NWRA Announces 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees

NWRA Announces 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees

The Hall of Fame Award Recognizes Leadership and a Commitment to the Industry

Arlington, VA – The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) announced its 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees. They are Ray Burke, Vice President, Solid Waste, Clean Energy; Paul Mitchener, Senior Vice President/Managing Director, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA); Ven Poole, Chairman and CEO, Waste Industries; John Spegal, Chief Operating Officer, Advanced Disposal; and Jim VanWeelden, retired Senior Vice President, Republic Services.

The Hall of Fame inductees were chosen by the Board of Trustees from a list of distinguished finalists submitted by the NWRA Awards Committee.

“We had many well-qualified nominees this year and that is a testament to the men and women in our industry. The NWRA Board of Trustees did not have an easy assignment. I congratulate our 2019 inductees on their achievement,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith.

These outstanding industry leaders were selected based on scores in five categories, including recognition in the industry as a founder, pioneer, visionary or icon; enduring legacy and impact of contributions to the industry for a minimum of 25 years; steadfast values such as integrity, respect, courage, mentorship, volunteerism and inclusiveness; inspirational leadership as a service provider or supplier, or on issues important to the Association; and active industry engagement and indisputable as an ambassador of the industry.

“This was a challenging task. We had so many incredible candidates to choose from; all who are dedicated to our industry and have given so much of themselves to it. These five that we selected represent the very best in our industry. I offer my sincerest congratulations on their selection to the 2019 Hall of Fame,” said Ben Harvey, chairman of the NWRA Board of Trustees.

The Hall of Fame inductees will be officially recognized at WasteExpo 2019 during the Awards Breakfast on May 7.

About the Inductees

Ray Burke

Ray is the vice president of solid waste at Clean Energy and a member of the Board of Directors of Clean Energy Renewal Fuels. Ray also co-founded the Garbageman Invitational Charity Golf Tournament. Ray has been a leader in the expansion of natural gas in the waste and recycling industry. In the 1990s, Ray installed the first natural gas fueling station in the country. Ray and his family actively support several charitable organizations in their community, notably the Alzheimer’s Foundation and the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.

Paul Mitchener

Paul is the senior vice president and managing director of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) Inc. Paul has been active and supportive of the NWRA Safety Committee and ANSI committees. For almost 40 years, he has been an innovative leader, supporting the next generation of industry leaders. Paul started in the industry in 1982 in the United Kingdom and since then has worked on projects or managed operations in more than 50 countries.

Ven Poole

Ven is the chairman and chief executive officer of Waste Industries. Ven joined Waste Industries for the first time at age 12 painting dumpsters and washing trucks. He returned to Waste Industries in 1990 as the risk management director after working in the aerospace industry as an engineer. From 2001 to 2009, he helped lead the acquisition of 150 companies, as vice president of corporate development. Ven also co-founded the Waste Industries Full Circle Project, a charitable giving effort through which Waste Industries engages in its substantial corporate philanthropy efforts.

John Spegal

John is the chief operating officer at Advanced Disposal. He is a recognized leader in the industry by his peers, personally engaging in many important industry initiatives. John currently serves on the National Waste & Recycling Association’s Board of Trustees and has been actively involved in industrywide issues that impact the Association and the entire industry. In the mid 1990s, John was instrumental in the development of a strategy for the privatization of one of the largest cities in North Carolina, which has become a model for the industry. John is also a leader in his community, founding and supporting literacy programs for solid waste drivers and volunteering with local organizations, like the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity and K9s for Warriors.

Jim VanWeelden

Jim retired this year from Republic Services as senior vice president. He is considered one of the architects of the modern waste disposal business, entering the industry at a young age, helping his father with the family disposal business. He was the original champion for being a good neighbor; it was important for landfill operators to be responsible members of the community. Jim was active in his community, too. He dedicated time to the Boys Club, coached AAU basketball teams and is actively involved in his church.


The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) represents the private sector waste and recycling services industry. Association members conduct business in all 50 states and include companies that manage waste, recycling and medical waste, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and a variety of other service providers. For more information about NWRA, please visit www.wasterecycling.org.

Brandon Wright
National Waste and Recycling Association