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 frontline case management for several years before becoming a coach and supervisor within the Social Services Division. She leads the Peterborough Social Services local office in promoting person-centered services using the Bridges Lens while modernizing the delivery of social assistance.
In 2012, Suzie began to introduce and promote the Bridges framework, starting with her local office in Peterborough. In 2015, she became a certified trainer and began expanding to the broader community. Shortly thereafter, she became a consultant with aha! Process and has since been providing Bridges workshops internationally, certifying new Bridges community trainers, and providing strategic consulting to support the implementation of the Bridges model at all levels. Suzie strongly believes that the Bridges Out of Poverty framework can and should inform our practices for improved relationships, outcomes, collaboration, and systems. She has been a presenter of the Bridges Out of Poverty model for thousands of teachers, employers, social service organizations, employment agencies, health agencies, landlords, leaders, community volunteers, and interested citizens. Suzie also provides coaching and consulting services for individuals and organizations to thrive, and she uses a people-centered, strength-based coaching approach.
- Organizational Relationship Systems Coach (ORSC)
- Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC)
- Certified Leadership Coach Practitioner (CCF)
- Certified Life and Executive Master Coach (CCF)
- Teacher/Trainer of Adult Learning, Fleming College
- Leadership Development Series, Fleming College
- Social Work, Fleming College
- aha! Process Certifications: Bridges Out of Poverty, Workplace Stability, Emotional Poverty, The R Rules, Bridges to Health and Healthcare, Getting Ahead
Suzie’s aha! moment
My first of many aha! moments initially happened in 2012 when Peterborough Social Services leaders organized a two-day Bridges Out of Poverty workshop for all the Central and Eastern Ontario Social Services offices. I was so profoundly moved on that first workshop day because I realized 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 2015, 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 community well-being.
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?
I love spending time with my best friend and husband of five years! We enjoy weekend trailer camping across Central Ontario, and we love to travel more broadly together as well. He is my biggest supporter of the Bridges work, and he encourages me with every step of this endeavor! I also love spending time with our combined five adult children and our beautiful two-year-old granddaughter, who is the light of our lives!
What are people saying about Suzie?
“This was the best training I have ever attended in 23 years of social work! Suzie kept me engaged all day long!”
“Very informative and interesting. Such passion. Will definitely implement 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 reevaluate 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, important topics were discussed to improve the way we understand and 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 frontline work and leadership. 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!”