Get to Know Our New President & CEO: Alicia Fraser

juin 13, 2022
OCWA's client newsletter, Waterline recently conducted an interview with Alicia Fraser, OCWA’s new President & CEO. Alicia was most recently OCWA’s VP of Operations for South Peel, and officially stepped into her new role on March 31, 2022. In this interview, Alicia will share a bit about herself, what drew her to OCWA and what her immediate priorities are for the Agency.

Waterline: Thank you for sitting down with us, Alicia. Would you like to begin by telling us a bit about your background?

Alicia: Thank you! I'd like to start by saying how good it is to have this opportunity to connect here with our clients and industry partners. One of my priorities is to regularly engage with people both inside and outside the Agency, and this is a great way to do that.

I’m a professional engineer by trade and have my undergraduate degree in environmental civil engineering. I was a kid who loved being outdoors and also really enjoyed math and science in school. In high school, my eyes were opened to the relationship between people and the natural environment, specifically the impacts of human activity on our planet. When an environmental engineer visited my Grade 9 class to talk about careers, he told us about going to the Arctic after an oil spill and assisting in the clean-up. I was hooked and this “new” field of environmental engineering seemed like a great fit for me. My father is an engineer, so that likely had some influence as well.

The more I got into engineering, the more I started to zone in on the water side. While I dabbled in other areas, I was always drawn back to water. (One of those diversions was a Masters in Viticulture, growing vines for wine vineyards.) I began as a water engineer in the private sector and then moved to the public sector, working for the City of Toronto before coming to OCWA.

Waterline: What attracted you to OCWA?

Alicia: It was really the blend of public and private sector. I liked the idea of looking at the business side of water/wastewater management while continuing to work closely with municipalities in a public agency. OCWA is a unique entity – we bring together private sector efficiency and innovation with public sector values and accountability.

I also like how OCWA is 100% water-focused, which means we can concentrate on finding solutions for all things water related. As a partner to large and small communities and organizations, we see challenges from a wide spectrum and we can often apply a solution developed for one client to another. And then there’s the team at OCWA – I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for everyone who works here. Their dedication to protecting public health and the environment and the work they do to support the communities we serve inspires me.

Waterline: What do you bring to the CEO role?

Alicia: I think people who know me would say that I bring passion, energy and enthusiasm to everything I do. I’m one of those people who get up in the morning excited to see what challenges the day will bring – much to the annoyance of my family sometimes (laughs).

Many of my past roles have been project based. I like developing a vision and then implementing it. I also bring a good mix of technical as well as operational and managerial experience to the role. I really honed my leadership style while I was VP at OCWA South Peel. I learned the value of clear, proactive and transparent communication, an approach I will continue to use in this new role. It’s important to me that as members of the communities we operate in, our teams understand our partners’ priorities and emerging concerns, so that we find solutions that best meet those needs and drive efficiencies.

Waterline: Can you say a bit more about your leadership style?

Alicia: As a leader, I try to be inclusive and collaborative. In my experience, this approach builds stronger, more resilient and adaptable teams. It leads to more innovative ways of thinking and creates more opportunities for diversity and sharing of expertise across an organization. The stronger our team is, the better we can meet any challenges that arise.

I also want people to see me as approachable. I’d like OCWA employees and our client and industry partners to feel they can reach out to me with comments or concerns, or just to introduce themselves.

Waterline: What are your short-term priorities?

Alicia: My first priority has been to rebuild connections that have been fragmented during the pandemic. I’m starting my CEO role as Ontario is beginning to reopen. Although we might not realize it in the day-to-day, the pandemic has significantly impacted our relationships with each other and our feelings around what it is to be part of a team. So, over the next 3 to 6 months my goal is to get out and meet with both our employees and our clients in person – to go beyond the video meeting and hear how people are doing and how we can support them. I’ve already begun visiting OCWA regions across the province and am also excited to attend industry events through the year.

I intend to take this time not only to rebuild connections, but also to refresh OCWAs long-term strategic plan using feedback from staff and key stakeholders. The Agency’s strategic plan will focus on strengthening our team, business growth, and opportunities to protect the environment and support Ontario communities, both municipal and First Nation. For me it is imperative that OCWA builds its long-term vision on a foundation that is rooted in feedback from our key stakeholders.

Waterline: Let’s go for a fun question next. You mentioned that you have a passion for the environment and outdoors – something you likely share with a number of our readers. Do you have a favourite body of water?

Alicia: You know, I do have a favourite – Lake Saint Francis. It’s located on the St. Lawrence River and borders Ontario, Quebec and New York state. My grandparents lived on that lake and I spent all my summers swimming there with my cousins. I connect these memories with a feeling of being surrounded by happiness, love and so much laughter.

Waterline: Thanks for your time today, Alicia. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers right now?

Alicia: It’s been a tough couple of years for everyone, but as I meet with staff, clients and industry partners, I find there is an excitement about reconnecting and also a sense of renewed purpose. I feel fortunate to have stepped into this role at this time when people are open to assessing their priorities and how they want to achieve them. While I crisscross Ontario this summer, I hope I will get the chance to meet with many of our readers and hear about the water and wastewater systems they want to see now and in the future. If you’d like to get in touch with me in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Please send me a message at

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about me and my priorities for OCWA. Till next time, be well and be safe.