CABQ aims for greater inclusion among Solid Waste Dept. workforce

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — At the City of Albuquerque’s Solid Waste Department, women only make up 10% of its staff and the city is hoping to grow that number with new hires.

“I’m the only female commercial waste driver,” Kimberly Frances said. “I get to come here, work every day still drive a big truck and still go home.”

Kimberly has been with the department for about a year. She has three different certifications to drive three different types of trucks.

“It’s fun to move,” she said. “At first, of course, it was kind of hard and everything to get used to moving everything around but after a while you get used to it.”

Her favorite part? Being able to go home and not spend so much time on the road.

“I pretty much grew up around semi-trucks and stuff and so I always knew I wanted to be with the semis and the bigger trucks,” Kimberly said, “but I never really thought about doing commercial waste until I got with the city. Then I saw these guys and it’s like, ‘Oh, hey, that looks fun.'”

“It’s quite empowering, you know because it’s mainly male-based,” Samantha Savedra said, “so being able to keep up with the guys is pretty awesome.”

Samantha is a landfill assistant who has been with the department for only four months. However, she grew up in this line of work, thanks to her dad who’s retiring in October.

“Being able to like somewhat work with him feels awesome too because, it’s like, I grew up with him being in Solid Waste, and working with the city,” she said. “I never thought that I’d be here, but it’s pretty awesome, so he’s a good role model.”

Still, she’s hoping for more female role models too.

“It just feels empowering to be here,” Samantha said, ‘and I’m more than welcome to encourage other women to come and join.”

Working at the landfill is all about safety and interacting with the community, like making sure rules are being followed so no one gets hurt. In fact, a lot of Solid Waste is about keeping the community safe.

“I built my career on environmental protection and public health,” Danielle Berardelli said. “It’s really a behind-the-scenes, do-gooders job.”

Danielle is the superintendent of disposal, who can attest to how landfill assistants have a huge role in public safety – and the department needs a lot more of them.

“They protect the public by screening our loads for any unauthorized wastes. They also handle all traffic control, so they’re really like our frontline safety people,” Danielle said. “We need environmental professionals. All of those positions. I believe that women can fill in easily and do an excellent job.”

Even if trucks or being around the landfill isn’t something you’re interested in, there are also other opportunities. Take Alexandria Padilla, a department account executive, for example.

“I came to this department because I wanted a stable career,” Alexandria said. “When I started out with the city, I started out driving the bus and I looked to advance my career.”

From there, Alexandria moved to commercial-collecting driving.

“Just because you’re a woman, it shouldn’t hold you back,” she said. “You can do anything that a man can do. Obviously, there are obstacles and you find a way to overcome them.”

Alexandria still remembers the days of using the wind to her advantage to deal with the heavy doors. As an account representative and mother of four, she’s still getting all her work done.

“Obviously we have kids, there are a lot of single mothers out there,” she said. “We want to set good examples and I myself have raised four kids on my own – and my goal is to show them that you can put anything your mind to that you want.”

Now, at 10 years with the city, she says it’s great knowing she’s come this far – and it all started with setting a goal.

The City of Albuquerque’s Solid Waste Department is currently hiring. To view all openings, visit the CABQ website.