The American Zinc Recycling leadership team consists of industry veterans and seasoned professionals who are helping us create and maintain a sustainable future. Learn more about each of them here.

Joel Hawthorne

President & Chief Executive Officer

Joel joined AZR as President & CEO in 2020. He has over 30 year of experience in the steel, carbon, and graphite industries. He came to AZR from Specialty Steel Works Incorporated where he served as the CEO.  Previously, Joel was the CEO of Graftech International, a producer of carbon and material science products. He also served in various leadership and financial roles at ACME Metals Incorporated and LTV Corporation which are both now known as Arcelor Mittal. Mr. Hawthorne is the Chairman and Board Member of the nonprofit organization CE National.


  • Bachelor of Science, Accounting, The University of Akron
  • Master of Science, Technical Education, The University of Akron

Stephen Bishop

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Stephen Bishop joined the AZR team in 2019. With 25 years of management and financial experience, he most recently served as President and CFO of Arsenal Resources. He was also an investment banker for 11 years with DLJ, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank. He served 7 years as an officer in the US Navy.


  • Bachelor of Science, US Naval Academy
  • Master of Business Administration, UCLA Anderson School

Michael J. Griffin

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Michael J. Griffin joined AZR in January 2017 and adds 33 years of experience in the metals industry to the leadership team. Before AZR, he was the Aluminum President at Noranda; VP, COO, and CEO of Ormet Aluminum; and held various roles at Alcoa and Reynolds Metals, including Plant Manager and other operations, technical, and maintenance roles in the US and Canada.


  • Bachelor of Science, Electrical and Power Engineering, Clarkson University

William P. Breedlove

Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer

Bill joined AZR as Senior Vice President and CCO in 2020.  He has over 35 years of industry experience in metals and minerals.  Bill joined AZR after working with several private equity companies completing acquisitions in the metals and mining sector.  Other prior experience includes President level roles at Somerset Coal International, Inc. and Quality Magnetite LLC.  Bill had a long career in metals industry waste and by-product recycling at National Recovery Systems, Inc., and its successor Harsco Corporation, where he ultimately held the global role of EVP Marketing & Business Development for the metals and minerals division.


  • Bachelor of Science, Business Administration, The Pennsylvania State University

Bruce Morgan

Senior Vice President – Human Resources and Environmental, Health and Safety

Bruce Morgan joined AZR in May 2010, bringing 20 years of industry experience to the role. He formerly worked as the Director of Human Resources – North America for the steel mill services division of Harsco Corporation. Prior to that, Bruce spent 10 years with Vesuvius USA as the Director of Human Resources for both its steel and foundry divisions. He was part of the start-up team for the construction of the Gallatin Steel Company.


  • Bachelor of Science, Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

Gary R. Whitaker

Senior Vice President – General Counsel and Secretary

Gary R. Whitaker joined AZR in December 2011. He formerly served as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for GrafTech International and Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for the US operations of SK Group.


  • Bachelor of Arts, UCLA
  • Juris Doctor, University of Houston Law School

Frank Vallelunga

Vice President – Controller

Frank Vallelunga joined AZR in 1991. Throughout his tenure, he’s held various positions in accounting and finance, and served as the General Manager of Specialty Products. Prior to AZR, he held staff positions at Ernst & Young and Geac Computer Corporation.


  • Bachelor of Arts, Accounting, Washington and Jefferson College
  • Master of Business Administration, Robert Morris College
  • Certified Public Accountant

Timothy R. Basilone

Vice President – Environmental Affairs

Tim Basilone joined AZR in 2010, bringing 30 years of experience in environmental programs and regulation to our company. Previously, he held progressively more responsible positions at Koppers, Inc and Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and was an exploration geologist for Marathon Oil Company.


  • Bachelor of Science, Geology, College of Wooster
  • Master of Science, Geology and Planetary Science, University of Pittsburgh
  • Registered Professional Geologist, Pennsylvania

Lee Burkett

Vice President – Engineering

Since Lee Burkett joined AZR in 2006, he’s had several operational and engineering roles. He has 40 years of metals industry experience behind him, and he’s previously held Plant and General Manager-level roles with Universal Stainless & Alloy Projects, J&L Specialty Steel, TIMET, and Lukens Steel.


  • Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University