July 25, 2022

Special Report by Jordan Vitick

Lynsie Almeida

Senior Global Quality Engineer, 
Teknor Apex Co.

Lynsie Almeida graduated from Rhode Island College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a biology minor and started her career in pharmaceuticals. 

She worked at AstraZeneca as a medicinal/organic chemist in oncology drug design for eight years, spent three years on the instrumentation side working as an LC/MS global service and support engineer, then was a lab manager and senior chemist in a medical marijuana testing lab. She joined Teknor Apex Co. and worked for three years as a senior analytical chemist deformulating plastics in the lab before becoming a senior global quality engineer two years ago.

Under her current title at the materials firm, Almeida is responsible for quality systems, such as monitoring product quality performance; quality policies, including implementation of ISO and other recognized standards; auditing, such as conducting internal audit investigations; and training employees on quality and statistical concepts.

“My interest in plastics was actually sparked by an episode of How It's Made, which detailed the process for turning plastic pellets into finished goods. I found the manufacturing process rather mesmerizing and fascinating in all of its intricacies,” she said. “While I enjoyed the episode, it had me wondering, ‘Well, where did the pellets come from and what's in them?’”

Prior to her career in chemistry, Almeida was a singer and was accepted to study at the Berklee College of Music.

“Chemistry isn't about just working in a lab,” she said. “There are so many applications and parallel fields where chemistry can be applied. I have demonstrated this by having had five different careers all with the same degree.”

Kiana Anderson

Sales and Market Development Representative, Teknor Color Co.

Kiana Anderson’s interest in the plastics industry started around 7 years old, when her father was working toward his master’s degree in plastics engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

“On Saturdays he would lock himself in the basement to work on his reports. Naturally, I was curious and wanted to hang out with my dad, so I would join him in the basement while he studied. He generously let me scribble on his notes while he was studying and even let me help type his final thesis, one letter at a time and very slowly,” she said. “I'm not sure where he found the patience.”

When he would come home from work, post-master’s degree, Anderson’s father would be excited about a project he was working on.

“Other days he would bring home samples for me and my brothers to learn about. I often asked questions and thought, ‘Hey, this is pretty neat,’” she said.

Anderson studied applied mathematics and finance at the University of Rhode Island, and she is working on her MBA with a concentration in leadership at Bentley University.

She started as a cost accountant at Teknor Apex Co., and her career highlight so far has been transitioning from cost accounting to sales. As a sales and market development representative for Teknor Color Co., Anderson manages customer relationships, works in close cooperation with cross-functional departments, develops new business from product development to commercialization and conducts market research.

“I have been in my current role for nine months now, and I have enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “Despite joining the commercial team during a period of supply uncertainty, I look forward to waking up every morning and partnering with customers and my colleagues to source material, finding solutions for their supply or manufacturing needs and learning more about plastics and customers’ applications.”

Olivia Deaton

Product Manager, Consumer Products Division, Teknor Apex Co.

At age 26, Olivia Deaton became the first female production manager for Teknor Apex Co. Five years later, 26 weeks pregnant with her second child, she was promoted to a larger division of around 300 people.

“I navigated the pandemic, with two small children, as a production manager of a garden hose manufacturing plant. This challenged every part of who I was,” she said. “I was constantly juggling if I was doing the right thing for my family, my employees and for myself.”

In June 2021, she became the product manager for the Consumer Products division of the materials firm.

“Product management has opened my eyes to the other side of business. It is helping me become a more well-rounded woman in industry,” she said.

Deaton is responsible for the life cycle of all new and existing products for the division, including developments, improvements, enhancements and commercialization. 
“Essentially, I am here to ensure that our customer pain points are addressed and we remain relevant in the marketplace,” she said.

Deaton earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, with minors in biological science and mathematics, from the University of Rhode Island. She is pursuing her MBA.

Her first plastics industry position was a process engineer in the nylon plant at Teknor Apex. She was interested in the industry because of the career opportunities. “Plastics are everywhere,” she said.

“My greatest achievement is attempting to change how [the] industry views young, working female mothers. I have not let a single opinion stop me from getting where I want to be, which is in the room where the decisions are made,” she said. “I feel I have proven, to most, that I can get the job done.”

Casey Gunning

Senior Manager of Internal Communications, Teknor Apex Co.

