Suzie Johnson-Smith

Who is Suzie?

Suzie Johnson-Smith of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, has been working in human services since 1992, primarily supporting low-income people in need of financial and employment assistance. She provided front-line case management for 12 years before becoming a coach and supervisor within the social services division. She leads the local office in promoting person-centered service while modernizing the delivery of social assistance. In 2012, Suzie began to introduce and promote the Bridges framework starting with her local social assistance office. In 2016, as a certified trainer, she began expanding to the broader community. Suzie strongly believes that the Bridges out of Poverty framework can and should inform our practices for improved relationships and outcomes. Suzie has been a presenter of the Bridges Out of Poverty model for teachers, employers, social services organizations, health agencies, landlords, community volunteers, and interested citizens.

Suzie’s credentials

  • Certified Life and Executive Coach, CCF Canada
  • Teacher/Trainer of Adult Learning, Fleming College
  • Social Service Worker Diploma, Fleming College
  • aha! Process Certifications: Bridges Out of Poverty, Workplace Stability, Emotional Poverty, The R Rules, Bridges to Health and Healthcare, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World, Getting Ahead While Getting Out, Getting Ahead in the Workplace

Suzie’s aha! moment

My first of many aha! moments happened in 2012 when we organized a two-day Bridges Out of Poverty workshop for all of Central Eastern Ontario social services offices. I was so profoundly moved that first workshop day, realizing that this was the missing piece of my career puzzle. I had the sudden awareness that I had been carrying (and sometimes imposing) my lens to the people we served, which had unknowingly been interfering with relationships and outcomes. I returned to work with new enthusiasm to make a difference with our clients, staff, overall service delivery, and community. Developing an internal working group of champions to implement the constructs within our social services division was our first step. Then, in 2016, we began offering Getting Ahead, and I became a Bridges certified trainer. It is such an incredible experience building a Bridges community and engaging all sectors and classes to work together for overall improved quality of life.

Suzie’s passions

My passions are my incredible family and supporting people to learn, thrive, and grow. I feel so passionate and blessed to be living out my career dreams and helping to facilitate aha! moments for others.

Suzie’s best training

My best training moments happen when I see transformational changes in thinking and perceptions right before my very eyes. During one community Bridges session, an attendee was very openly negative about people who are struggling in poverty/instability. At the end of the session, he told the group: “I will be much more cautious of my bias, and I apologize for my statements at the beginning of the day.” His evaluation form was even more hopeful: “This was the most powerful presentation I have ever had. It was a very humbling experience with a lot of takeaway information for much-needed further self-reflection.”

What does Suzie do for fun?

Having remarried in 2018, I love spending time with my new husband! We are enjoying our newest venture in tent-trailer camping and love to travel more broadly together as well. He is my biggest supporter of the Bridges work and encourages me with every step of this endeavor! I also love spending time with my (grown) amazing children whenever they can squeeze me into their busy schedules!

What are people saying about Suzie?

“Very informative and interesting. Such passion. Will definitely be implementing in my future career.”

“Suzie did an amazing job. She is very passionate about Bridges, which is enlightening and empowering. Loved the stories and humour throughout!”

“Fantastic presentation! Suzie’s passion showed in all aspects of the material. It really inspired me to re-evaluate my practices. Flow was fantastic and kept me interested!”

“Great presentation, love your passion. I did have many aha! moments.”

“Just totally excellent! Suzie is so engaging! Want more of this! Really important stuff!”

“Excellent workshop, really important topics were discussed to improve the way we serve our clients. Excellent and engaging presenter—I kept interested all day long!”

“Thank you, very helpful info, allows me to see things from different perspectives.”

“Amazing workshop! Engaging, and offers new perspective on front-line work. This WILL make a difference for my clients!”

“Really hit home…a lot of self-reflection. More self-reflection will be had at home to build on strategies. Wonderful and engaging presenter!”