Friday, June 8, 2007


Sociologists say most people have a fear of public speaking. Not so for former Inland Empire resident Leonard Robinson.
Two years ago Robinson was called to Sacramento, tapped by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the state’s Chief Deputy Director for the Department of Toxic Substances Control. His responsibilities are vast. And extremely important. He oversees the Office of Legal Affairs; the Hazardous Waste Management and Statewide Compliance Program; the Site Mitigation and Brownfields Reuse Program; External Affairs; Legislative Affairs; and the Science, Pollution Prevention and Technology Program.
Additionally, Robinson spearheads the California Take It Back! Partnership, a consortium of state and local governments, retail stores, nonprofit agencies and utility companies to provide free, local recycle centers.
A busy man trying to keep us all healthy and the state “green,” following the mandate of Gov. Schwarzenegger, who Robinson says, “is California’s first “green” governor. He really does care about preservation, pollution and the population.”
Naturally, being a major figure in state government, Robinson is often called upon as a prime meeting speaker, a convention keynoter and conference leader.
“I love it,” he says, “speaking before the public. I’m not one of those people who stands before a group and reads their speech. They might as well copy it and hand it out. I like to interact with people, see what their interests are along the topic line, and find what they care about. Then address those concerns within the subject I’m there for. I’ll have my notes, though, to stay on target and not forget something obvious – like my name.”
This former KTIE AM radio talk show has developed an ease at presenting his ideas and opinions to people, whether in a casual cocktail hour setting, a dinner meeting or addressing hundreds or thousands at a more formal presentation. As long as you’re confident in your knowledge, Robinson believes, the task isn’t a worry. There are no “butterflies.”
In his various capacities as an environmental leader, Robinson has been a featured speaker before such groups as the California Waste Association, the Environmental Industry Summit, the Air and Waste Management Association, Law Seminars International, and the Product Stewardship Council.
He recently appeared on KCAA-1050 AM’s evening talk show “Empire Talks Back” with Wallace Allen, publisher of Westside Story. “We explored a little known waste danger,” he says, “about fluorescent lights -- those curly compact lights you screw into lamps as well as the more familiar tubes. The problem is, they contain Mercury, a known toxic substance. We all used to just toss them into the trash when they needed replacing. We can’t do that any more; in fact, California prohibits that. So, what do you do beside drive 20 miles to a hazardous waste site with your light tube?”
Robinson was the featured luncheon keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Orange County Business Conference at the Ford Company held recently in Irvine.
Robinson’s future speaking dates include:
• Guest speaker for the Household Hazardous Waste Information Exchange at the Goldy Lewis Community Center in Rancho Cucamonga, June 27.
• Aug. 16 as a guest speaker for the Statewide Black Chamber of Commerce Annual Convention at San Francisco’s Holiday Inn Plaza.
• Panelist, League of California Cities Annual Conference Sept.6 at the Sacramento Convention Center.
• Keynote speaker at the SCADA Convention Sept. 14 at the Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco.
• Panel moderator Oct, 8 for the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association’s annual conference at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego.
Robinson does these speaking engagements all the while continuing to manage the state’s department of Toxic Substance Control.
“I love it all,” he says. “The busier, the better.” And he is working to keep us and our future generations healthy and safe – a noble calling for an equally noble man.