Matt Leighninger

Matt Leighninger leads Public Agenda’s work in public engagement and democratic governance and directs the Yankelovich Center for Public Judgment.

Previously, Matt was the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC), an alliance of major organizations (including Public Agenda) and leading scholars working in the field of deliberation and public participation. The DDC represents more than 50 foundations, nonprofit organizations, and universities, collaborating to support research activities and advance democratic practice, in North America and around the world.

Over the last twenty years, Matt has worked with public participation efforts in over 100 communities, in 40 states and four Canadian provinces. Matt serves on the boards of, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2USA), The Democracy Imperative, and the Participatory Budgeting Project, and is a Senior Associate for Everyday Democracy.

Matt has written for publications such as The Huffington PostChronicle of PhilanthropyThe Christian Science MonitorThe National Civic ReviewPublic Management, Zocalo Public Square, and Public Administration Review. His first book, The Next Form of Democracy (2006), is a firsthand account of the wave of democratic innovation that emerged in the 1990s and 2000s. In May 2015, Wiley-Blackwell released Public Participation in 21st Century Democracy, which Matt co-authored with Tina Nabatchi; this book is a comprehensive look at participation theory, history, and practice, and explains how we can transition from temporary engagement projects to stronger democratic infrastructure.

In the last two years, Matt led a working group that produced a model ordinance on public participation; and developed a new tool, Text, Talk, and Act, that combined online and face-to-face participation as part of President Obama’s National Dialogue on Mental Health. He has also assisted in the development of Participedia, the world’s largest online repository of information on public engagement. Matt holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University.

Areas of expertise: public engagement, deliberative democracy, civic tech.