After three decades of public service, Pleasanton resident and StopWaste Executive Director Wendy Sommer stepped down from her longtime leadership role this month.
Joining as an assistant planner in 1991, Sommer worked for the past five years as executive director of StopWaste, which helps Bay Area residents, businesses and schools reduce waste, recycle more, and use resources more efficiently. The agency is overseen by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, of which Sommer was the lead executive.
"Wendy is beloved and respected by StopWaste board and staff, and will be terribly missed," outgoing ACWMA board president Deborah Cox said in a statement. "But thanks to her incredible leadership, she is leaving the agency in very strong standing to serve the community."
In addition to playing a key role in developing policies and programs that established standard-setting programs for energy efficiency, resource conservation and green building, Sommer's early work in construction and demolition debris recycling was "pivotal" in the passage of a countywide ordinance, agency officials said.
StopWaste spokesperson Jeff Becerra said Sommer was "instrumental in getting a permanent conservation easement on 160 acres of land that StopWaste owns in the Tri-Valley area in the Altamont Hills."
Sommer also had a hand in supporting and developing the statewide organization Build It Green, which specializes in sustainable residential construction, along with leading the construction of StopWaste's headquarters in downtown Oakland -- the first LEED Platinum renovation project in the country. Her efforts to diversify the agency's funding resulted in doubling its operational budget and the formation of the Energy Council, a regional energy joint powers authority.
In a statement, former StopWaste board member and State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) reflected on Sommer's influence on expanding the agency's purview from solid waste to include the energy sector
"We always knew these things were connected -- water, waste, energy -- and you can’t solve one without solving the others," Skinner said."The fact that we now have a JPA dedicated to energy is significant, and Wendy was no doubt the vision behind much of this."
ACWMA deputy executive director Timothy Burroughs was selected to replace Sommer as the agency's new executive director. Burroughs assumed his new position on July 12.
"Even during his relatively short tenure as deputy director, Timothy has proven his strong ability to lead and transform, driving a new set of aims and guiding principles that center equity and community in the Agency’s mission to advance environmental sustainability," incoming ACWMA board president Shelia Young said in a statement.
"His experience, diplomacy and compassion for the communities he has served will be of great influence and impact to the agency and our jurisdictions," she added.