Bonnie Braun was born, raised and educated in Missouri. The Midwest vantage point framed her understanding of the diversity of people and perspectives. She was introduced to ideas and ways of living “back East, out West, up North and down south.” Over the years, her positions with Extension in multiple states and at the USDA took her to those areas where she experienced life in all four geographic regions. She moved from living on a farm, to small towns, to suburbs and cities.
In 4-H, she was introduced to judging and stating reasons for the judgment. Her experience in 4-H judging contests led to an interest in how people make decisions. With degrees in education and an emphasis on family economics and family relations, she came to the conclusion that decision-making was central to individual, family and community living.
Bonnie’s teaching and research focus on public and private decision-making. Through Extension, she helps individuals, groups and public policy makers understand issues, impacts, imperatives and options for action. She teaches professionals and the public how put “the public” into public policy.
She created a consumer education curriculum for youth ages 9-19 to learn how to making informed consumer decisions. She’s a leader in evaluation of consumer education materials and curriculum. She teaches and conducts research about health literacy—the ability to get, understand and use health information. She is currently leading a multi-state Extension team in developing and testing a financial and health literacy curriculum titled Smart Choice for Health Insurance.
Bonnie says, “Focusing on decision making is my way of strengthening our democracy. The likelihood that a decision will be a good one increases when consumers, citizens and policy makers are informed and skilled in the art of choice making for themselves, their families, businesses, community, the state and nation.”
Bonnie Braun, Ph.D.
University of Maryland Extension family policy specialist