MILWAUKEE, WI — General Motors’ Senior Vice President of Global Quality and Global Customer Experience, Alicia Boler-Davis, is one of five keynote speakers who will present at ASQ’s 2014 World Conference on Quality and Improvement.

The conference — held this year May 5–7 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas, USA —will offer attendees a forum of ideas and an international network of thought leaders, experts, and peers eager to share the best practices, tested solutions, and proven results.

The theme is “The Global Impact of Quality” and the focus areas of the World Conference on Quality and Improvement include customer relationships, risk management, building and sustaining a culture of quality, making the case for quality and quality fundamentals.

Boler-Davis will be joined by keynote speakers Erik Wahl, internationally recognized graffiti artist, author and entrepreneur; Robert F. Pence, president and CEO of Freese and Nichols Inc.; Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold, and author; and Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst.

Erik Wahl, graffiti artist, author, entrepreneur — Monday, May 5, Morning Keynote

Erik Wahl is an internationally recognized graffiti artist, best-selling author, and entrepreneur who has become one of the most sought-after corporate speakers available. His on-stage painting seamlessly becomes a visual metaphor to the core of his message — encouraging organizations toward profitability through innovations and superior levels of performance.

His clients include AT&T, Disney, Ernst & Young, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, London School of Business, Microsoft, and XPrize. He has also been featured as a TED presenter.

Wahl’s best-selling business book, “Unthink,” was hailed by Forbes Magazine as “the blueprint to actionable creativity” and by Fast Company Magazine as “provocative with a purpose.”

After a career as a partner in a corporate firm, Wahl became frustrated by the lack of innovative thought and corresponding profits in business. Wahl set out to challenge companies to change their way of thinking, while simultaneously pursuing his own individual passions.
In the past 10 years, he has shared his message with the largest companies in the world.

Robert F. Pence, president, CEO of Freese and Nichols Inc. — Monday, May 5, Afternoon Keynote

Bob Pence is CEO of Freese and Nichols Inc., a multiservice engineering, architecture, and environmental science firm with 15 offices in Texas and North Carolina. Pence led Freese and Nichols through the recession by supporting and enlarging the company’s continuous improvement program, commitments to clients and employees, and corporate plan for steady, sustainable growth.

As many peers struggled against financial loss, Freese and Nichols achieved its first year of $100 million in revenues. Thanks to Pence’s adherence to principles of continuous improvement, Freese and Nichols also became the first engineering and architecture firm to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for performance excellence.

Throughout his time with the company, Pence, who joined Freese and Nichols as an engineer in 1978, has championed corporate support for professional education, fostered an atmosphere of open communication throughout the company, and focused on involvement in company-wide community service projects. In 2011, CE News recognized Freese and Nichols as the Best Civil Engineering Firm to Work For in the nation among large firms. In 2011, Pence was named CEO of the Year by the Fort Worth Business Press.

Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold, and author — Tuesday, May 6, Morning Keynote

At age 36, Mike Abrashoff was named commander of the USS Benfold, an underperforming war ship with challenges solved by Abrashoff’s Leadership Roadmap, a system of management techniques that replaces command and control with commitment and cohesion, and engages the hearts, minds and loyalties of workers.

Through these principles, personnel turnover decreased to 1 percent, the rate of military promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25 percent.

Abrashoff recounted the leadership lessons from the turnaround of USS Benfold in “It’s Your Ship,” a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller. Abrashoff’s leadership journey and Benfold’s organizational lessons led to two follow-up books: “Get Your Ship Together” and “It’s Our Ship.”

Mike Abrashoff is the founder of GLS Worldwide, a consulting firm that works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent, and business challenges within their organization. The firm challenges leaders at all levels to reimagine their leadership thinking and create new ways to elevate individual, team and organizational performance.

Alicia Boler-Davis, senior vice president, Global Quality and Global Customer Experience, General Motors Company — Tuesday, May 6, Afternoon Keynote

Boler-Davis is senior vice president, global quality and global customer experience at General Motors Company. Boler-Davis reports to General Motors’ chairman and CEO Dan Akerson and is a member of the GM Executive Operations Committee.

Boler-Davis’ previous roles at GM include U.S. vice president, customer experience and vice president, global quality and U.S. customer experience.
Prior to these positions, Boler-Davis was plant manager of Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping, simultaneously. Prior to that, she held the positions of plant manager at Lansing Consolidated Operations and Arlington Assembly, where she was the first African-American woman to be appointed to plant manager at a GM vehicle manufacturing plant.

Boler-Davis has been recognized by numerous organizations and publications for her professional accomplishments and community service activities. In 2010, “Automotive News” named her as one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Automotive Industry; and in 2011, she was honored by the Michigan Chronicle as a Woman of Excellence.

Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of Students First — Wednesday, May 7, Morning Keynote

Michelle Rhee has been working tirelessly for the past two decades to give children the skills and knowledge they need to compete in a changing world.
From adding instructional time after school and visiting students' homes as a third-grade teacher in Baltimore, to hosting hundreds of community meetings and creating a Youth Cabinet to bring students' voices into reforming the Washington, D.C. public schools, Rhee has always been guided by one core principle: Put students first.

In Rhee’s first book, “Radical: Fighting to Put Students First,” Rhee lays the foundation of getting behind a movement to put children before the deteriorating status quo. The book serves as, “a call-to-arms guide to not only improve our schools, but also build a brighter future for America’s children.”
In 2007, Rhee was appointed to lead the District of Columbia Public Schools. Under her leadership, the worst-performing school district in the country became the only major city system to see double-digit growth in both their reading and math; and the graduation rate increased.

Global research results, more than 100 sessions offered

The World Conference on Quality and Improvement will feature more than 100 sessions, focusing on the global impact of quality and the focus areas of the conference. Sessions will cover topics critical to a variety of industries including traditional manufacturing, healthcare, government, financial services and more.
ASQ certification exams also are being offered onsite, and ASQ will present the 2013-2014 International Team Excellence Awards, the only international team recognition process of its kind in the world. Finalists will present their successes at Global Impact Sessions, which offer attendees the opportunity to learn firsthand from organizations that have saved millions using quality processes.