Bonnie Schmidt, C.M., Ph.D., President & Founder
Dr. Bonnie Schmidt, C.M. is the founder and president of Let’s Talk Science, an award-winning, national charitable organization that she started in 1991 while completing a Ph.D. in Physiology. Let’s Talk Science helps children and youth fulfill their potential and prepare for their future careers and citizenship role by supporting their learning through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) engagement. During its 20+ year history Let’s Talk Science has mobilized more than 26,000 volunteers and impacted 5 million youth and educators. Supporting education transformation and developing creative, critical thinkers the organization is on track to achieve its bold goal of impacting 5 million more youth over the next 5 years.
Bonnie continues to volunteer with a variety of organizations and initiatives. Currently she serves on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and is Chair of the National Leadership Taskforce on Education & Skills for the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC). She is also on the Governor General’s selection panel for the Meritorious Service Award, Mitacs Policy Fellowship Advisory Council, MaRS Studio-Y National Advisory Panel and the editorial board of the Energy Exchange magazine.
For her efforts in education and youth development, Bonnie was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015 and has received several awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from Ryerson University; the Purvis Memorial Award from the Chemical Institute of Canada; the C21 Shifting Minds Award for Leadership and Innovation; the Life Sciences Ontario Community Service Award; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Bonnie enjoys riding horses and lives in London, Ontario with her daughter.
David Lapides, Vice President, Programs
As Vice President of Programs for Let’s Talk Science, David Lapides leads the team responsible for design, development and delivery of resources for Preschool to Grade 12 educators and their students. The resources include digital materials and events for students as well as professional learning opportunities for educators.
A former educator, David held various senior management roles with Calgary-based SMART Technologies, a global leader in collaborative learning technology. In his 11 years with SMART, David's responsibilities included Director, Global Education Strategy; Director, Education Program Management; and Director, Education Policy and Practice. In these roles David worked with educators across Canada and around the world to transform teaching practice and improve learning outcomes, especially in STEM subject areas. Prior to SMART, David was Vice President of Operations for ExploreLearning, makers of the award-winning digital math and science simulations known as Gizmos. He was a co-founder and Director of Product Development for the ActiveInk Corporation, a pioneer in online, inquiry-based, cross-subject environmental studies. David was a teacher and researcher in the prestigious Computer Writing and Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. He has also worked as an active speaker and adviser for organizations that provide technology-enabled resources for teaching and learning.
Vanessa Nelson, Vice President, External Relations
As the Vice President, External Relations Vanessa oversees the strategic management of communications, marketing, fund development and stakeholder relations for Let’s Talk Science. With a Bachelor of Social Sciences, Sociology and Political Thought from the University of Ottawa / Université d'Ottawa, and being fully bilingual, Vanessa is able to offer insight and guidance for all Let’s Talk Science and Parlons sciences marketing and communications needs, while advancing the organizations profile among industry funders and government officials.
Vanessa’s past experience includes eight years as the President and owner of Word4Word Communications, a firm providing senior level strategic communications planning, and advice. As a consultant, Vanessa has worked as a senior advisor to a number of federal departments and national museums providing strategic guidance on communications planning, stakeholder engagement, internal communications, marketing and event management. Vanessa has also held senior communications roles with Industry Canada (now Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada) and Natural Resources Canada.
In her spare time Vanessa enjoys summers at the family cabin, and winter weekends on the slopes.