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WQA Opening General Session

 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. PDT  l  Wednesday, July 28, 2021



The WQA Opening General Session (OGS) kicks off this year’s WQA Convention & Exposition on Wednesday, July 28th at 3 p.m. PDT. You’ll hear from this year’s WQA Lifetime and Hall-of-Fame award recipients while also recognizing the Leadership Award winners from 2020 and 2021.

The program also features remarks from WQA President Toby Thomas, WQA Executive Director Pauli Undesser and WQA Associate Director for Member & Public Engagement Tom Bruursema. Plus, you’ll be inspired and challenged by dynamic Keynote Speaker Simon T. Bailey who will encourage all of us to “Be the Spark” in our organizations.

Plan now to arrive in time for this informational and uplifting program, the perfect way to begin the Convention.


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Toby Thomas
WQA President

Toby Thomas is President and CEO of Kinetico Inc. Previously he served as Kinetico’s Chief Marketing Officer. He started his career as a new products process engineer with Frito-Lay in their R&D group, and he also was a Senior Partner at Monitor Group, a leading global strategy and growth consulting firm. Toby earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario), and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. In addition to being the WQA Vice President, on the Board of Governors and Board of Directors, he has served on the Board of Trustees of Queen’s University.


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Pauli Undesser, MWS, CAE
WQA Executive Director

Pauli Undesser is Executive Director of the Water Quality Association. Prior to assuming her role in 2017, she served as interim executive director for two years. Prior to that, Pauli was WQA’s Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs and Water Quality Research Foundation Coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE).


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Tom Bruursema
WQA Executive Director for Member & Public Engagement

Tom Bruursema is the Associate Executive Director of Member and Public Engagement. He has responsibility for membership, government affairs, marketing, events and professional certification. Tom holds a B.S. degree in Medical Technology, an M.S. in General Biology, and has more than 30 years of experience in laboratory testing, certification and standards development with expertise in residential and small commercial water and wastewater treatment.


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Simon T. Bailey
Keynote Speaker

“Be the Spark” leader, speaker and author Simon T. Bailey will deliver the keynote address during the Opening General Session. Bailey was named one of “25 Successful People Who’ll Help Change Your Life” by Success magazine in 2017.

He has worked with more than 1,700 organizations in 46 countries, engaging and inspiring team members through his workshops, books, online courses and speeches. He is the author of 10 books, most recently Be the SPARK: Five Platinum Service Principles for Creating Customers for Life.

If you’re unforgettable, you’ll create a customer for life – and in this service-driven economy, where automation and algorithms have replaced personal interaction, every moment is an opportunity to create a memory in the hearts and lives of your clients and team members.

In this keynote presentation, Simon leverages what he’s learned over 30 years of working for six different companies, including the Disney Institute and The Ritz-Carlton Learning Institute, to create moments that matter.

Relationships are the currency of the future. Simon will help you break through and transform from good service to Platinum Service and create brand champions who become customers for life.



As with all of our sessions during the WQA Convention, some socially-distanced seating options are provided. Face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated attendees but required for unvaccinated persons.