When Jacqueline Lotkzar, vice president of Pacific Metals Recycling, first started in the recycled materials industry she received advice from Mark Lewon, one of her mentors, that she carries with her. “He told me to keep raising my hand,” she recalls. “Keep raising your hand and people will notice you and they’ll start asking you to get more involved.”

Raising her hand allowed her to take on a variety of volunteer leadership roles and responsibilities at ISRI first at the chapter and then national level. ISRI recognized Lotzkar’s commitment to the industry and association last year by awarding her the 2022 ISRI Young Executive of the Year award.

The annual Young Executive of the Year award speaks to the totality of an individual. Not only is the person a great employee and/or executive of their company, but they’re also a great person, active in their community, and able to strike the ideal work-life balance.

“A good candidate is someone who is putting in the time and effort to give back to the industry,” says Sean Daoud, vice president at PNW Metal Recycling, Inc., and co-chair of ISRI’s Young Executives Council (YEC). “That could mean volunteering for ISRI at the national or chapter level, running their businesses well, or getting involved in the local communities. We’re trying to find nominees who are working on these efforts under the radar and bring their achievements to the surface.”

Sam Shine, director of sales at Utility Recyclers International and co-chair of YEC, agrees. “Jacqueline really exemplified all the traits we look for in an applicant. She’s incredibly involved at ISRI and is passionate about the recycled materials industry.”

For young leaders looking to follow that example and make a strong impact in the industry, Daoud recommends getting started at the local or chapter level. “It’s one of the most effective places for us as leaders to make the necessary changes that need to happen in our industry,” he explains. “State advocacy is where ISRI shines.”

Volunteering at the chapter or region will help members develop and cultivate their skills to be effective leaders within their own companies and for ISRI.

“I think the local level is an ideal space to learn how to get work done for the industry,” Daoud says. “You’re more effective as a leader when you can focus on the local level. And when you get the opportunity to take on leadership roles at ISRI national you already have the foundational experiences and knowledge.”

For new industry faces seeking a community where they can grow and develop leadership skills, Shine recommends joining the Young Executive Council. “YEC seeks to create a forum for your professionals to connect and engage through ISRI activities that foster personal and professional growth in the recycled materials industry,” he says. He also suggests looking into the Best Young and Brightest (BYAB) event—an annual event open to ISRI members aged 40 and younger that features two days of education, networking, and team building.

With all these opportunities at young leaders’ fingertips, Lotzkar reiterates the importance of staying involved and raising your hand. “People will see that you want to engage and ask you to take on new responsibilities,” she says. “It’s a really natural evolution.”

“Our industry needs strong individuals to carry the next generation, and this award honors those industry professionals, Daoud says. “If you know someone that is a good example of what a YE should be in this industry, please nominate them for this award so they can get their recognition,” Daoud says.

If you know a worthy individual for the YE of the Year award, nominate them here. More information on the award process can be found here, and a tip sheet can be found here. If you have any questions about the process, please contact Lacey Capps. The deadline for entries is midnight EST on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.

The recipient may also be recognized in additional outlets via print, web, and social media. The recipient will receive complimentary registrations to all ISRI national events (virtual and/or in-person) of their choosing during the 2023 calendar year, where fees are required, as well as complimentary full registration to ISRI2024 Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas.

Lead Photo and First Body Photo Courtesy of ISRI. Second Body Photo by Sam Arnold with Pacific Recycling.

Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah is a Writer & Editor for ISRI's Scrap News. She's interested in a wide range of topics in the recycling industry and is always eager to learn more. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in History and a minored in Creative Writing. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband.