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Dr. Don Lenihan is a Senior Associate at the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa, Canada. He is an internationally recognized expert on democracy and public engagement, accountability and service delivery. From 2009 – January 2012, he led the Public Engagement Project (PEP), a research and capacity-building project involving some 500 public servants from nine federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments, and the Government of Australia.
Don’s latest book, Rescuing Policy: The Case for Public Engagement, was published in January 2012 and is an introduction to the field of public engagement, as well as a blueprint for change, and a sustained argument for the need to rethink the public policy process.
Collaboration and public engagement have been central themes in Don’s work over the years. He recently co-authored “Co-Design: A New Service Vision for the Government of Australia,” with Lynelle Briggs, former CEO of Medicare Australia, which appeared in the January 2011 issue of Public Administration Today, Australia’s leading public administration journal. The paper develops a “community approach” to service-delivery, based on Don’s approach to public engagement. As a result, the Government of Australia developed a pilot project involving all three orders of government to test the model. Don is served as a senior advisor and writer on the project.
From April 2007–April 2008, at the request of Premier Shawn Graham, Don served as Advisor to the Government of New Brunswick on Public Engagement, where he developed and ran several pilot projects and helped the government develop its policy on public engagement. Prior to that, Don was President and CEO of the Crossing Boundaries National Council, a non-partisan group of senior public servants and elected officials from all 10 provincial governments and the Government of Canada. Under Don’s direction, the Council published over 40 studies and articles on key governance issues, such as collaboration, accountability, privacy and service delivery, many of which were written by Don.
Before assuming his role in Crossing Boundaries, Don founded the Centre for Collaborative Government, a not-for-profit think tank to promote research and experimentation on collaborative and community-based approaches to policy development and the delivery of public services. He served for four years as the Director of Research at the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and, prior to that, worked for The Network on the Constitution as Director of Research and Editor of The Network/Le Réseau, a national publication on national unity and constitutional issues.
Don has over 25 years of experience in the field as a project leader, writer, speaker, senior government advisor, trainer and facilitator. Throughout his career, he has developed and led many research and consultation projects involving senior public servants, academics, elected officials, journalists and members of the private and third sectors from across the country. He is the author of numerous articles, studies and books, a former columnist with the Hill Times newspaper in Ottawa, and is a regular columnist for iPolitics. He earned his PhD in political theory from the University of Ottawa.