Participatory Practice

An important thread that has run through my career is ensuring the full and authentic participation of people in addressing the issues affecting them—whether it’s health care, politics/democracy, education and/or philanthropy.

  • Authored two seminal publications (published by the Ford Foundation and GrantCraft) and several nationally distributed articles synthesizing participatory grantmaking’s theory and practice. 
  • Designed and oversaw one of the Ford Foundation’s first participatory grantmaking initiatives.   
  • Assessed Oak Foundation’s participatory philanthropy activities across seven programs internationally. Developed typology for large foundations to evaluate these activities. 
  • For the Case Foundation, wrote Citizens at the Center—a new framework integrating deliberative governance research/theory/practice with civic engagement that has since become a field standard. Applied framework by developing the country’s first open source participatory grantmaking program, which was highlighted in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Co-evaluator of the initiative, which became a model for other participatory philanthropy programs. 
  • For CFLeads, helped design and oversee a national initiative encouraging community foundations to incorporate resident engagement in their work.  Wrote framing paper and advised on strategy for a consensus-building process with 60+ philanthropic leaders that led to a national “call to action” and practice framework.   
  • For the Nathan Cummings Foundation, developed strategy for advancing the then-new concept of family-centered health care that advocated for people in underserved communities to be full partners in health systems. Convened field leaders and produced a consensus-based report with typologies and tenets that was featured at V.P. Al Gore’s policy conference and has since become standard practice.
  • For Carnegie Corporation of New York, created a new typology for the youth civic engagement field that melded traditional, experiential and participatory approaches and became a field standard. Co-authored Civic Mission of Schools, which offered data-based policy recommendations for better K-12 civic learning, and oversaw national deliberative/participatory process that led to it being endorsed by 50+ scholar and practitioner leaders nationwide. The most requested publication in the foundation’s history, the report was also cited in numerous news articles and cited as part of proposed federal legislation. 
  • Co-authored publications and developed framework for a new approach to leadership education in colleges/universities that emphasizes community problem-solving, collaboration, co-creation, and participatory governance.