OCWA’s Organization & People

Board of Directors

Members of OCWA's Board of Directors are appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council. OCWA's Board is made up of qualified independent members and senior executives employed with the Ontario government. Together, the Board has collective expertise in managing private sector and municipal corporations, including utilities, overseeing various levels of government, and advising on regulatory matters related to the environment and drinking water.

Joseph Pennachetti, Chair

Joseph Pennachetti’s storied career in municipal public service spans about four decades.  He became Toronto’s Chief Financial Officer in 2002 and City Manager in 2008, where he was responsible for the city’s budget until his retirement in 2015.  Of his many accomplishments at the City of Toronto, Pennachetti developed the City’s strategic plan for 2014-2018 in order to build on the city’s key achievements from the previous decade, advancing City Council’s vision, mission, and goals for years to come.  Under his leadership, the City of Toronto was – and continues to be – recognized internationally for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services and is among the highest ranked cities for tax competiveness, business investment, labour attractiveness and livability. 

Prior to joining the City of Toronto, Mr. Pennachetti was the Chief Financial Officer for the regional municipalities of Peel and York, held a senior financial position with the regional municipality of Durham and spent ten years at the City of Edmonton.  Mr. Pennachetti was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System Sponsors Corporation in January of 2016.  He joined the University of Toronto as executive adviser to the Global Cities Institute and the World Council on City Data and as a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance in November of 2015.

Amy Syed

Amy is an entrepreneur, investor and volunteer who has dedicated over 22 years of her career to working with the community and driving change by leveraging technology in the healthcare sector and Cybersecurity.

Amy Syed (she/her) is a Speaker, Author, Registered Kinesiologist, Rehab Professional and Cybersecurity professional. Amy is the Founder and CEO of FindYourHCP, a tech company that helps support health care providers and employers with a platform that enables workforce solutions. She is also Principal Consultant of her consulting agency with a focus on IT governance, risk and compliance with consulting experience with the top 5 accounting consulting firms globally. With experience as a Realtor, Amy is a real estate investor, with experience in purchasing rural and commercial properties. Amy has spent years in the private sector where she developed a career in project management, specializing in change management and IT system implementation projects, with a focus on cybersecurity and risk management.  Amy first began her career in the public sector where she was trained at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto and worked with the Workplace Safety and insurance Board (WSIB) in vocational rehabilitation. 

As a volunteer, Amy has been on several Boards of Directors, including Chair at the Period Purse, Board Member for Durham Catholic Family Services and the Canadian Cancer Society.

Amy has been nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year by RBC, Women of Influence and has been recognized for her contributions by BMO Women, Ella at York and Scotiabank Women Initiative. 

Hao "Artie" Li

Hao (Artie) Li is a Chartered Professional Accountant with years eight years of professional experience. Hao graduated from the University of Toronto in 2013 with a degree in Accounting. Hao started his professional career with Ernst & Young LLP where he worked as a senior accountant and serviced clients from a wide array of industries such as Medical, Manufacture, Government Agencies, and Non-For-Profit Organizations. Hao is currently the Chief Financial Officer of two publicly traded companies in the resources industry where he spearheaded multiple acquisition deals and manage operations from multiple foreign jurisdictions. 

Joe Farag

Joe Farag is a public finance professional with over 30 years’ experience, including 25 years in senior and executive management positions with the City of Toronto. In 2017 and 2018, Joe served as the City's Interim Chief Financial Officer, overseeing a $17 Billion annual Budget and providing strategic financial and policy advice to the Mayor and members of Council. Joe also served as the City's Executive Director of Corporate Finance for a decade with direct management oversight of the City's multi-billion dollar investment portfolio and debt issuance programs, insurance and risk management, intergovernmental finance and corporate policy development including policies dealing with taxation, development charges and water and wastewater pricing and financing. Joe has developed and led many unique financing arrangements and public private partnerships to deliver major City building initiatives in the areas of transit expansion, affordable housing and social and recreational facilities.  Joe holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Masters Degree in Economics and Finance.

