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Dr. Dave Williams

Record-breaking Astronaut, Aquanaut & Leadership Expert

A true Canadian hero, astronaut Dr. Dave Williams is down-to-earth with a compelling and unique approach to peak performance, environmental stewardship, leadership, our futures and risk management. A former healthcare CEO, he’s received praise for his leadership in developing a culture where innovation, implementation of best practices, fiscal responsibility and patient-centered care is engrained in the fabric of the organizations he’s worked with.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Defying Limits: Lessons from the Edge of the Universe
In this presentation based off his book of the same name, Dave shares the events that have defined his life. He shows us that whether we’re gravity-defying astronauts or earth-bound terrestrials, we can all live an infinite, fulfilled life by relishing the value and importance of each moment. The greatest fear that we all face is not the fear of dying, but the fear of never having lived. Each of us is greater than we believe. Together, we can exceed our limits to soar farther and higher than we ever imagined.

Motivation & Peak Performance – Reaching for the Stars
Williams understands what is involved in achieving peak personal performance: endurance, persistence, and the ability to overcome obstacles. He believes success is built on a combination of effective judgment, skill, and knowledge. Williams shows you how to manage emotional energy for yourself and your team.

Risk Management – Don’t take chances; manage risks
Williams believes in a “no error strategy,” which involves defining methods that establish zero tolerance for mistakes. Relying on his experience as an emergency room doctor and as an astronaut, he knows the catastrophic consequences that can happen when lives are at stake.

Environmental Stewardship
From someone who has seen earth from a unique perspective, up high in space and from underwater as well as a scuba diver, Williams gives his thoughts on the importance of the effects of human habitation, the history of the human condition and our approach to planetary stewardship.

Health Care & Technology
Williams uses his clinical research in emergency medicine, early identification of trauma patients at high risk, and his work in Medical Robotics to discuss innovative technologies that assist the development of local and remote patient care.  

Platform Plus

Panelist/In Conversation


Order of Ontario
Ontario College of Family Physicians of Canada Award of Excellence

Officer to the Order of Canada

Waterstone Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures
Platinum and Gold Marcom Awards
Passion Capitalist Award

  • So riveting, dynamic and inspiring was his lecture that he received a standing ovation …With a message focused on science, empowerment, and the impact of collaborative efforts, the sense that anything is possible... Without question, he is the most captivating speaker I have ever heard, an observation expressed by many at the conference. His experiences and lessons left many with the inspiration and passion to make a difference in their communities.

    - Executive Director, Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation
  • Dr. Dave Williams opened our annual national conference with a compelling, funny, entertaining and poignant presentation that had our delegates talking in the corridors for days afterwards. His professionalism and incredible photos (that accompany his presentation) both took my breath away. A perfect start to this academic and networking conference of 800 delegates

    - Canadian Pharmacists Association
  • His presentation was spectacular… He accomplished exactly what I had hoped he would: our attendees arrived after four hours of intense technical information, needing a break and rejuvenation. They left Dr. Williams talk excited, ready for the next three hours, and with the sense that the world is a wondrous place that they could make better.

    - Program Chair, SWAC

Summary Profile

With a passion for healthcare and risk management, prior to entering the Canadian Space Agency’s program, Dr. Dave Williams worked as an emergency room doctor and later as director of emergency services at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Formerly the director for the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics, where he led a team dedicated to developing innovative technologies to assist the development of local and remote patient care. In July 2011 Williams became President and Chief Executive Officer of Southlake Regional Health Centre. In June 2012 Williams was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame.

Dave Williams joined an exclusive club when he blasted into space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, and again on Shuttle Endeavour where he walked out into the great beyond. Having also lived and worked in the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory, he became Canada’s first dual astronaut and aquanaut.

Williams is one of the NASA space program’s most accomplished astronauts, setting records in spacewalking. The veteran of two space shuttle missions has logged more than 687 hours in space, including three spacewalks, the highest number of spacewalks ever performed in a single mission. His work with NASA also continued on the ground when the space agency appointed him as director of the Space and Life Sciences Directorate, making Williams the first non-American to hold a senior management position.

@Hanigsberg @KafferJkaffer @TheAgenda Hear hear. All the administrators I know believe the opposite in fact. And ps… https://t.co/BjN8HoRBCU (2019-07-19 03:35:11)
@dpepe88 @Southlake_News Happy to collaborate. Developing a strong community of practice will be important for all… https://t.co/FgqQN5JkHs (2019-07-19 02:04:05)
Today's news is a testament to our amazing partners @LOFTCS @extendicare @CMHAYork @CHATSseniors @YorkRegionGovthttps://t.co/f3acNwr3zG (2019-07-19 01:36:38)