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Keynote speaker: Kish Rajan, CEO, Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery
Adding Value Through Reuse

By embracing innovation, operational excellence, and sustainability, Concord, California-based Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery (MDRR) has differentiated itself as a leader in the environmental services industry. Going well beyond the essential garbage, recycling, and organics services the company provides, MDRR increases the value of every material stream it collects and processes. They call this philosophy Community Resource Optimization, and reuse is one of its most critical components. The power of MDRR’s reuse program is evident in the numbers. Last year alone, the company recovered reusable items from 37,000 households, rehomed 165,000+ pounds of books, and redistributed more than 2 million pounds of donatable items that would otherwise have ended up in the landfill. As our keynote speaker, MDRR’s CEO Kish Rajan will share his unique perspective on what makes the company’s reuse program so successful and why adopting a circular economy is crucial to combatting the climate crisis.

Kish Rajan is the forward-thinking, data-driven, and tech-minded CEO at Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery. Under Kish’s leadership and guided by a philosophy called Community Resource Optimization, MDRR is committed to increasing the value of every type of material the company collects and processes. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support renewable energy production, create new products from reclaimed materials, and improve the quality of the communities it serves, MDRR works tirelessly to develop and implement innovative solutions for diverting organic material and useful commodities away from landfills.

From the time he first joined MDRR in 2019 as Chief Administrative Officer, Kish has leveraged his long track record of success in the private and public sectors to help his co-workers identify and pursue new growth opportunities that benefit both business and community. He earned his J.D from Golden Gate University and put his legal skills to great use with influential roles in federal, state, and local government as well as in the mobile technology industry. He obtained his B.A from UC Berkeley in history, an experience that trained him to understand multiple perspectives and overcome complex challenges. Using his unique background in both the public and private sectors, Kish is adept at solving big problems, increasing efficiencies, and gaining consensus across disparate constituencies to get the highest impact projects done.


  Main auditorium, J120
 Hybrid track
 Side auditorium 1
 Side auditorium 2
 H195H191  H175
 Session 1
Welcome & Keynote

Emily Barker, Reuse Minnesota
Kish Rajan, Mount Diablo Resource Recovery
 -- -- -- -- --

Session 2

Reuse in creative arts

Loose Parts Laboratory, Stacey Stone & B Mead (Lex Center for Creative Reuse)
Reuse business perspectives

Melissa Seeley (Good To Go Cups), Erika Harman (Baby Gear Group), Corey Bracken (PILLLAR)

Curbside pickup of reusable and recyclable bulky items

Laura Horner (City of Bloomington), Jason Allen (Better Futures)
Reducing cost, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions by reprocessing single-use medical devices

Suzanne Savanick Hansen (Allina), Dan Vukelich (Association of Medical Device Reprocessors), Jon Schroeder (MnTAP)
Repurposing Buildings: Turn your vacant spaces into community places!

Melissa Wenzel (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)
 Session 3
Sustainable fashion panel with Nine Lives Thrift, Hawwaa Ibrahim, and RETHINK Tailoring, moderated by Rachel BreenSharing a LOT (library of things!)

Rebecca Nutter (Minneapolis Toy Library), Kate Hersey (Minnesota Tool Library), Jessie Becker (Twin Cities Library of Things)
What is a furniture bank? How can I partner with or start one in my community?

Diana Dalsin (Bridging), Keshia King (Higher Works Collaborative)
The role of policy in facilitating reusable foodware expansion

Kelley Dennings (Center for Biological Diversity)

Rachel Karasik (White House Council on Environmental Quality)

Intro to State Grants - Readiness and Grant Writing

Laura Jones (Minnesota Council of Nonprofits)

 Session 4
There is no shortage of bicycles,
bicycle repair and maintenance 

Benita and Michael Warns (Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles)
4 repairs in 45 minutes

Sonya Betker (Stantec)

Demonstration and hands-on activity
Mend it! Basic repair techniques for clothing

Jacqueline Polzin (Fix-it clinics)
Hands-on activity
Bag making with Boomerang Bags 
Hands-on activity

Trisha (Second Nature Studios)
Hands-on activity
Networking lounge & games

Sponsored by Twin Cities Library of Things
 Session 5
Right to repair updates

Corey Donovan, Jennifer Larson, Katherine Moerke
Reuse in action: Local case studies

Mac Sellars (r.Cup), Laura Hotvedt (Excelsior Rotary), Jackson Becker (Dakota Valley Recycling)

Historic preservation and the deconstruction movement: Looking to the past for a more sustainable future

Emily Noyes (Rethos: Places Reimagined)



Reuse Minnesota was founded in 2012 and is a member-based nonprofit that works on behalf of repair, resale, and rental businesses to promote the reuse economy in the state of Minnesota.

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