Merna Schmidt

Change Agent, Speaker, Psychology Instructor

I have a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology, and have had extensive experience in both local and global initiatives to help change the world. I have been fortunate to have lived, worked, and volunteered in South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Jordan, Albania, and Kosovo. While overseas I worked at a human rights organization, in a summer day camp, in an orphanage, in refugee camps, and in schools. I also worked as a post-war mental health worker, set up a solidarity children's program, taught training seminars to teachers and parents, and served as a peace activist.

These experiences led me to develop a few initiatives. At a university where I have been a Psychology Instructor, Counsellor, and Program Advisor, I set up a Global Education Fund. Since its inception in 2002, 67 educational projects have been supported in 32 countries. I also established a volunteer abroad program in South Africa that ran successfully for three years, and then set up a non-profit organization in Canada that partnered with an amazing South African group working in a very impoverished rural area. We raised funds to build homes, and put in a borehole and a large water tank so a community garden could be established.

Because of my international efforts I was chosen as a 'Global Hero' by Verge Magazine, and nominated for the Lewis Perinbaum Award in International Development.

At home in Canada I tried to build community in my neighbourhood by starting neighbour get-togethers, shared my large garden where neighbours could plant, organized a neighbour volunteer event, and started annual Christmas carolling at a senior's nursing home in our neighbourhood.

I have been a speaker at various events, including at Rotary Clubs, the United Nations Association of Canada, the University of Alberta International Week, Grant MacEwan University's Global Awareness Week, and various organizations and churches.