Jennifer Flanagan – WOMAN of ACTION™



A Celebration of Women™

is elated to Celebrate the Life of one of Canada’s innovative women leaders. This powerhouse has co-founded a charitable organization that engages Canadian youth in the fields of science and technology.




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Jennifer Flanagan

Jennifer Flanagan is the co-founder and President and CEO of Actua, a national charitable organization that engages Canadian youth in inspiring and innovative science and technology experiences. Through camps, classroom workshops, clubs, and community outreach, Actua’s programs reach a quarter of a million youth annually.

jennifer b and wShe has served on the boards of the Girls Action Foundation (founding member and treasurer, (1999–2009); the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (2003–2006); and the Science and Technology Awareness Network (founding member and treasurer, 2004–2010). She lives in Ottawa with her husband, Michael Plamondon, owner and President at Origin Studios and their daughter.

Jennifer has also volunteered on numerous other committees, organizing groups and boards including Wired Women, Pathmakers, UNESCO-L’Oréal For Women in Science Program, Virtual Ventures, Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation, and the Michael Smith Awards.

Over the past decade, Jennifer has led the development of Actua’s national barrier-breaking programs, which engage Aboriginal youth, girls and young women, youth living in rural and remote communities and other at-risk youth. To accomplish this work, Jennifer partners with leading corporate sector companies, governments and other non-profits.

Jennifer has served on the boards of several local, national and international groups that are committed to furthering educational opportunities for youth and for women. In 2007, Jennifer was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and in 2011 she was the recipient of a Y Women of Distinction Award (Education and Training) and was named one of Ottawa’s Top Forty Under 40.

Her interest in developing youth science and technology programs began in 1993 while attending UNB, where she became involved in the university’s summer science and engineering program for children, Worlds UNBound. She subsequently served as the New Brunswick provincial director of the Innovators in the Schools program, where she created a province-wide science club for girls.

In 1997, she co-founded Actua to deliver science and technology programming to youth. The organization engages more than 200,000 young people in over 450 communities annually and has a particular focus on reaching those who are typically underrepresented and under served in science and technology, including girls, Aboriginals, underprivileged youth, and youth living in remote communities.

Jennifer Flanagan has been invited to present across the country and internationally on issues relation to science education and youth engagement, speaking to groups and audiences ranging from the Women’s Executive Network, Science and Technology Awareness Network and Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation to the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists, and Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation to the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.

She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Management from McGill University in Montreal.

Who We Are

jennifer actua missionActua is a registered charity with a twenty-year track record of success in providing hands-on, interactive education enrichment experiences in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) to Canadian youth aged 6 to 16 years. Our strength is the scope of our national reach and geographic footprint. We deliver programming in every province and territory, reaching 225,000 young Canadians in 450-500 communities nationwide each year.

Our focus is on engaging youth who are typically underrepresented and under served in STEM. Actua invests heavily in breaking down barriers to science literacy and is a national leader in the development and delivery of customized programming for Aboriginal youth, girls, underprivileged youth, and youth living in remote and inner city communities.


Actua’s mission is to provide life-changing experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) so that ALL youth can be inspired to achieve their potential and fulfill their critical role in the world.


We envision a country in which every young Canadian, regardless of background, ability or socio-economic status, can feel inspired and empowered through STEM. The young people we reach today will become the role models for future generations. They will build tomorrow’s dynamic, competitive and diverse workforce and will help make Canada a global leader in science literacy and innovation.


actuaLeona Aglukkaq, the Minister of Health and the Minister Responsible for the North and Jennifer Flanagan, CEO and President of Actua were in Iqaluit to announce $600,000 over three years to support Actua’s Science and Technology camps. The investment will allow 9,000 students to attend the camps.

Actua has been helping young Canadians develop awareness, interest and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for two decades. It all started in 1988, in Kingston, when the first student-run engineering and science camp for children was delivered at Queen’s University. Word of the ground-breaking initiative’s success spread, and other Canadian universities quickly followed suit, delivering similar programs based on the original model.

The leaders of the programs – engineering undergraduate students – began collaborating, sharing ideas and best practices. Through these discussions, they envisioned a national coordinating body to foster the growth and stretch the reach of their programs. The idea caught the attention of Industry Canada in the early nineties and with its original financial backing, Actua was established in 1993.

Today, Actua is a national organization, reaching youth in every province and territory. Our goal – to build science literacy and confidence in all youth – remains the same. What has changed is the national reach of our programs and the breadth of our initiatives. Actua now annually engages 225,000 youth from coast to coast to coast, no matter their geographic location, socio-economic situation, ability or gender. Armed with more knowledge, research and resources, we continue to increase our ability to break down barriers to youth engagement in STEM.

We continue to work with other leaders in the field as we strive to develop new, dynamic curriculum that resonates with youth. Over the years, Actua has become a recognized and celebrated leader – locally, nationally, and internationally – in the delivery of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programming for youth.

Outreach and Barrier-Breaking >

Our Approach

Actua works towards ensuring ALL youth have the opportunity to feel empowered by science, no matter their geographic location, socio-economic situation, ability or gender. We know there are challenges ahead in order to achieve this goal. However, with over twenty years of experience behind us, and a strong network of members, coupled with excellent partnerships with other key stakeholder organizations, we are well positioned to face these challenges head-on.

jennifer actua dentistryWe are committed to connecting with youth in every corner of our large and diverse country. We work tirelessly to develop innovative programming that speaks to all young Canadians and connects science to what is important in their lives. This means tailoring each initiative to the community in which it is delivered. We collaborate with our trusted network of members to deliver life-changing, hands-on science activities to young Canadians.

Our members go above and beyond the call of duty, making it a priority to engage youth in rural and remote communities and to partner with other youth-serving organizations to broaden their youth audiences to include underprivileged youth, at-risk youth, New Canadians, and other marginalized youth populations. In addition to supporting the barrier-breaking programs offered by our members, we also mobilize our Outreach Team to engage youth in communities and/or regions not yet served by our members.

We are proud to be a leader in pushing through the obstacles that stand between youth and science literacy. Our unique outreach programs – the National Aboriginal Outreach Program, the National Girls Program, our Go Where Kids Are Program for at-risk youth and our initiatives to engage youth in The North – have been incredibly well received by communities across Canada and have grown exponentially for the past several years.

Outreach and Barrier-Breaking >

National Girls Program

jennifer actua girlsActua’s National Girls Program was established in 1998 to increase the participation of girls in our co-ed camps. In a larger context, it addresses the known gap in female engagement in STEM studies and careers.

The program includes high-quality, interactive programs in all-girl environments including camps, clubs, conferences, career fairs and special events with female mentors.

Our research on gender issues and the impact on girls’ self-esteem and learning styles set the groundwork during the development of the National Girls Program.

Activities are designed to increase girls’ confidence, dispel stereotypes surrounding women in science, engineering and technology and instill a positive attitude towards these fields of study.

We want to see girls pursue careers in these areas, without hesitation and with confidence.

As with our other programs, mentorship is paramount. When youth connect to an individual they trust, knowledge-sharing is far more effective.

In the twelve years since we first launched the program, Actua has successfully reached over 48,000 girls in Canada through intensive, high-impact, all-girl experiences.




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A Celebration of Women™

welcomes this woman leaders into our global alumni with open arms, looking forward to future collaboration in the betterment of the lives through education celebrating empowerment and self-sustainability for all women and girls.


Brava Jennifer!



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