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Dr. Dave Williams

Speaker Exclusive

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Record-breaking Astronaut, Aquanaut & Leadership Expert

A true Canadian hero, Dr. Dave Williams is an emergency room specialist, former hospital CEO, aquanaut, astronaut – and the only non-American to hold a directorship at NASA. He has extensive experience leading organizations where uncontrolled risks can have significant consequences; those lessons are captured in keynotes and workshops, offering unique images to help tell the many stories he shares. In his presentations, Dave addresses topics such as risk management, leadership, resilience, team building & team work, motivation, and health & wellbeing. 

Keynote Speeches

Virtual Keynotes & Webinars

Astronaut Dave Williams appears live from his professional home studio to your screens for your next virtual conference, meeting or webinar, to bring his experienced insights into Leadership, Risk Management, Healthcare, Inspiring by Defying Limits, and more. He’ll customize to your group, includes incredible visuals from outerspace and will engage in Q&A.

See a sampling here: Astronaut Dr Dave Williams on Resilience
Astronaut Dave Williams virtual presentation

Virtual Presentation - On Defying Limits & Overcoming Isolation

Invite Dave Williams – a medical doctor, astronaut, & aquanaut – into your home or remote office. From outer-space to hospital frontlines, Dave provides lessons on defying limits and making the most of each day. See his incredible images from space, learn how to train like an astronaut, and improve your well-being with simple daily actions.

See a sampling here: Astronaut Dave Williams virtual presentation

Building Agility, Controlling Risk and Building Thriving Organizations

Change is a global force that has brought with it unpredictability and uncertainty that has challenged many organizations. It is how organizations respond to change, how they control risk and they build capacity that determines their agility and ability to succeed. Resilient organizations are based on an environment of continuous learning and vibrant cultures where teamwork thrives. Controlling risk is critical for success in the aerospace and healthcare sectors where the lessons from data-driven decision making, speaking up, and working collaboratively benefits many other sectors. The best way to predict the future is to shape it though knowledge and embrace it with agility. Learn from the experiences of award-winning CEO, Dr. Dave Williams, who has experienced first-hand and successfully led large organizations to thrive in high-stakes environments.

The NASA Way: Lessons on Leadership, Teamwork, and Corporate Culture

Space exploration is as much a story of leadership and teamwork as it is a story of exploration and discovery. 

As the former director of the Space and Life Sciences Directorate, Dr. Dave Williams will share how NASA recovered from tragedy and adversity, and how it developed a culture of competency that continues to attract the best and brightest.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leadership insights and important principles for leading in environments where outcomes are critical to success.
  • The importance of speaking up and listening up in achieving organizational excellence.
  • Controlling risk.
  • Strategies to build resilience and peak performing teams. 
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.

Education: Exploration Enhanced Curriculum

In today’s social media world, where flat earth, hoax lunar landing, and “Anti-Vax” theories run rampant, the importance of scientific literacy has never been more evident. Building students capacity to critically assess information is more important than ever before. The challenge for educators is doing so in a way that’s engaging for young minds. Dr. Dave Williams believes the answer can be found in enhancing the standardized curriculum with STEAM concepts.

In this presentation, Dave shares experiences from his career in outer space and underwater to create exciting connections between exploration and STEAM curriculum. This session provides an overview of different techniques and resources educators can use to energize their classroom with a focus on STEAM concepts. These techniques will help educators in their efforts to foster trust in scientific processes.

Audiences will learn:
• How to incorporate exploration science into the classroom to complement curriculum objectives.
• The best ways to access space resource material for educators.
• Techniques for delivering scientific concepts in a manner that excites the imagination of children.

Motivation & Peak Performance: Reaching for the Stars

Dave 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. Dave shows you how to manage emotional energy for yourself and your team.


Healthcare & Technology

Dave 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.  

Custom Presentations

Dr. Dave Williams also offers customized presentations on environmental stewardship and more. View a full list of his presentations here.

Audience reviews:

  • Dr. Dave was amazing, captivating and very informative. Message he conveyed relayed very much to our audience. He was professional, humorous, humble and overall extremely educational. We would ask him back in a heartbeat. - Manager, Meetings and Events | RBC Insurance
  • 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

Speaker Biography

With a passion for leadership, healthcare and risk management, prior to entering the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut program, Dr. Dave Williams worked as an emergency physician and later as director of emergency services at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Dave 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. The veteran of two space shuttle missions, he has logged more than 687 hours in space, including three spacewalks, the highest number of spacewalks performed by a Canadian astronaut. Between his two space missions he was an executive with NASA when the agency appointed him as director of the Space and Life Sciences Directorate, making Dave the first and only non-American to hold a senior management position.

Today, Dave is the CEO of Leap Biosystems, an innovator in the development of new augmented reality technologies and AI-enhanced diagnostic devices. His commitment to leading change in healthcare has taken him into a number of different leadership positions including Director of the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics, President and Chief Executive Officer of Southlake Regional Health Centre and Chair of the Ontario Health Innovation Council.

In addition, Dave is a cancer survivor – he lost his pilot’s license and ability to be an astronaut as he struggled through the disease…then he earned it all back and flew for a 2nd time in space after making his recovery.

Dave is the bestselling author of a series of children’s books, a memoir, Defying Limits: Lessons from the Edge of the Universe, and his newest book is Leadership Moments from NASA: Achieving the Impossible.  He has unmatched experience with high risk and peak performance environments and knows the importance of creating psychological safety environments, while creating efficient systems, and a culture of innovation.

He is a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame and is the recipient of six honourary degrees, the Order of Canada, and the Order of Ontario.

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