Past-Presidents Caucus


The purpose of this page is to give the Past-Presidents of ASTSWMO a forum on which to share their thought and experiences with being a part of ASTSWMO and getting involved in the Board of Directors. Below are what a few of our Presidents had to say.

Bonnie Buthker

President (2016)

On October 26, 2017, my term as Past President for ASTSWMO ended. Over my last three years on the Executive Committee and my term as Federal Facilities Subcommittee Chair, the Board and Subcommittee Chairs have worked diligently on updating position papers, transitioning members into new leadership roles, and developing annual work plans in accordance with ASTSWMO’s strategic plan. As my term ended, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on all that I’ve experienced, all the wonderful memories and friendships I’ve made, and all that ASTSWMO as an organization has been able to accomplish. I’ve also been thinking about not just what ASTSWMO meant to me as a member, but also what opportunities ASTSWMO has given me over the last almost 20 years. I wanted to share these with you, in hopes that this may spur you onward to step into new leadership roles with the organization.

When I first became involved with ASTSWMO, I was a frontline supervisor working for Ohio EPA in the federal facilities oversight program. At that point in my career, I did not have many experiences in working with other States and Territories (States). Being a Focus Group member gave me that opportunity. I learned much from other States, and took some of their ideas and successes back to Ohio to implement and improve Ohio’s federal facilities program. In addition, in this role, I had the ability to discuss important environmental concerns with U.S. EPA Headquarters, Department of Defense, Air Force, Army, Navy, and U.S. Army Corps Headquarters staff. These issues were not just associated with Focus Groups projects, but also issues that Ohio was working to resolve. In addition to the professional experience, by participating in Focus Group meetings and symposiums, I made lots of new friendships, not just with staff from other States, but with personnel from U.S. EPA, DoD and the Military Services as well. My participation on Focus Groups also gave me the opportunity for ASTSWMO to recommend me as a witness for a 2008 U.S Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on state oversight of federal facilities cleanup. I believe I would have never had that experience had I not been involved with ASTSWMO.

In addition to all the professional and personal experiences that ASTSWMO provided, my various roles in ASTSWMO have also developed me professionally. My role as a Focus Group member gave me team building experience. My role as a Focus Group Chair gave me additional experience with organizing and leading meetings, completing project tasks, and even resolving conflict. My role on the Board both as Subcommittee Chair and on the Executive Committee exposed me to other program areas such as Materials Management, Hazardous Waste Management, and Underground Storage Tank Programs, which broadened my experience since most of my career was focused on Federal Facilities issues and the Superfund/Brownfield programs. In addition to learning more about other programs, while I was on the ASTSWMO Board, I also learned about strategic planning, fiscal management, and Board governance. These experiences have molded and given me the expertise and necessary skills to be promoted from a frontline supervisor, to an Assistant District Chief, and now to my current position as District Chief for Ohio EPA.

In closing, I encourage all of you that have not yet become active with ASTSWMO to seize the opportunity and volunteer for a Focus Group or Task Force. If you are currently a Focus Group or Task Force member, please consider volunteering to become Chair. If you don’t want to be member of the Subcommittee, consider throwing your hat in the ring to be a representative on the Board or running for either Vice-President or Secretary/Treasurer. While I understand being involved with ASTSWMO takes time away from your State role, the rewards both professionally and personally to both you and your staff will more than compensate you. I know I will always be grateful for all that ASTSWMO has given me over the years.

Ed Thamke

President (2012)

Several years ago, I was promoted into a management position at Montana DEQ over program areas for which I had little knowledge. Soon after, I attended a Region 8 RCRA Director’s conference and was encouraged to represent the region on the ASTSWMO Board. I volunteered for the Board Representative position, was ratified, and soon discovered a seemingly endless fountain of forums and folks to help me better understand not only the programs I administered but other areas important to the people I serve in Montana.

After ~two tours of Board duty where I enjoyed contributing at a national level and collaborating with friends and neighbors from Region 8 (ND, SD, WY, CO, UT) I joined ASTSWMO’s Executive Committee. This “peek behind the curtain” was both challenging and rewarding as I worked with peers to: fund ASTSWMO through reduced cooperative agreements; recruited and hired new ASTSWMO Executive Director (Dania); and, participated in calls and late-night meetings with Capitol Hill staff in drafting early coal combustion residual legislation. If you have somehow wandered to the Past-President’s page and stayed long enough to read my missives, I’d like to drive home the thought that there comes a point in career and life to get off the bench and onto the bus (apologies to Jeff Steers, VA). Please take action to engage and/or become more engaged with the many leadership opportunities offered through ASTSWMO.