Dr. Denise O’Connor is a highly regarded academic, policy advisor and group facilitator who knows how to create “safe spaces” for important dialogue to happen. Denise holds a PhD in Public Policy and her policy expertise is in system dynamics, stakeholder engagement processes, health care systems and the aging population.
Denise has contributed to a number of high level research and design projects for Acuity Options clients, putting her exceptional analytical and systems-based thinking and creativity to work. Most recently, Denise helped to design a ground-breaking relationship measurement when Acuity Options contracted Professor Emeritus James Grunig, leading expert on communications excellence and two-way relationships, to provide assistance.
She is also President of Moving Perspective, where she applies process design and facilitation services with research and evaluation methods to align an organization’s core values and structures with purpose and vision. It is her assertion that it is possible to create the organizational culture you want - preferably one that is creative and sustainable - by building such alignment.
Most recently, she has worked both for the province and locally in the area of creating age-friendly communities. From 2010 to 2011, she was also the research director and lead facilitator for a public consultation project for the City of Hamilton (Citizens’ Forum on Area Rating of Property Tax). Denise has taught at McMaster University in the Departments of Political Science (Politics of Restructuring) and Health, Aging and Society (Health, the State and Civil Society) and at the University of Toronto (Scarborough)
She began her career as a market research analyst with Braun and returned to graduate school in the late 1990s to pursue the field of public policy and administration. Her studies led to her current research and practical interest in how organizational change happens at both system and individual levels. While her field of expertise is health care, her understanding of drivers of and resistance to change are applicable across all sectors. Denise’s years of practical experience combined with her academic training and extensive reading of leadership and organizational change literature have resulted in a highly disciplined approach that takes lived experience and implicitly grounds it in theory in a way that both enhances her analysis and informs her perspective on next steps.
Denise is also a trained facilitator with a passion for moving clients from analysis to action. She uses highly participatory methods that help people put aside their self-interest, surface collective knowledge and unleashes the capacity of a group to imagine something new. Her understanding of specific systems, and - more generally – complex (human) systems, helps her to design processes and formulate questions that steers group work towards actionable results.