Laila Hulbert

Laila Hulbert graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Engineering Science, with Honors, in 2013, and has worked in the semiconductor industry since. Laila is currently a Staff Engineer and Technical Lead for a hardware design verification team at a large industry-leading multi-national corporation. She has worked primarily on cutting edge hardware to support Artificial Intelligence and image processing applications on mobile platforms. She is passionate about increasing diversity in engineering, and has led numerous initiatives to promote women in engineering. 

 

Michael Thorne

Michael Thorne P. Eng. is a retired Municipal Consultant with over 50 years of experience in the planning, operation and construction of water, wastewater and solid waste projects. He spent 15 years with the Ministry of the Environment managing the South Peel Water and Sewage System prior to joining the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, where he held a variety of senior positions including the Commissioner of Works with the Metro Works Department. After 14 years with Metropolitan Toronto he started his own consulting business and since then, he has provided a variety of consulting services in delivering capital water and wastewater programs for the Regions of Halton, Durham, and Peel and the City of Hamilton.  He finished his last project with the Region of Halton in 2017.  He is currently enjoying retirement and his work on the OCWA Board.

Michael Watt

Michael Watt, P.Eng is the Executive Vice President of the Environmental Division at Walker Industries, headquartered in Niagara Falls. He is responsible for a wide portfolio of businesses in the environmental field, including composting, biosolids treatment, growing media from waste organics, grease trap and organics collection as well as the traditional waste management services of landfill, waste transportation and logistics. He specializes in business development, change management and mergers and acquisitions.Michael also sits on the Ontario Waste Management Association Board, where he previously served as chair for two terms. 

Mitchell Zamojc

Mitchell brings over 40 years of experience within the Ontario engineering industry to OCWA, including 25 years in senior management positions with the Regional Municipalities of Peel and Halton. During his tenure in the public sector, Mitchell managed operational programs and progressive innovation in a wide range of municipal business areas. As Commissioner of Public Works for the Regions of Peel and Halton, he was responsible for a number of portfolios, including water, wastewater, solid waste, transportation, metering, fleet, Public Works facilities and buildings.

Quirien Muylwyk

Quirien Muylwyk, MASc., P.Eng. is the AECOM Americas Practice Director for Water Quality, where she leads efforts to improve public health via infrastructure investments, including the management of water quality in the distribution system and at the customer’s tap. Prior to joining AECOM, Quirien was the Business Development and Technology Manager for Water Canada with CH2M HILL across all platforms including drinking water, wastewater, water resources, conveyance, operations, and industrial water. She has worked with water systems to optimize performance and prioritize future investments, including the implementation of pragmatic solutions to reduce the risk of lead exposure from drinking water. Quirien has also worked with water utilities across North America and has collaborated with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks, Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Active with the American Water Works Association, Quirien is a past chair of the Water Quality and Technology Division, a past member of the Technical and Education Council, and is currently a member of the Distribution System Water Quality Committee and the Premise Plumbing Committee.

Richard Austin

Richard Austin was born and raised in Toronto.  He spent most of his professional career as a financial services lawyer and became increasingly involved in securities, and mutual fund dealer, financial planning and securities dealer matters in particular, over the last 20 years. He has held a variety of positions, including Senior Legal Counsel with the Ontario Securities Commission, Vice President, Legal and Business Affairs for Money Concepts, Deputy Head of Compliance, Wealth Management Scotiabank and Counsel at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.  He works part-time as the General Counsel of Lending Loop, a peer-to-peer fintech lending organization.

Richard was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1983 after receiving his law degree from the University of Windsor in 1981. He received a B.A. (Honours) majoring in Economics in 1978 from the University of Toronto and an MBA majoring in Finance from York University in 1984.   He has been a member of boards of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, Scotia Securities Inc. and the Association of Canadian Compliance Professionals and the author of a number of courses and articles related to the securities industry. He currently is a member of Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada's Hearing Panel and the Administrative Penalty Tribunal of City of Toronto.

