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.

Candice White, Director

Candice White is the Chief Administrative Officer for a rural municipality in Peterborough County.  She is a results-focused Municipal Manager specializing in finance and executive leadership. While promoting balanced economic growth, she has demonstrated significant accomplishments in streamlining operations, maximizing efficiencies, driving strategic outcomes, and developing an effective communication plan for relationship building.  After two decades in finance, she has taken specific interest in asset management and the benefits that program provides.  Known as a proficient grant writer, she has successfully received millions of dollars for municipal infrastructure and community programming for her community.  Candice also sat as a member of the York Region Wastewater Advisory Panel and is the Secretary-Treasurer for the Police Services Board.  

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 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.

Nike Dattani

Dr. Nike Dattani was born in Scarborough, Ontario to refugee parents from Uganda. His PhD was completed at Oxford University (in England) where he wrote the first software to calculate Feynman integrals numerically on GPU hardware. He was awarded the prestigious Hetherington Prize for the best doctoral thesis presentation in his year.

While developing the MLR potential energy model with Bob LeRoy at the University of Waterloo, he invented what later became called the "Dattani corrections". Also while at UW, he worked with Ray Laflamme on the three-slit experiment, which was the first experimental test of Born's rule in quantum mechanics. He then worked on numerous scientific projects in computational genetics at University of Western Ontario, including one which established the techniques used many years later to discover in early 2020 that the virus causing COVID-19 was closely related to coronaviruses in bats. Other experience of his includes holding a Banting Fellowship at McMaster University, working as a Research Officer at NRC, university-level teaching as a faculty member at University of Waterloo, and instrumental work in the early stages of HPQC Labs and HPQC College.

Outside of Canada, he set the record for "largest number factored on a quantum device" while working at Kyoto University in Japan, he founded the Gravity in Spectroscopy project while working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, contributed to ending a debate about the importance of quantum coherence in photosynthesis while working at NTU in Singapore, and contributed to quantum chemistry software (most notably NECI and OpenMOLCAS) during numerous visits to the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Germany.

Dr. Dattani started the Matter Modeling Stack Exchange in 2020. With 4000+ members, it is the largest community in the field of physical and chemical modeling of matter.

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

Iman Hashemi, President & CEO

Iman Hashemi, M.Eng is OCWA’s President and CEO. 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. 

Mike Mortimer, Vice President, Operations, South Peel Region

Mike Mortimer is OCWA’s Vice President of Operations, South Peel. Since joining the Agency in 2020, Mike previously served as Regional Hub Manager for both Conveyances Services and the Georgian Highlands Region. Prior to joining OCWA, Mike spent 18 years on the municipal side of water and wastewater operations across Ontario, where he used a combination of practical experience, leadership expertise, and innovative passion to drive programs and deliver efficient operations in both water and wastewater.

Mike obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree (Environmental Science and Biology) from Western University and holds Class 4 certification licenses in Water Distribution and Supply, and Water Treatment, as well as Class 2 certification licenses in Wastewater Treatment and Wastewater Collection.

Natalie Peers, Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services

Natalie Peers is the Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services, joining OCWA in 2023. She brings over 15 years experience in progressively senior roles at Sobeys Inc. and most recently at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment as the Sr. Director, Finance overseeing a variety of functions including controllership and financial planning & analysis. Natalie graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in 2007 (BBA), St. Mary’s University in 2010 (MBA) and received her CPA designation in 2010.

Terry Bender, Executive Vice-President

Terry Bender has been with OCWA since its inception and has over 30 years’ experience in the water and wastewater sector across Ontario.  Previously OCWA’s Vice President of Operations – and a member of OCWA’s Executive Management Team – Terry’s client-focused approach and years of experience in operating, maintaining, and managing water and wastewater treatment facilities and delivering on capital projects have made him a recognized leader in the Ontario water sector.  Terry has led OCWA in the development of compliance, process and operational systems for optimization and regulatory reporting for the effective operation of water and wastewater facilities across Ontario. Through years of experience, he has grown the Agency’s competitive municipal client base throughout Ontario, and has contributed to OCWA’s current financial growth and success. Terry is the Ontario director sitting on the Board of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), a not-for-profit organization that represents the common interests of Canada’s public sector municipal water and wastewater services and their private sector suppliers and partners.

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.

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. 

Wilhelm Rinas, General Counsel (A) and Secretary to the Board

Wilhelm Rinas has worked for the Ontario Clean Water Agency for over 20 years as legal counsel and prior to that time he worked for the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and in the private sector. He has a background in public administration and worked in international marketing before he began his legal career.