The Let’s Talk Science family is made up of enthusiastic staff members and volunteers who share a love of science and a passion for inspiring and engaging children and youth.
- Bonnie Schmidt, C.M., Ph.D., President & Founder
- David Lapides, Vice President, Programs
- Vanessa Nelson, Vice President, External Relations
- Marietta (Mars) Bloch, Ph.D., Associate Vice President Professional Learning
- Sara Steers, Senior Director, Philanthropy
- Glenda Casimir, Manager, Community Development and Emerging Opportunities, Manager Tomatosphere™
- Cailin Clarke, Director of Planning and Organizational Development
- Isabel Deslauriers, Manager, Let’s Talk Science Outreach
- Jessica Johnston, Manager, Web Strategy and Development
- Nikki Morton, Manager, Finance, Administration & Information Systems
- Scott Taylor, Interim Manager, CurioCity
Of our more than 40 committed staff members, many have graduate degrees in the sciences, are trained educators and are experts at using science as a learning platform. Some of our senior staff members have been with Let’s Talk Science since its inception in 1993, while others bring tremendous knowledge from their previous work experience. Interestingly, 22% of our current staff complement started as volunteers at Let’s Talk Science and have grown along with the organization!
Bonnie Schmidt, C.M., Ph.D., President & Founder
Dr. Bonnie Schmidt 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, well over 4 million youth and educators have been reached and an estimated 26,000 volunteers have been engaged with Let’s Talk Science. Supporting education transformation and developing creative, critical thinkers the organization has a bold plan to impact 5 million more youth by 2020.
Bonnie has been active in a variety of national and provincial organizations and initiatives. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors of Ontario Genomics and the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). She is also on the Governor General’s selection panel for the Meritorious Service Award and the MaRS Studio-Y National Advisory Panel. In June 2016, Bonnie was named Chair of the National Leadership Taskforce on Education & Skills for the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC).
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 the Life Sciences Ontario Community Service Award; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award; Top 40 Under 40; and Western’s Young Alumni Award.
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.
Marietta (Mars) Bloch, Ph.D., Associate Vice President Professional Learning
Dr. Marietta (Mars) Bloch is Associate VP Professional Learning, where she manages oversight of professional learning opportunities provided by Let's Talk Science to support early years and Kindergarten to Grade 12 educators. Mars works along with other Let's Talk Science teams to develop, organize and facilitate these opportunities such as workshops and Summer Institutes.
Prior to joining Let’s Talk Science in 2004, Mars has had extensive expertise in the formal educator sector as a teacher, consultant, coordinator, and resource and curriculum developer. Her leadership roles include Program Coordinator for the Toronto District School Board (Canada’s largest school board), Course Director at York University’s Faculty of Education (Mathematics, Science and Technology program), an Ontario representative for the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada’s (CMEC) development of the Pan-Canadian Protocol for Collaboration on School Curriculum (Science); Director of In-service for Science and Technology at Thompson Learning Nelson Publishing; and leading the CMEC working group in the development of the Pan-Canadian Science Assessment Program for Canadian Grade 8 students.
In 2002-03, Mars was president of the Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario. She is a founding co-chair of the Science & Technology Awareness Network, and is a recipient of the Marshal McLuhan Distinguished Teacher Award and of the Jack Bell Leadership Award in Science.
Her research interests are in the area of curriculum policy. In 2014, Mars completed her doctoral studies at Roehampton University in the U.K., researching the global influences, local political arenas and development processes of the Ontario Ministry of Education science curriculum policy documents from 1987 to 2008.
Sara Steers, Senior Director, Philanthropy
Sara Steers is Senior Director, Philanthropy, a role encompassing fund development, communications, relationship building and stewardship for Let’s Talk Science. The External Relations team includes experienced fund development and communications staff working to advance the organization’s mission across Canada.
Prior to joining Let’s Talk Science in 2004, she was an Associate Director in Alumni Relations and Development at The University of Western Ontario. A graduate of Western with an honours B.A. in psychology, she brings her experience in fund development and donor relations and communications, as well as promotion, event and information management. Sara has also completed a Diploma in Adult Education.
While at Western, she worked with hundreds of volunteers from Holland to Hong Kong and created the first alumni e-communications, web-based content management system and online communities for alumni. Sara’s fund development experience involved stewarding major donors, setting up the first online donations and developing Western’s Hong Kong Foundation and satellite alumni and development office.
In a volunteer role, Sara has held positions of the Board of the Canadian Council for the Advancement in Education-Ontario and chair the Privacy Legislation task force. Recently, she served for eight years in a governance role for Brescia University College Board of Trustees in London, Ontario.
Glenda Casimir, Manager, Community Development and Emerging Opportunities, Manager Tomatosphere™
As manager of community development and emerging opportunities, Glenda Casimir leads a cross-organizational team which focuses on integration of Let’s Talk Science programs, partnerships and new initiatives while ensuring key audiences are supported across all of programs. She is responsible for supporting volunteer management (including policies and standards), across the organization, supporting engagement of STEM professionals, building select partnerships and developing systems and procedures to support emerging opportunities for the organization. Glenda also holds strategic oversight for the Tomatosphere™ program.