Melanie Debassige

Melanie Debassige has over 17 years of experience in Aboriginal Economic Development.  She is currently employed with the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations as the Chief of Staff.  She obtained a Diploma in Native Management and Economic Development from Trent University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario.  She also has a certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo and is a certified Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer with the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers.  Melanie held the elected position of Councillor with the M’Chigeeng First Nation Chief and Council for eight years and was appointed as a police commissioner with the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Police Services for seven years.  She also holds a position as Director on the Mother Earth Renewable Energy Board that oversees the for-profit wind turbine corporation that is solely owned by M’Chigeeng First Nation. Melanie has also served on the Great Spirit Circle Trail Board of Directors, a not-for-profit destination marketing organization.  Melanie was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor to the Ontario Clean Water Agency Board of Directors in October 2013, where she leads the Board’s First Nations Task Force.  Melanie completed the Director’s Education Program at the Rotman School of Management and is now a certified corporate director.  She also has a Master’s in Business Administration.  Melanie was just recognized by the Canadian Board Diversity Council in the Diversity 50, which recognizes fifty Board ready candidates across Canada.

Debbie Korolnek

Debbie has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of municipal engineering. Before her retirement, she served as the General Manager, Engineering, Planning and Environment, for Simcoe County. A graduate of the University of Guelph in 1983 with a B.Sc. in Water Resources Engineering, Debbie began her career in consulting engineering working in municipal water and wastewater. In 1991 she joined the Regional Municipality of York as a project engineer, and worked in several positions to eventually become the General Manager, Water and Wastewater in 2005. While at York, she served as a municipal representative on the CTC Source Protection Committee. She was also closely involved with implementation of policies under the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Plan, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and Source Water Protection Plans. Debbie left York Region in 2008 to pursue a broader career in Public Works with the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, where she worked with staff to develop a strategic plan for the newly formed engineering services department, combining roads, water, wastewater, development engineering and asset management and bringing in-house capital delivery. She joined Simcoe County in April 2013 and has oversight of the Planning, Solid Waste, Roads, Forestry, Economic Development, Tourism and By-Law Departments.

Executive Management Team

Nevin McKeown, President and CEO

Nevin McKeown has been with OCWA since its inception in 1993 and has been with the Ontario Public Service more than 25 years. Nevin began his career in the Operations group in the South Peel facilities and held progressively responsible positions with OCWA, most recently as Vice President, Operations and as acting President and CEO. He was named President of OCWA on a permanent basis in June 2017. Nevin has led a number of diverse teams and initiatives throughout his career, including the operational integration of $350 million in capital expansion projects at the Peel wastewater facilities. Nevin is a long-time member of the Water Environment Association of Ontario and the Ontario Water Works Association.  He holds an Operating Engineer Certificate (2nd Class) and a Class Four Wastewater Treatment Certificate.

Iman Hashemi, Vice President, Innovation and Infrastructure Solutions

Iman Hashemi, M.Eng is OCWA’s Vice President, Innovation and Infrastructure Solutions. Iman has spent his entire career in the water industry, working for GE Water (now SUEZ) before joining OCWA in 2011 as a Process and Energy Optimization Specialist, South Peel Water System. In 2016, he became the Manager of the Arthur P. Kennedy Water Treatment Plant in Peel. Since then, he has led trials of innovative technologies in treatment facilities, managed state of good repair large budgets for clients, and implemented advanced facility maintenance programs. In his new role, Iman will be responsible for leading the Agency’s engineering, process optimization and energy management groups. 

Helen Bao, Vice President, Finance

Helen Bao is the Vice President of Finance for OCWA. Helen oversees all financial functions for the Agency and provides strategic advice to the Executive Management Team and the Board of Directors. Helen is committed to building strategic partnership with stakeholders, enhancing the organization’s financial health and supporting the sustainable growth of the Agency to meet its business objectives and public mandate. Helen provides leadership on strategic planning and transformational initiatives as OCWA explores a new business model and development opportunities. She also manages the Agency's investment and loan portfolio. 

