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The Annual Waste Management Conference and Exhibit is the highlight of The Forum’s regularly scheduled events. 
A Planning Committee is hard at work developing a timely and informative program and an impressive roster of speakers.  A program announcement and registration flier will be e-mailed to those on the Forum’s mailing list.
If you wish to be on the Conference mailing list, please message us through our Contact Us page. 



Conference Schedule ~Registration & Coffee --- 8:00-8:30

8:30-9:00 ~ Keynote Speaker  ~  Gary Clifford, Executive Vice President, Athens Services

9:00-10:50  Session 1:  Looking at the Path Ahead

Moderator - Olivia Sanchez

Chris Sheppard, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works: Where does it all go? 
Los Angeles County Disposal and Capacity Data


Andy Cortez, Assistant Chief Engineer, Riverside County Waste Resources, Riverside County Revealed: Unpacking Our Local Landfill Data

10-minute BREAK

Doug Kobold, Executive Director, California Product Stewardship Council, Product Stewardship in California: Statewide Programs & Progress

Colleen Foster, HF&H Consultants, LLC, SB 54 and Potential Impacts to Local Public Agencies

10-minute BREAK

11:00-12:15 Session 2: Boots on the Ground

Moderator - Melissa Morgan

Natalie Lessa, Co-Founder, ReCREATE, Effectiveness of Cart Tagging vs. Door-to-Door Outreach in Reducing Curbside Contamination in San Bernardino County

Angela Williams, Environmental Programs Manager, City of Inglewood, SB1383, the Lessons We Thought We Learned

Gina Whisenant, Waste and Recycling Manager, USC, Implementing the Integrated Waste Management Plan the Trojan Way

12:15-1:15 Lunch

Networking Only (Vendor participation)

1-hour LUNCH

Vendor Outreach = 1-minute opportunity @ the Lectern

1:15-3:15 Session 3: Complex Problems --- Two Steps Forward and 1 Step Back!

Moderator - Nick Morell


Jennifer King, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works: Presentation on the Food Donation, Recovery and Outreach Program (Food DROP)

Tom Fang, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, Solid Waste Department (Energy Recovery Section), Food Waste Recycling Program, Benefits and Challenges

Joe Ayala, Econward, COO, Overcoming Challenges of Separating Organic Waste from MSW

Matt Cotton, Integrated Waste Management Consulting, The Importance of Organics Collection,
Making Compost, and Improving CA Soils


Wrap-Up, Feedback & Raffle



Angela Williams began her career with the City of Inglewood in 1984.  She has held many keys positions including, Customer Service Representative (Finance Dept), Administrative Assistant (Administration & City Council Office) and Administrative Analyst (Office of Economic & Business Development).

Currently, Ms Williams serves as the Environmental Services Manager in the Public Works Department.  She is responsible for monitoring the Solid Waste Agreement between the City’s franchise waste hauler and overseeing vital programs as it relates to environmental compliance.

Her long tenure with the City has afforded her the unique opportunity to foster valued-added relationships with the community by providing public information and resources to enhance compliance to local, State and Federal mandates as required. Her passion and dedication to public service is responsible in part for many of the city’s special events and inventive programs.

Ms. Williams is in fluent in Spanish and certified in American Sign Language.


Natalie Lessa is the Co-Founder of ReCREATE and the firm's education and outreach team specialist. She has spent the past 12 years as a waste consultant specializing in policy planning and implementation across the nation with municipal, private and nonprofit clients. She uses her background in public relations and passion for behavior change to develop new outreach strategies for recovering food from landfill and reducing plastic waste consumption.


Matt Cotton has over 30 years in the organics recycling industry.  He has permitted and helped develop some of the major composting facilities in California and works with public and private composters on a daily basis to meet the challenges of SB 1383.  He has worked on statewide policy, legislation, and regulation related to composting for decades.  Completed four statewide studies of organics processing infrastructure for CalRecycle, including the recent SB 1383 Infrastructure and Marketing Analysis Report and Co-Authored a Chapter in the Composting Handbook (Published 2022).  Has published research on compost odors, compost use, climate impacts, compostable plastics, and compost infrastructure; Almost two decades on the Board of Directors of the US Composting Council, including three terms as President.  Lead instructor for USCC’s 40-Hour Compost Operator Training Course; Board Member of Californians Against Waste; Recently completed a project measuring VOC emissions from composting, looking at ways to lower costs of testing and linking compost management practices to reduced VOC emissions.


Joe Ayala has nearly 30 years of experience commercializing new technologies. He leads the ECONWARD TECH, LLC business in North America and believes anaerobic digestion is one of the pivotal solutions to address the climate change crisis. Joe holds master’s degrees in chemical engineering, business administration and international business. Joe loves Brazilian jiu jitsu and hiking long hours with his wife and two kids; recently they completed a 75-mile hike to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, completing the journey in just 5 days.

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Tom Fang is a Supervising Engineer with the LA County Sanitation Districts where he is currently developing food waste recycling, RNG, solar, and other renewable energy projects.  He's been with the Districts for 20 years serving in areas such as biosolids management and air regulatory compliance.  Prior to the Districts, Tom worked in private industry for 11 years focusing on utility NOx control.  He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

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Jennifer King is a program manager with Los Angeles County Public Works, managing several County's sustainability programs, such as Smart Business Recycling Program and the Food Donation and Recovery Outreach Program.  She has also been providing outreach to Multi-Family Residents and Schools in County unincorporated communities to promote zero-waste environment.  She has been heavily involved in SB 1383 edible food recovery capacity assessment and planning for Los Angeles County and provided educational outreach to large edible food generating businesses and local food recovery agencies regarding SB 1383's food recovery requirements.  Jennifer has a master’s degree in environmental science and is happy to be able to relate her educational background with her interests at work.

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Andy Cortez is the Assistant Chief Engineer at Riverside County Department of Waste Resources, overseeing Engineering, Operations, Environmental, Planning, Recycling, Waste Inspection, Illegal Dumping, Graffiti, and Household Hazardous Waste Collection. He holds a degree in Environmental Engineering from UC Riverside and a Master's in Public Administration from Cal Baptist University. Andy is licensed as a Civil Engineer and has been in the waste industry since his graduation. He is a father to twin six-year-olds and enjoys an occasional round of golf. This conference marks his first SWANA speaking event.

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