For almost two decades, Executive Assistant Maryann Greene has been described as the right hand of ISRI President Robin Wiener. A native New Yorker, Maryann relocated to the Washington area in 2002. Shortly afterward, she landed a job with ISRI, beginning an unforgettable 19-year career with the Voice of the Recycling Industry. In this special edition of Faces of ISRI, Maryann discusses her ISRI career, her favorite ISRI memories, and what she’ll miss most about the association.
Tell me about your background and how you became an executive assistant.
I went to a community college in New York and earned my liberal arts degree. I went on to Brooklyn College where I had planned on studying sociology and psychology. I realized that path wasn’t for me, so I left college to work for the Hertz Corp. as an assistant to the senior counsel. From there, I went on to work as the assistant to the president of the foundation of the Data & Marketing Association (formerly the Direct Marketing Association). I spent the rest of my career working for the president or CEO of associations and nonprofits. I eventually went back to school to earn my bachelor’s degree in business management from Baruch College. I kind of fell into being an executive assistant at associations and nonprofits, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you always preferred working for associations and nonprofits?
I’d say so. While I have worked for corporations, something about working for an association or nonprofit just clicked with me. I loved the comradery amongst the staff, and the leaders of the organizations have always been great. Once I got a taste of working for an association, I realized that’s where I enjoyed working the most, and that these environments were ideal for me.
How did you end up working for ISRI?
After getting married in 2002, I moved from New York and joined my husband, Elbert, in Maryland. I started looking for a job in July . After applying and interviewing with one company, I decided it wasn’t for me, so I continued searching. I saw an ad for an opening at ISRI and I sent in my resume. After several interviews with key staff and Robin, I was hired. I started working there in the middle of August and never looked back.
Over the years, what were your duties as executive assistant?
The primary duty is to support Robin and everything she needs to have done. Her duties to the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee need to be backed up by the assistant. In addition to supporting Robin, I’ve also worked closely with staff liaisons, as well as the people who plan the board and committee meetings. I’ve also had responsibilities during our annual convention and expo. Then, there’s all the little things that need to be done daily as well.
How did your relationship with Robin develop over the years?
I have great respect for Robin, her intelligence and knowledge of the industry, and her compassion for the staff. Over the years, we shared not only a business relationship, but also a personal one that developed and grew over the 19 years we worked together. I have a lot of respect for Robin as a friend and confidant and will continue to connect with her post-retirement.
What are some of your favorite ISRI memories?
There are so many. The conventions are probably at the top of the list, and I think a lot of the staff would tell you the same thing. Being at the convention and working together to make sure everything goes smoothly really makes you feel like you’re a part of the success of the convention, no matter what your position is or what you do. It’s a hectic, busy time, but the staff comes together and works together to make the convention a success. Everyone is there for each other to help or listen.
I also had the opportunity to meet so many people during the conventions whom I don’t think I would have had the chance to meet otherwise. I’ve taken photos with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, and Condoleezza Rice. Those are memories that’ll always stay with me.
Is there a convention that stands out above all the others?
A few stand out. ISRI2015 in Vancouver [British Columbia] stands out. The convention center was beautiful, and the experience that week was great. We also had a really great time at that year’s closing party. Some of the conventions we’ve had in San Diego, Las Vegas, and New Orleans have also been great.
What are you going to miss most about ISRI?
The thing I’ll miss the most is working with the ISRI staff. Working at ISRI is a lot like working with your brothers and sisters. While you may get upset once in a while with some, others will make you laugh. I know people always say their co-workers feel like a family, but ISRI did feel like a family to me.
If you could sum up your career at ISRI in one word or sentence, what would it be?
Unforgettable. I’ve been fortunate in my working career to always work for great companies and associations, and excellent bosses. I’ll never forget the ISRI staff, especially Robin. Working for her has been an inspiration for me. She’s a great boss. I’ll also miss the many ISRI members I had a chance to meet. It’s been great working with them over the last 19 years.
If you had to leave your ISRI family with one final message, what would it be?
I believe the strength of ISRI lies with the staff, and their commitment to work together for the benefits of the members and the industry. The ISRI staff is so knowledgeable in everything they do, it amazes me. The staff we currently have is phenomenal. There’s a lot of young people that are bringing new ideas to the table that’ll keep pushing ISRI forward. I’m so glad that for the past 19 years I’ve been able to be a part of the ISRI family.
What do you have planned for retirement?
Definitely some traveling here and there. I also plan on spending more time with my family and husband. I’ll get more involved in financial investing and research with my husband. I love animals, so maybe I’ll do some volunteering with them. I’m really going to enjoy not having to wake up at 3 a.m. to catch a bus [to the ISRI office].
Last but certainly not least, what’s the story behind your “Code Red” nickname?
[Laughs]. I got the nickname “Code Red” from my friends in the Communications Department because of my red hair, and because you could hear me coming down the hallway walking very fast to someone’s office! They’d always laugh and say here comes “Code Red.” The name stuck over the years, and it was always in good fun.
ISRI wishes Maryann all the best in her retirement. While we will all miss you, you’ll always be a cherished member of the ISRI family. Congratulations on a wonderful career, Maryann!
Photos courtesy of ISRI.