Chris Gates is a thought leader in the fields of democratic theory and practice and political and civic engagement. Gates is the former president of the Sunlight Foundation. He previously served as Executive Director of PACE, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement. PACE is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations and serves as a learning collaborative of American foundations that fund work in the fields of civic engagement and democratic practice. In this role Gates works within the philanthropic community to encourage conversation about how to strengthen democratic practice, with a particular emphasis on the role that information and social media can play in empowering citizens to become more engaged. Gates also speaks and teaches extensively, nationally and internationally, on the broad topic of civic engagement and democratic theory, including civic education, leadership training, community problem solving, political reform and democratic renewal.
He previously served for eleven years as President of the National Civic League (NCL), America’s oldest good government organization, founded in 1894 by Theodore Roosevelt. NCL helped create the field of public administration and was the originator of the council-manager form of local government. Before serving as President, Gates served for eight years as Vice President of NCL.
Gates was a member of the Civic Engagement Working Group of the Obama-Biden campaign in
2008 and is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He has previously served on the boards of the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship, the California Center for Civic Renewal and INDEPENDENT SECTOR. He has also served as cochair of the Saguaro Seminar, a research project based at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government working to find ways to build social capital in America. Gates is also involved in his own community, where he is the founder and Chair Emeritus of the Colorado Institute for Leadership Training and a regular instructor in leadership training programs throughout Colorado.
Gates received a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he studied the interaction between the public and private sectors, and an honors degree in economics from the University of Colorado. He also studied political economics at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law degree by Elizabethtown College in 2006.