Don Lenihan

Don Lenihan

Senior Associate

613-238-7858 Ext: 227


Dr. Don Lenihan is a Senior Associate at the Public Policy Forum. He is an internationally recognized expert on democracy, public engagement, open government and service delivery.

Don recently served as Chair of the Open Government Engagement Team for the Government of Ontario. The nine-member team consulted with citizens and experts across the province, and provided recommendations to the Minister of Government Services to make Ontario a leader in open government, especially in the areas of open dialogue and collaboration.

He also recently completed an 18-month, province-wide public engagement initiative for the Government of Ontario to renew the Ontario Condominium Act 1998, which governs the province’s 600,000 condominiums.

Don’s latest book, Rescuing Policy: The Case for Public Engagement, was published in January 2012. It provides an introduction to 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 are central themes in Don’s work. Over the last decade, he has been closely involved in a series of innovative projects. From 2009 to 2012, he led the Public Engagement Project, a research and capacity-building project involving some 500 public servants from nine federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, as well as from the Government of Australia.

He was a senior advisor on the development of the Canadian Sport Policy, endorsed by federal, provincial and territorial ministers on June 27, 2012 in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. He worked closely with the Government of Nunavut on its Poverty Reduction Project, leading to the creation of the Anti-Poverty Roundtable and legislation to support it. He also advised all three levels of government in Australia to test a “community approach” to improving service delivery. In 2007-2008, at the request of Premier Shawn Graham, he served as advisor to the Government of New Brunswick on public engagement.

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, including collaboration, accountability, privacy, and service delivery.

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 public service delivery. He served for four years as the Director of Research at the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and was Director of Research at the Network on the Constitution and edited its publication on national unity and constitutional issues.

Don has over 25 years of experience as a project leader, writer, speaker, senior government advisor, trainer and facilitator. He has developed and led research and consultation projects involving senior public servants, academics, elected officials, journalists, and members of the private and third sectors across Canada. He has authored numerous books, articles, studies, and columns. He earned his PhD in political theory from the University of Ottawa.