We are a group of volunteers who have come together believing that things need to change and that through collaboration, change is possible.
Board of Directors
Hien Nguyen, Co-Founder & Co-President
Hien’s “zero waste” journey has its roots in her childhood when her parents would impart lessons on the morality of food waste as visions of starving children flashed across their television screen; meanwhile, her family’s backyard garden spoke of nature’s bounty and inspired in her an abiding respect for nature’s cycles.
After graduating from Georgetown University, she worked on the Smithsonian’s “Science in American Life” exhibition and “The Garbage Dilemma” interactive video and learned that landfills, usually sited in low-income and minority communities, not only release methane into the air and leach toxins into groundwater but preserve things––like newspaper and slices of cake––that would otherwise decompose in nature; this experience awoke her to the social injustices and environmental problems that persist due to our throwaway culture.
A 2016 alumna of the Lexington Citizens Academy, Hien has volunteered with LPS Green Teams, helping to introduce composting, recycling and zero waste events to her daughter’s elementary school and other community organizations. She has worked with nonprofits, community organizations, educational institutions, and media and e-commerce start-ups.
An artist, writer, designer, maker and inveterate collaborator, Hien enjoys bringing people together and aims for the greatest good for the greatest number. Co-founding a nonprofit zero waste collaborative feels to her like a natural and necessary step towards the right side of human history.
Through her work with LexZeroWaste, Hien hopes to inspire behavioral and cultural shifts toward creative resource reuse and conservation, and to spark practical redesigns of systems in which we all work together to advocate for and to actualize a more just, sustainable and livable future for all.
Renee Steinbrecher, Co-Founder & Co-President
Renee attributes her deep connection to the natural world from having spent so much of her childhood outdoors. She recalls the sadness she felt when she first learned about the concept of pollution. She had heard on the news that one of the beaches in the area was closed due to unsafe water quality, which was caused by dumping in the ocean. Her initial reaction was denial, “No, that can’t be true. Why would anyone do that?” This experience opened her eyes to the fact that a pristine environment is not a given and that there is much work that needs to be done if we want to have a cleaner, better future. Renee went on to become a member of various environmental groups.
Shortly after receiving her BA in International Language Business, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study Environmental Business in Germany. During this formative year, she learned that environmental protection is like a puzzle, with each piece interconnected; from government policies, to environmental programs, to the “greening” of businesses, to the packaging, marketing, and distribution of environmentally friendly products, down to the actions of each individual. It was also during this time that she was introduced to zero-waste stores. She has been fascinated by this concept ever since. Professionally, she has been working for over 20 years for a software company in various roles as a technical writer, editor, and project manager.
In co-founding Lex ZeroWaste, she is hopeful that together our efforts will not only have a positive effect on our waste stream, but will also teach our children that things can be done differently, impacting and inspiring generations to come.
Janet Kern, Treasurer
A lifelong environmentalist and organic gardener, Janet co-founded Lexington Community Farm Coalition (LexFarm) and led the community effort to keep Lexington’s Busa Farm in agricultural use upon its sale to the town in 2009. She acted as Executive Director for LexFarm during its first year of operation in 2014 and is thrilled that it continues to grow and has become a vital resource in––and thanks to––the surrounding community. Janet and her husband Frank live in and steward an 18th century farmhouse that offers constant reminders of simpler, less wasteful times. It has also offered numerous opportunities to restore, re-use and re-purpose as they renovate their home for the 21st century. Through her involvement with Lexington Zero Waste Collaborative, Janet hopes to continue to learn, share, create and encourage community-wide conservation activism and ecological practices for a cleaner world.
Mark Manasas, Clerk
Mark remembers a eureka moment in high school in the 80s thinking, “Where is all this trash going to go?” An engineer by training, he has led multinational teams developing first-in-class medical devices and surgical procedures. He struggles every day to do the right thing when buying food, clothing, and all kinds of consumables and finds it sad and ironic that organic produce often is more heavily packaged than regular produce. He hopes that as part of the Lexington Zero Waste organization, he can help make the right choice obvious and easy for himself and others. Ultimately, he wants to leave the world a better place for his kids and the next seven generations. Mark also serves on the board of LexFarm.