FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The new executive director of the Northern Environmental Action Team says she’s looking forward to the organization turning over a new leaf in 2018.
NEAT’s former program coordinator Karen Mason-Bennett officially took over as the organization’s executive director last Monday from outgoing director Dzengo Mzengeza, whose last official day is this Friday. In addition, Mason-Bennett said that Communications Coordinator Tammy Hrab and Dawson Creek Eco-Advisor Kellye Cook are also no longer with the organization. Mzengeza and Hrab had both been with NEAT for a number of years, while Cook only just started working with the organization last September.
Despite losing three positions in the past several weeks, Mason-Bennett said that NEAT’s team is excited about the challenges it is facing in the new year, especially as it moves forward from running the Peace River Regional District’s Waste Reduction Education and Outreach program. NEAT had been the PRRD’s contractor for 20 years until the Board voted in favour of bringing the program in-house in November. Mason-Bennett said that the contract to run the outreach program represented between 60 and 70 percent of the organization’s funding.
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Despite losing the source of the majority of its funding, Mason-Bennett said NEAT was fortunate to acquire the operations of the ABC Thrift Store, which it has rebranded as the NEAT Finds Thrift Store. She said that while the store won’t entirely fill the hole left by the cancellation of the PRRD contract, “it certainly is a strong supplement for sure.” She added that NEAT won’t be giving the store’s operations too much of a revamp after hearing positive reviews over the Christmas season, but that some things may be improved in the future.
Mason-Bennett explained that the organization is also exploring other opportunities and funding options in the new year. “We’re basically just trying to look at what NEAT is now that we’re not the recycling people anymore.”