Genesis co-founder Skip Phillips has added himself to the list of leaders who have left the organization since the merging of its parent, the National Swimming Pool Foundation, with the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals.
Last month, Genesis Education Director David Peterson and Deputy Education Director Bill Drakeley left the group to form a new organization, Watershape University. They plan to teach their scheduled Genesis courses and did not cite complaints about the new Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, but said they felt the timing was right.
But unlike Peterson and Drakeley, Phillips does not plan to teach the classes that he had been scheduled for, and he has attributed his move to an unhappiness with certain actions by PHTA.
He and fellow co-founder Brian Van Bower have served as ambassadors and instructors for Genesis since it merged with NSPF in 2015.
Considering that Genesis formed basically as a rebuke to APSP in its previous incarnation, many had wondered how the figures would coexist when APSP and NSPF came together.
For Phillips, the situation came to a head earlier this month, he said, when he reached out to PHTA leadership to discuss his contract and the intellectual property of himself and other Genesis instructors. According to Phillips, Genesis instructors own their own course materials, and their contracts with Genesis do not transfer to PHTA. He wanted to make sure the new organization’s leadership understood this and to discuss his own contract for teaching. After a week passed without a response, he resigned.
He also objected to the dismissal of Lauren Stack, who had overseen Genesis as managing director of NSPF’s residential division, saying management of the group’s education would now be handled by staff who came from APSP. Additionally, he had heard that the Genesis pavilion would not appear at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo beginning in 2020. He was concerned that the Genesis program would be diluted and fused with educational programs that come from APSP.
Phillips said this was not connected with Peterson’s and Drakeley’s leaving, and that he currently has no affiliation with Watershape University.
“This is my way of saying, ‘I’m not going to help you go down a road that is detrimental to the people in Genesis,’” Phillips said.
Phillips added that he wishes Genesis and new PHTA CEO Sabeena Hickman, well. “I spent 20 years involved in an organization that I believed in, and I still believe in the principles of it. ... Whatever structure that is out there that takes its place, if Genesis goes away and there’s another structure that has the same sense of integrity and an educational system that is at the level of Genesis, then I’ll participate as a student.”
Hickman, PHTA’s first permanent CEO, just began in early September. Both she and Phillips said they have spoken about the situation, and that the talks went well. “I’ve had a couple great conversations with Skip regarding the future of the industry and potentially what we can do together down the road,” Hickman said. “...I think what they created with Genesis is a legacy for them, and I said [to Phillips] that I commend them for their leadership and commitment.”
She added: “I told him that the door’s always open. ... I understand if he wants to wait and see what PHTA’s all about. He’s a visionary, he’s got great passion for the industry, and some great ideas. So I’m hopeful that down the road we can find a way to work together.”
She said that she also hopes to work with Watershape University down the line.
Hickman also said that PHTA does not plan to remove the Genesis Pavilion from the PSP Expo lineup in 2020.
“Genesis will remain Genesis,” she said.
For the time being, she said, Genesis will be overseen by Jim Mock, interim executive director of its non-profit foundation, who came to the organization from NSPF.