Recycle Utah’s longtime executive director announces retirement
Insa Riepen will step down April 1
For nearly two decades, Insa Riepen has helped transform Recycle Utah into one of the communities leading sustainable partners.
Each month, the nonprofit organization prevents 200 tons of materials from being sent to the Summit County’s landfill, according to a press release. Recycle Utah also regularly provides hazardous waste collection options and reaches more than 3,000 students in Summit and Wasatch County through its environmental education programs.
“We have grown from a parking lot with a maximum of 30 cars per day to now, where we have almost 400,” Riepen said. “It used to be whenever a car came around I would shout: Look there’s a car!”
On Thursday, Riepen, 66 years old, formally announced that she would be retiring as executive director of the organization after 17 years. Her last day will be April 1.
“I think it is time. It is simply time to make room for someone younger and brighter and more energetic than I,” Riepen said. “We are at capacity with everything that we do here and, I am of the opinion, you have to do or die. I can’t do anymore.
“We have shown in Summit County how effective we can be. The work we are doing is on less than half an acre,” she said. “Maybe my resignation will help to spur us a little faster into this need to do more and do better.”
Riepen said the recycling center outgrew its current location at 1951 Woodbine Way “probably 15 years ago.”
“If there is one thing that is sort of sad is the fact that I was not able to move the center to a new location,” Riepen said. “We will have to move out of here sooner rather than later and now it is more evident than ever, now that the city has purchased the land next to us.”
But, Riepen said she likely would not have stayed with the organization even if a new location had been secured.
“I am a firm believer in making room for younger, brighter minds and once you make a decision you need to follow through with it,” Riepen said.
Riepen joined Recycle Utah in 1999 after she moved to Park City with her family from Michigan. In the past, she operated her own business in Germany and spent 13 years in the automotive industry. In Michigan, she developed education and outreach programs for a municipal waste authority, a press release stated.
“When I initially got here I was also looking for a place to recycle my moving boxes and I had to find the recycling center,” Riepen said. “I asked if they were doing any education because I was new in town and didn’t know what I was doing. I offered to help as a volunteer and within a very short period I took over.”
Riepen highlighted the work she has done over the years with the three school districts in the county, commending the “teachers, advisors and the counselors that gave me time and now give us time in their lessons.” She also discussed the center’s progress in educating the community about hazardous and pharmaceutical waste.
While Riepen said she is not yet ready to retire completely, she will begin looking for a new cause to champion. One that, she said with a laugh, “hopefully doesn’t include garbage.” However, Riepen said she hopes the community continues to challenge itself to do better.
“We have been the locomotive in the state of Utah. We are not very good about being the caboose and I really want to challenge people to take responsibility for their actions,” Riepen said. “We have one planet and we don’t have a Plan B. We need to shape up and fly right and we can do it. I know we can.”
Bruce Erickson, Recycle Utah’s advisory board chair, said the organization has been driven by Riepen’s knowledge and motivation. He added, “A great deal of our commitment is because of her.”
“We are very proud of Insa (Riepen) and proud that she has given us the chance to move the organization and we look forward to our new leader,” Erickson said. “It is also time for those of us on the board to really make sure the future of the organization is sustained and capable of performing. We have known for a number of years that some portion would have to move from its current location and that will be very important mission going forward.”
Since coming to Park City, Riepen has served as a board member of the Utah Nonprofit Association, the Uinta Headwaters RC&D Council and Friends of the Farm, according to a press release. She is currently a member of the Park City Rotary Club and former chair of their grants committee. In 2012, the Park City Leadership Program recognized Riepen with the Community Leadership award. The Park City Women’s Business Network also named her Woman of the Year, the release stated.
Recycle Utah is currently accepting applications for a new executive director. A job description is available on the organization’s website at http://www.recycleutah.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017-Job-Description-Executive-Director.pdf. Resumes and cover letters can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Summit County officials declared their potential conflicts of interest, with Councilors Doug Clyde and Chris Robinson offering the most extensive lists on the County Council.