Dr. Bonnie Schmidt
Founder & President
Let’s Talk Science
"Creating A Stimulating Learning Environment"
Dr. Bonnie Schmidt is the Founder and President of Let’s Talk Science, a Canadian education charity that she started in 1991 while completing a PhD in Physiology at Western University. She started the organization as a small outreach project in response to an economic recession that saw severe cuts to research funding.
In the early 90’s, little public outreach was happening, and when the funding began to disappear, researchers realized that the public didn’t understand the meaning and value of their work. That’s when Bonnie and a small group of graduate students decided to change that and Let’s Talk Science was born. They reached out to teachers, visited classrooms and brought students to campus to share interesting activities, enthusiasm and knowledge about science.
Pursuing the creation of the organization during her PhD studies turned out to be one of the best decisions she could have made and has set her up for an amazing adventure over the past three decades. Today, through Let’s Talk Science, Bonnie continues to bring together people who care deeply about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), education, and youth across Canada.
Today, Let’s Talk Science is a trusted national partner in education, working with thousands of schools and organizations to offer programs at no cost in English and French. The organization helps children and youth fulfill their potential and prepare for their future careers and citizenship role by supporting their learning through STEM engagement. Let’s Talk Science offers a robust suite of programming and has surpassed 11.4 million interactions with youth, educators, and parents since its inception. The foundation’s partnerships currently include over 53 universities, colleges, and research institutes; many STEM-based organizations and industries, schools and school boards, among others.
Let’s Talk Science has led several successful bold projects because of its deep commitment to collaboration and continuous learning. Bonnie has encouraged and actively worked at partnering with diverse organizations to ensure youth in Canada have the skills they need to contribute and thrive. “We rarely do things alone, and we are not afraid to fail as we innovate. Our depth and breadth of programming has allowed us to remain a relevant and trusted partner in education,” adds the steadfast leader. “Thanks to our strong foundation and close relationships across the education sector, we have been able to adapt and change our programing to meet the evolving needs of educators over the past 30 years.”
With the desire to catalyze sustained change, Bonnie spearheaded Canada 2067, an ambitious initiative to shape the future of STEM education. She is also actively engaged in the STEM community in Canada and internationally. She currently serves on the Genome Canada Board of Directors, is a member of the Federal Government’s AI Public Awareness Working Group, and she is helping reinvigorate outreach programming with the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS).
In 2020, she was a member of the PISA Expert Strategic Visioning Group to the OECD, which set about developing a new vision for the international science test. Bonnie is an effective communicator who clearly articulates why Let’s Talk Science exists and what it achieves. At the core of her work is a commitment to supporting youth development by creating relevant and meaningful connections between the education and scientific ecosystems.
For her efforts in education and youth development, Bonnie has received more than a dozen awards, including an Honorary Degree from Ryerson University. She was named a Member of the Order of Canada and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
One of Bonnie’s important leadership qualities is her desire to help those around her grow and develop their leadership capacity. She encourages those she works with to take risks, explore new ideas and take on projects and work that challenges them. At the heart of her leadership is a commitment to collaboration and continuous learning, which she brings into the workplace. These values encourage team members to work together to meet challenges collectively and commit to their learning – which she is happy to support through access to training, coaching, and conversations – to help them grow their skills and leadership capacity.
A respected leader, Bonnie is a role model who leads by example and lives the values of the organization. This creates a stimulating, encouraging and supportive environment for all team members. She is also committed to mentoring and supporting people who are early in their careers and trying to determine their pathway (i.e. students, early stage entrepreneurs).
The pandemic presented many leadership challenges. It also underscored the importance of STEM for the global response and the value of scientific literacy to mitigate negative impacts of misinformation and disinformation. For Bonnie, the past two years have reinforced the importance of Let’s Talk Science in helping youth develop skills and characteristics that are more important than ever. WL
Dr. Bonnie Schmidt
Founder & President
Let’s Talk Science
Let’s Talk Science is a national charitable organization committed to inspiring and empowering Canadian youth to develop the skills they need to participate and thrive in an ever-changing world. To accomplish this, Let’s Talk Science offers a comprehensive suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators and volunteers across Canada.