Kaela is Head of Democratic Innovation at Involve, a role focused on developing the theory and practice of public engagement and new forms of democratic participation.
Kaela came to Involve after working for 13 years in the community planning and capacity building sector within local government in Scotland. Here she developed a grounded understanding of the practical, political and policy work required to translate the desire to involve citizens in the decisions that affect them into processes that are meaningful and effective for communities, public sector bodies and political administrations alike.
Since joining Involve in 2015, and founding Involve’s office in Scotland, Kaela has led on a wide range of engagement and research projects, with a particular focus on how to involve the public in dialogue and deliberation around complex and technical issues. Key projects have included:
- research and engagement work for the Consumer Futures Unit (part of Citizens Advice Scotland) looking at how deliberative engagement has been used across the regulated industries, developing an options appraisal framework for planning future engagement, and undertaking a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of different methods for involving consumers in energy, water and postal matters;
- stakeholder engagement to help frame the Scottish Government’s consultation on fracking;
- working with local authorities to explore the ‘public benefits’ associated with data sharing;
- providing training and mentoring to NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Tayside, Parliamentary Committee Clerks and Scottish Government departments on planning effective engagement;
- and conducting a series of participatory workshops with the public to help inform the recommendations of the Scottish Government’s Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy.
Kaela is an experienced facilitator, public engagement practitioner and trainer and has a Masters in Community Education from Edinburgh University (2011) which explored tensions between the political drive for greater community empowerment and the realities of supporting communities to use these opportunities well.
Kaela is based in Edinburgh.