Teknor Apex Co. is Casey Gunning’s first step in the plastics industry. While she has previously worked in manufacturing, she was not specifically involved with plastics.

“The Teknor Apex team and culture is what first captured my interest. My interest in the industry grows every day as I learn more about the products, customers and potential TA and the industry has now and in the future,” said the senior manager of internal communications at the materials firm.

The responsibilities that fall under Gunning’s title include employee communications, communications strategies, engagement programs and strategic advising to the senior leadership team. 

Gunning earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Florida Southern College. She previously worked for GlobalFoundries Inc. and was a project manager for development and strategic implementation of a global platform that launched in October 2020. She was a two-time recipient of the CEO Award for COVID-19 task force leadership and a brand launch.

“My greatest achievement professionally was launching and successfully implementing SocialChorus/FirstUp at GlobalFoundries. In doing so, I was able to develop a strong culture of wholistic communication globally that not only had 90-plus percent registration/engagement but also decentralized communications by pulling in almost 150 content contributors, creating a robust and representative live news feed for all employees,” she said.

In her personal life, her greatest accomplishment is her daughter.

“She’s the best parts of me and also the best mirror I have,” Gunning said. “She keeps me focused on what matters most and always reminds me to have fun, laugh and truly enjoy life.”

Sarah Taranto

Regulatory Affairs Manager, Teknor Apex Co.

Sarah Taranto has always loved medical devices. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and spent her early career in the medical devices field. She found the different technologies “interesting and the ability to help people is something important to me.”

Prior to Teknor Apex Co., she worked for a medical device manufacturer and a chemical distributor. 

“It was a natural fit when I joined Teknor, using my previous experience and learning more about the plastics industry. What I’ve loved so much about my role in this industry is that we touch many different applications across the world,” said the regulatory affairs manager for the materials firm headquartered in Pawtucket, R.I. “Everyone is using plastic, whether medical, pharma, automotive, electrical, etc. I like the diversity this industry brings and the ability to learn about different products that reach people globally.”


Taranto ensures company compliance with various regulations, develops compliance systems, provides regulatory advice to internal parties and monitors changing regulations that impact the business. One career highlight includes improving on-time performance of the team from 75 percent to above 95 percent through training and system enhancements.

While raising her first son and working full time, Taranto earned her master’s degree in regulatory affairs from Northeastern University. She also has completed the first year of her MBA program while raising two sons, working full time and living through a pandemic. As well, she attended and completed a 10-week certificate course in “Leading the Sustainability Transformation” from the University of Victoria while starting her first MBA course.

“Generally, moms often take a break in their careers to raise their children when they are young and then resume career building later,” Taranto said. “I want to change this perspective and show people that with some hard work and dedication, I can expand my education, become a successful company contributor that others can look up to, including my children, while raising a family.”

Mim Winter

Sales Representative, Vinyl Division,

Teknor Apex Co.

Before making the switch to the plastics industry, Mim Winter received master’s degrees in international relations and Spanish at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and in acupuncture and oriental medicine from the New England School of Acupuncture in Massachusetts. She also independently started and ran a busy acupuncture clinic.

Winter also worked in talent acquisition and recruiting roles before joining Teknor Apex Co. in Pawtucket, R.I. She joined the custom compounder to work with the human resources team and transitioned to the commercial side after two years, describing the move as “thrilling, daunting, fascinating, petrifying, liberating and overall awesome.”

“The learning curve was very steep, but I was hungry to learn and it was a turning point for my career that even years in the future I will forever consider it a highlight in my life,” she said.

Now a sales representative in the vinyl division, Winter manages business with customers across New England and a portion of Upstate New York.

“I’m a liaison between our internal operations and our external customers. A large percentage of my customers are wire and cable manufacturers, and I work on day-to-day interactions with customers on a range of topics from compound recommendations, long-term projects, regulatory questions, quality and processing discussions, etc.,” she said.

Winter also received her 200-hour yoga teacher certification and regularly taught classes in Providence, R.I., while working her corporate career. She even introduced yoga classes to the Teknor Apex headquarters and taught classes to employees. 

“Teknor stoked my self-confidence to break the mold as a woman in our industry and to break the mold to change the entire trajectory of my career,” Winter said. “The company, management and employees gave me more support than I ever could have imagined.”


Reprinted with permission from Plastics News. © 2022 Crain Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
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