from the Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence Program. It set the tone for the days to follow – a blend of innovation, creativity, and collaboration.

Learning From Industry Leaders

Overlooking the San Francisco Bay from the historic landmark Ferry Building, day two began as a deep dive into the heart of the industry. First, Robert Reed, Organics Manager at Recology, gave a presentation about San Francisco’s origins in organic waste recycling and how the city has been successfully collecting food waste for over 25 years and has set a North American record for organic waste composting and recycling. Next, San Francisco District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani told her story as a councilwoman, discussing some of the recycling challenges she has overcome in her career. The second-day sessions were an opportunity for conference attendees to glean valuable insights from prominent industry professionals.

The day concluded with a reflective and informative Myers-Briggs session led by Chanel Durkee, Training and Development Manager for Recology. Chanel is a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) practitioner and Learning and Development professional with over 17 years of experience developing and managing training programs. In the session, attendees explored their various personality types, identified their strengths and weaknesses, and discovered ways to control behavior in different situations better.

Breaking Down Stigmas and Building Relationships

Day three began at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga, with a professional development session focused on breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health and encouraging open conversations about it. Trent Yaconelli, Executive Director, shared a few of his own experiences and provided practical strategies for self-care to empower others to seek support.

Lunchtime was spent with Sue Netherton, SVP of People Training and Development with Waste Connections. She centered her session around the book ‘Radical Candor’ by Kim Scott, which focuses on ways to become a great boss, build sound relationships, and create a better workplace.

The afternoon included a site visit to Upper Valley Disposal Services, a waste hauler for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) with a MRF facility. At the site, attendees learned about the company’s early roots in the 1960s when the Pestoni Family farm received its first load of wine grape pomace (stems, skins, and seeds removed from the winemaking process) for compost, a pioneering method of restoring soil and reducing emissions.

Following the site tour, the group headed to nearby Pestoni Family Estate Winery to attend a fireside chat with two industry professionals. Here, Christy Pestoni of Upper Valley Disposal and Ron Mittelstaedt, CEO of Waste Connections, discussed their careers in the waste industry, core values, and industry trends.

Sustainability in Focus

The final day of the conference highlighted the waste and recycling issues in the wine industry through a session with Anna Brittain from Napa Green. Even in the wine industry, there is a significant waste problem. From glass recycling to sustainable growing, Napa Green works with winegrowers to maximize resource efficiency. The conference’s fourth day concluded with a memorable journey on the Napa Valley Wine Train and a closing reception at Raymond Vineyards.


Hana’s attendance at the NWRA Women’s Leadership Conference was more than just participation; it was a step forward in Viably’s goal to support and elevate professionals in the waste and recycling sector. The knowledge and insights gained from the conference will undoubtedly influence Viably’s future strategies.


Ideas that are moving our industry forward

View All