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SWANA announces three 2022 Professional Achievement Award winners

Three members are recognized with the Robert L. Lawrence Distinguished Service Award, Professional Achievement Award and the Life Member Award.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, has selected the recipients of its annual Professional Achievement Awards.   

“SWANA professional achievement awards are one of the highest honors someone in the solid waste industry can receive,” says David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO. “I have worked closely with several of this year’s awardees and can personally confirm they are among the best of the best in this great industry.”  

Not necessarily awarded each year, SWANA says the Robert L. Lawrence Distinguished Service Award is the highest accolade SWANA members can give to an individual. The award is intended for a SWANA member or nonmember who, by a career of unusually meritorious service to the municipal solid waste management field, has earned consideration. Determination of the award is based on the nominee’s service and activity beyond normal responsibilities to the employer and to the public.  

Kathy Morris, executive director of Waste Commission of Scott County, Iowa, received the honor this year. 

For more than 30 years as the executive director of the Waste Commission of Scott County, Morris has demonstrated a "contagious passion" for advancing solid waste management services across Iowa, SWANA says. Under Miller’s leadership, the Waste Commission of Scott County has been at the forefront of implementing new services and technologies and supporting other public entities in Iowa and the region in doing the same.  

After a short time on the Iowa chapter board, she continued to mentor chapter board mentors to volunteer for committee work, support and drive legislative and regulatory initiatives and to volunteer the commission, its employees and resources whenever necessary.  

The Professional Achievement Award recognizes SWANA members for valuable and distinguished contributions to the association, the individual’s employing organization, chapter, technical division or the public. Unique achievements and outstanding services by the individual, potentially but not always tied to career longevity, are considered in the selection.  

James R. Miller, founder and CEO of J.R. Miller & Associates, Brea, California, received the award this year.   

Miller has more than 45 years of experience with a focus on the planning and design of solid waste processing facilities. He has been a SWANA member since 2003 and a member of the Collection and Transfer Technical Division, where he has served in leadership positions and currently chairs the Legislative/Advocacy Committee. He has been a guest lecturer at several California colleges and universities, presented at numerous SWANA and industry conferences and written articles for various industry publications.   

Consideration for the SWANA Life Member Award includes an individual's length of service and commitment to the association, service and support to chapters or technical divisions, superior commitment and service to their employer. It also considers long-term involvement in municipal solid waste management in general and the significance of contributions to the association and the industry.  

Murray Griffin, former president/CEO, Atlantic Coast Consulting Inc., Savannah, Georgia, was honored this year with the SWANA Life Member Award.  

Griffin was recognized for service and commitment to SWANA and the Georgia chapter, where he served on the chapter board of directors for more than 20 years. There Griffin supported participation in conferences, Road-E-Os, scholarship and award programs and advocacy efforts. He also served as a chapter training instructor.   

Professional achievement award nominations are reviewed by the International Awards Committee, which presents recommendations to the board of directors for approval.  

“It is with great pleasure we selected this year's recipients for the annual Professional Achievement Awards,” says Michael Brinchek, senior project manager at Smith Gardner Inc. and SWANA Awards Committee Chair. “This year's recipients, as in years past, represent the best of our industry in and out of the SWANA organization and exemplify what it means to be a Solid Waste professional.”  

All 2022 awards will be presented on Dec. 6 during SWANA’s annual awards ceremony in conjunction with Wastecon 2022 in San Diego.