Prior to joining Let’s Talk Science Glenda volunteered with Let’s Talk Science at Western University for four years, while completing her science degree. Since joining the organization she has held many roles, including coordinating volunteer programs, managing a regional office and assisting with human resources and alumni engagement. Glenda’s history with the organization provides valuable insight in project and volunteer management.
Cailin Clarke, Director of Planning and Organizational Development
Cailin Clarke’s role involves work plan oversight, organizational development, chairing the Operations Committee, and strategic lead for a number of cross-organizational programs and First Nations Métis and Inuit initiatives. She is a qualified teacher and has a great deal of experience in not-for-profit management. Prior to joining Let’s Talk Science, Cailin worked for the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority in communications and environmental education.
Cailin has had responsibility for a number of different areas at Let’s Talk Science including directing research and new program development, managing professional learning programs, business development and evaluation. She has presented at numerous conferences on behalf of Let’s Talk Science and is a contributor on several research publications.
Cailin has been a volunteer in her community as a Guiding leader and also as a soccer coach. In 2009, she was awarded the Dr. Bertha Wolfe award for her contributions as President of a local Board of Directors and in 2015 she was the recipient of an Ontario volunteer service award from the Government of Ontario for continuous years of service.
Isabel Deslauriers, Manager, Let’s Talk Science Outreach
Isabel Deslauriers manages the Let’s Talk Science Outreach program which consists of over 3,500 STEM volunteers from over 40 post-secondary institutions in Canada and from industry. Along with her team, she leads the efforts of over 100 local Let’s Talk Science Outreach Coordinators, including developing plans and budgets, offering training to our volunteers, developing the leadership skills of our coordinators, and making sure that efforts are aligned across the country.
Prior to joining Let’s Talk Science as a full-time staff member in 2008, Isabel studied electrical engineering. She conducted research on cryptography and data compression and worked on control systems in an industrial setting. Isabel decided to pursue engineering as a direct result of an early experience with a science outreach program, which is part of the reason she is so passionate about the impact that Let’s Talk Science Outreach can have on children and youth.
Isabel has been volunteering all her life, including as a leader with Scouts Canada, and with Let’s Talk Science Outreach during her time as a student at McGill University. She has received several awards for her volunteering work, including the 2005 National Volunteer award from Let’s Talk Science.
Jessica Johnston, Manager, Web Strategy & Development
Jessica Johnston oversees the development of strategic planning for Let’s Talk Science’s web presence. In her role, Jessica guides the internal web team while overseeing the design, implementation and project management of Let's Talk Science web programs, websites and online systems, often in conjunction with external partners.
Jessica brings over a decade and a half of education and online work experience to the Let’s Talk Science team. Previous to joining Let's Talk Science Jessica worked at Western University, both in a programming and project management. She continues to work and volunteer in areas related to education, programming and supporting women in technology, including teaching web strategy for Continuing Studies @ Western University, and helping direct operations for #PSEWEB, a national conference for post-secondary web professionals.
Nikki Morton, Manager, Finance, Administration & Information Systems
As manager, Finance, Administration & Information Systems, Nikki Morton is responsible for the overall financial management of Let’s Talk Science, including budget and projection analysis, preparation and presentation of financial statements, project budgeting, and general accounting. Administration & information system responsibilities include general administration, legal, facility management, and information systems.
With several years’ experience in public accounting, Nikki has gained vast knowledge in various industries, including health care, agricultural and manufacturing. Nikki has been active in the community by teaching a University level accounting course and volunteering as treasurer for non-profit organizations.
She graduated from the Ivey Business School from Western University with a Honors Business Administration and is a member of the Chartered Accountants’ Association of Western Ontario.
Scott Taylor, Interim Manager, CurioCity
Scott Taylor oversees the operations and strategic development of Let's Talk Science's CurioCity. In this role, Scott works with the CurioCity team to develop articles and career profiles written by STEM professionals and researchers, as well as Grade 8 – 12 curriculum-aligned educator resources. Scott attends and presents at educator conferences across Canada, and coordinates the CurioCity Educator Advisory Panel (CEAP), which brings together representatives from government and teacher associations to advise how CurioCity can support Canadian educators and students. Scott also consults on a number of children's television science programs, including Annedroids, Finding Stuff Out, Science Max, Sports Lab, and Zerby Derby.
Scott began working with Let's Talk Science in 2002, helping to develop the Wings of Discovery® Early Years Program, and has worked on many projects and programs for preschool through Grade 12 educators and students in the years since. After finishing graduate studies and teachers' college, and prior to working with Let's Talk Science, Scott worked in museum education. He is passionate about the importance of scientific literacy and critical thinking for all Canadians, and has particular interest in how science, technology, society, and the environment affect each other.