Healthier Democracies

Healthier Democracies, an innovative initiative by Public Agenda, works to strengthen American democracy by sharing best practices and innovations from around the world. The project identifies promising global case studies of community engagement—15 in total—and offers recommendations for American public officials. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the initiative lays out a path to equitable, deliberative and collaborative relationships between governments and the communities they serve. The views expressed here don't necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Findings, Resources, and More

Through the breadth of its 15 global case studies, the Healthier Democracies project has led to a broad range of analyses, reports, and resources. Click the buttons below for more information:

Introduction to Healthier Democracies

  • This document gives a broad overview of the scope, purpose and work of the project.

Global Case Studies

  • The Healthier Democracies project studied public engagement systems from 15 locations around the world, and, accordingly, each study has its own report with key learnings and takeaways.

Lessons Learned

  • While each of the 15 case studies features its own individual report with in-depth findings and analysis, this document gives an overview of key takeaways from the project as a whole.

The Participatory Governance Index

  • The Participatory Governance Index (PGI) is a ground-breaking new assessment tool designed to help public officials and government workers understand the many parts that contribute to a strong, functioning participatory engagement system. It also has an accompanying User Guide.


  • This is a compendium of key terms and concepts discussed throughout Healthier Democracies documents.

Jeni Arndt, Mayor of Fort Collins, Colorado

Rosie Berger, Former Wyoming State Representative (R)

David Blount, Mississippi State Senator (D)

Tanisha Briley, City Manager, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Tom Carroll, Village Manager, Silverton, Ohio

Misty Mason Freeman, Director of the Legislative Policy and Research Office, Oregon State Legislature

Maria Hadden, 49th Ward Alderwoman, City of Chicago

Stacy Householder, Director, Leadership and International Programs, National Conference of State Legislators

Nigel Jacob, Co-Chair, Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics

Manish Jani, IT Director and Deputy Director, Colorado Legislative Council

Valerie Lemmie, Director of Exploratory Research, Kettering Foundation

Doug Linkhart, President, National Civic League

Pete Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin

Claire Woodall-Vogg, Executive Director, City of Milwaukee Election Commission


Azucena Morán

Senior Research Fellow

Parisa Parsa

Project Leader

Erin McNally

Research Associate

Melisa Ross

Senior Fellow - Healthier Democracies Project

Mikayla Townsend

Public Engagement Associate

Sara Clarke-De Reza

Fellow for Research and Engagement