Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the appointment Thursday of Carolyn Wright as the Interim Director of the Solid Waste Management Division (SWMD) pending the retirement of Director Harry J. Hayes. 

Hayes is retiring after faithfully and diligently serving the City of Houston for more than three decades and leading  the SWMD for 13 years. During his tenure, he managed the department’s record-breaking debris recovery efforts in the aftermath of several major storms. 

“Harry has been a go-to person for me at City Hall and is a strong pillar with institutional knowledge. He is someone who loves this city. He has done an exceptional job, and we will miss him,” said Mayor Turner. 

Carolyn is a Houston native, a proud graduate of Phillis Wheatly High School, and continued her formal education studies with Texas Southern University and The University of Houston Downtown. Her City of Houston career began over 37 years ago, starting with the Houston Public Library. She later joined the Solid Waste Management Department in 1986 and now has more than 34 years of professional solid waste management experience. Carolyn’s work experience in the solid waste management department includes the Human Resources Division Manager, Deputy Assistant Director at the Thomas M. Buchanan Northwest Service Center, and Deputy Director of North Operations.

“I have charged Carolyn with keeping the SWMD’s operations on track and improving customer service while we conduct a national search for a permanent replacement. I know the department will be in capable hands under Carolyn’s leadership,” said Mayor Turner.

Wright is deputy director of the city’s north side collection activities, which comprises over 240,000 single and multi-family homes. 

“I am very humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve as interim director. My commitment to the City of Houston and the Solid Waste Management Department remains solid as it has been for the past 37 years. I’m here to continue to serve the citizens of Houston to the best of my ability, and I assure you that our team of talented and dedicated employees are just as committed,” said Wright.

Carolyn is active in the community and donates her time and skills toward the enrichment of neighborhood programs. She has played a vital role in every significant department challenge over the past years, including its response to Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Ike, and Harvey, the coronavirus pandemic, and city-wide anti-litter abatement projects.