Clean Sweep of 2021 Driver & Operator of The Year Awards

For the first time, Republic Services employees swept all National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) Driver of the Year and Operator of the Year awards in the National Large Company category – the most awards possible in one year! Four of our employees were recognized, highlighting our exemplary safety and customer service records.

A big congratulations to the following drivers and operator on this tremendous honor:

Residential Driver of the Year: James Davis
A proud member of the Republic team in South Florida, James has been with the Company for 19 years as a residential driver. He is recognized by customers and his peers as an exceptional driver, with a flawless safety record throughout his career. He is beloved by the residents he serves, befriending his customers and assisting those in need of an extra hand with their collection bins.

Commercial Driver of the Year: Dedra McKinley
Dedra is from our Baton Rouge division, and in her seven years with the Company, she has made her mark in her community and among her colleagues. Described as the heartbeat of her team, Dedra is meticulous in providing outstanding service to customers and helping team members. She serves as a behind-the-wheel instructor, in which she trains and mentors future drivers.

Industrial Driver of the Year: Tony Forrest
Based out of Republic’s Charlotte division, Tony has been with the Company for 34 years. He began his career after completing driving school, and his son followed in his footsteps as a Republic driver. Through it all, Tony has continually been praised by customers and colleagues for his superior customer service and proactive approach in executing his daily duties.

Operator of the Year: Victoria Barragan
Victoria, from Republic’s Newby Island Resource Recovery Park in Milpitas, CA, has been with the Company for 29 years. With a commitment to sustainability, she began her career with the California Conservation Corps before joining the Republic Services team. She served in a variety of roles at the recycling facility before becoming a heavy-equipment operator. Described as a master operator, Victoria is known for putting safety and the environment first.

“At Republic Services, safety drives every decision we make, and that dedication extends to our customers and into our communities,” said Jon Vander Ark, president and CEO. “Recognition for a commitment to safety is one of the most meaningful honors any member of our industry can receive. On behalf of our 35,000 employees, I congratulate James, Dedra, Tony and Victoria for this remarkable achievement.”

These 2021 winners will continue to be celebrated locally with their BUs and Areas over the coming weeks and will be recognized by Republic leaders this fall.

We’d love to hear from you! Show the 2021 NWRA Driver and Operator winners your support!Send an email to with your congratulatory messages and photos – we’ll make sure they see them!


For more than 25 years, the NWRA Driver of the Year and Operator of the Year awards have honored drivers and operators in our industry who uphold the profession as an honorable occupation, and have conducted themselves, the vehicles and equipment they operate in the safest and most responsible manner possible.

Since 2009, our drivers have won more than 70% of NWRA’s Driver of the Year awards. This is Republic’s third consecutive Operator of the Year award, which was added in 2017. Victoria is the first woman to be recognized as NWRA Operator of the Year.