In the past, Helen has held senior management roles at the Ontario Public Service and has over a decade of experience in corporate finance, I&IT financial and business management services and strategic planning. During her time with the Ministry of Education, Helen fostered a strong partnership with stakeholders and led the team to successfully manage the Ministry’s budget. Helen is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder, and has a CPA, CMA designation. She also holds an MBA degree from the Ivey Business School at the Western University.

Terry Bender, Vice President, Operations

Terry Bender joined OCWA at its inception in 1993 and has been with the Ontario Public Service for 30 years. Before being named VP of Operations in 2016, he held many challenging positions with the Ministry of the Environment & Climate Change and OCWA, including Operations Manager, Capital Works Manager, General Manager and Regional Hub Manager. Terry is a licensed master electrician, licensed well technician and contractor, and holds class 4 certification in water treatment and distribution, as well as a class 3 in wastewater treatment and collection. Terry is a member of the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians & Technologists. 

Sav Chawla, Vice President, Information and Information Technology

Sav Chawla is the VP of I&IT and joined OCWA in 2016. Sav brings over 25 years of experience in I&IT having held many roles in the private sector at profit and not-for-profit organizations as well as senior management roles in the Ontario Public Sector. As VP of I&IT, Sav has the responsibility to lead her teams to design and deliver technology solutions that will support the water and wastewater operational needs of a diverse client group.

Courtney Drew, Vice President, Human Resources

Courtney Drew has over 13 years of experience in Human Resources in the Ontario Public Service.  Courtney holds an Honours Bachelors of Arts Degree from Queen’s University and a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources from Humber College.  Her career began as a Human Resources Consultant at the Ministry of Community and Social Services, after which she has held progressively responsible positions, showing strong leadership throughout.  She is instrumental in leading OCWA’s Human Resources to be a strategic business ally for the Agency.  Courtney and her team play an active role in the establishment and execution of overall strategy, integrating internal and external stakeholder expectations through identification, forecasting and facilitation of organizational responses to an ever-changing internal workforce and external pressures.

Alicia Fraser, Vice President of Operations, South Peel

Alicia Fraser is the Vice President of Operations, South Peel for Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA).  In this role Alicia is responsible for overseeing the operation and maintenance of water, wastewater, distribution and collection systems that serve nearly 1.4 million people in the Region of Peel, including some of the largest and most sophisticated water and wastewater facilities in North America.  

Alicia has more than a decade of experience in consulting engineering, designing and project managing water and wastewater plants throughout Ontario.  Prior to taking on her current role at OCWA, Alicia was the Vice President of Engineering, Capital and Support Services, a position in which she was responsible for overseeing a wide variety of programs, including project planning and delivery, capital solutions, innovation and technology, asset management, environmental compliance and health and safety. 

Before joining OCWA, Alicia worked for the City of Toronto, where she held progressively senior roles in the Engineering and Construction Services department, including leading a team responsible for capital delivery of sanitary and storm water management solutions associated with the Basement Flooding Protection Program.

Richard Junkin, Vice President, Operations

Richard Junkin has been with OCWA since its inception in 1993, most recently as the Regional Hub Manager for the Region of Waterloo. A certified water and wastewater operator, Richard brings more than 20 years of valuable operational experience to his role as VP. He is a former member of OCWA’s emergency response team, having been involved in several emergency response efforts across Ontario. Richard is also proud to have been part of the OCWA Jets, the Agency’s award-winning Operations Challenge team. 

Robin Kind, Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Robin Kind joined the Ontario Clean Water Agency in November 1994 and was appointed General Counsel in 2003. In December 2015, Robin was appointed Executive Vice President. Robin’s 25-year legal career spans both the public and private sector. Prior to joining OCWA, she spent several years with leading national law firms in Toronto practicing in the areas of corporate commercial and environmental law. In addition to her legal and Board responsibilities as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Robin also has responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management, Marketing and Communications and Community Outreach. Robin graduated from University of Toronto Law in 1987 and was called to the Bar in 1989.