BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
On her letterhead, Jessie Parisano is the recently appointed regional director for Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services operations across Europe and Africa. But at heart, she is first and foremost an environmentalist.
Her concern for the natural world took hold in Haiti, where she primarily grew up and witnessed widespread destructive erosion from the illegal logging of trees for cooking charcoal.
“(Haitians) need it for subsistence,” Parisano said. “But in the meantime, with deforestation, they have caused national disasters that are irreversible.”
What she experienced there helped encourage her to take on a role as an environmental health inspector with the Army in the early 2000s and earn a bachelor’s degree in environmental management.
“Sustainability has always been an issue to me,” Parisano said. “We’ve disrupted the harmony between nature and people, and now it’s all about finding the right balance between both, while still considering cost and our personnel.”
After her military service, Parisano spent 13 years with DLA Disposition Services in the central states, serving first as an environmental specialist, then operations supervisor and finally as deputy director of Disposal Support Directorate Mid-America.
She took on her new role at region headquarters in Kaiserslautern, Germany, in October, and has a list of priorities and expected challenges she intends to tackle with her new team. Parisano said that dealing with the property and waste removal rules across many countries would be similar to the varying rules from state to state in the U.S. The bigger challenge, she said, would be in examining DLA’s current practices in each one.
“Like Haiti, there are countries where rules are not as stringent, or regulations not as mature as in more developed countries,” Parisano said. “Efficient operations require good analysis of disposal methods. Ship out of country or dispose there? Is there some waste we can safely manage in country? Are there waste streams we should do something different with? … Just because we’ve done it this way for 10 or 20 years – is that still the right way to do it now?”
Parisano said one near-term goal she has is to try and visit with employees at all 10 region offices during first year there. She also wants to examine incremental improvements like possible facility upgrades.
“I think it’s important that people feel comfortable in places they work,” she said of the need for adequate facilities. “People feel good about the work they do if they feel good about the space they’re in.”
The space Parisano is returning to just happens to be the country where she was born, and where she served and had children.
“In some ways, it will feel like a homecoming,” she said. “I spent part of my youth and a majority of my military career there. I recognize everything. Germany does feel like home.”
As Parisano settles into the role and meets more and more of her team, she’s developing shared goals for the group and wants to help her colleagues shine.
“Overall, when I look at my objectives in the region, it’s ultimately about the people,” she said. “Our people are our greatest strength. If we are challenging them, we will be amazed at what they can produce. My goal is to channel that strength and make us the best property disposal region.”