Spotlight employee of the Month: Dawn Ratcliffe

If there had been a Global Institute of Sustainability, or a similar program, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte when Dawn Ratcliffe was a student in the mid-’90s, life would have been different for her.

Ratcliffe would not have majored in English and communications. She would have gone straight to her first loves, the environment and human and animal rights, without taking the slightest detour. So why didn’t Ratcliffe, who is now ASU’s Tempe campus recycling coordinator, simply change schools? “I really liked that college,” she said.

After she graduated from UNC Charlotte, Ratcliffe had a variety of work and volunteer experiences, ranging from planting and harvesting organic vegetables to manning a spay-neuter hotline.

So how did Ratcliffe get from North Carolina to the Southwest? She came to Arizona in 2006 to serve as campaign manager for Arizonans for Humane Farms (Prop 204), which was on the 2006 ballot. After the election she worked briefly at the ASU Office of Sustainability Initiatives, helping create databases of foundations that fund environmental and community development projects. There were no jobs at ASU, so I moved back to North Carolina.”

Not too long after she returned east, Kerry Suson, ASU’s former manager of recycling, took a job as program manager for ASU Surplus Property. Because of this move, Ratcliffe’s dream was realized, and she started work at ASU March 31.

Her biggest challenge in the last few months has been “trying to get multiple facets of the newly expanded recycling program up and running simultaneously.” Though the pace is slow, Ratcliffe is optimistic that one day ASU will have zero waste.

Ratcliffe learned recycling as a child collecting cans. “I produce very little waste,” she said. “The main problem is that a lot of companies use material that should not have been used in the first place, like Styrofoam.”

Dawn Ratcliffe
Program Coordinator, Grounds Dept, Recycling