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Love for Paper and Essential Products at First Sight

Cecilia Colburn walked into Procter & Gamble’s Cape Girardeau mill over 17 years ago as an intern and knew that the paper industry was the industry for her. Simply put, it was love at first sight.

“The first time I saw the dry end of a paper machine, I knew that I wanted to work on one full-time. The next summer I started full-time as a Process Engineer on a paper machine start up. I spent the next 13 years in papermaking before moving into the converting operation where I learned how our products delighted consumers. I love that I can show my kids what I make every time we enter a store,” said Colburn, who now serves as the Green Bay plant manager.

With women making up 20 percent of the workforce, Colburn reflected on her first time meeting a woman plant manager and the value behind that interaction.

“I know I would not be a plant manager had I not had a female plant manager early in my career. That was the first time I thought, ‘Wow, someone like me could be a plant manager,’” said Colburn. “We need more companies promoting women into these leadership positions.”

As someone who was inspired by a female plant manager, Colburn finds it important to help guide other women at her mill.

“I LOVE the impact I get to have on new employees. I love to mentor the young women in my organization,” she said. For Colburn, she wants women to be proud of who they are and not shy away from being good at math and science.

Another important aspect of her work is the role she played as an essential employee during the spring of 2020. 

“It was especially rewarding in 2020 – I know it was easy to feel helpless during the pandemic, but I had the chance to make Charmin, Bounty and Puffs. It was my way of helping people during a difficult time. I couldn’t change the uncertainty of the pandemic, but I could fill their pantry with the products they needed,” said Colburn.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recycle resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper