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Find your Community Breakthrough

About Paul 

Belief in the power of community is at the heart of Paul’s life and work. He brings the joy of belonging to all that he does. He has been called a “master practitioner” as he supports communities move beyond individualism and isolation and into a deepened process of relationship-building that results in whole community change.

As a global leader and award-winning author on issues of community engagement and change, Paul is the Co-founder of Tamarack Institute and for 20 years was the CEO/Co-CEO. He is the founder and was the director of Vibrant Communities a national network of nearly 500 cities and communities ending poverty, deepening community, building youth futures and advancing climate transitions. Prior to that Paul founded and served as the CEO of Community Opportunities Development Association (CODA). CODA was awarded the distinguished United Nations Best Practices (Top 40) award for their community economic development work in the Waterloo Region of Canada.  Paul’s newest venture is founding BE Community Ltd., a consulting company whose mission is to support communities to discover and realize breakthrough community change.

Paul is the author of five books including two best sellers (Deepening Community and Community Conversations).  His latest book Breakthrough Community Change is a practical guide to whole community change and will be available April 2023.  

Paul holds an M.A. in Leadership and in 2020 was selected as the Arts Alumni Achievement Award recipient at the University of Waterloo Canada's top innovation university. He is a global faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) and a senior fellow of Ashoka, the world's largest network of social innovators. Paul was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2019.

 Paul grew up as the son of refugees that worked together to survive and thrive. This experience is what made him deeply curious about and engaged in ideas that cause people to work together for the common good.

 View his Full Profile on LinkedIn

Logo - BE Community

Paul's Approach:

Paul believes that it is through strong personal relationships that individuals can become effective leaders and change agents for their local community. He understands that collaboration is hard work and that many teams struggle for a long time to form and to achieve impact. Paul relies on expertise and years of experience to provide practical, hands-on support with the goal of making community engagement easier and more effective. He provides support as a coach, consultant and community conversations facilitator. 

Coaching -  Paul's goal is to accelerate the impact of teams by:

  • Making it easier and quicker to form your startup team and move your community to the common agenda phase
  • Supporting your team through the complexity of developing a common agenda with your community
  • Introducing some of the latest strategies that unite communities and to collaborate across sectors. 
  • Supporting you to write, launch and implement a community plan and track impact
  • Supporting you to form and operate a backbone governance approach.

Consulting -  Paul's goal is to provide practical hands on support:

  • Working with you as you engage your team and community in formulating ideas for big impact (future planning).
  • Working with you to develop and supporting you to implement an asset-based - community engagement strategy.
  • Working with you to develop a case for support and prospecting when  fundraising for large scale collaborative change.

Community Conversations Facilitator - Big change requires big conversations. Paul supports you through the entire process.

  • To work with you to envision the outcome of the community conversations you need to host and help you decide who should be invited.
  • To share with you engagement techniques so that when you invite people  they will come.
  • To plan the conversation agenda and present various conversation techniques that will make the conversations more interesting and engaging.
  • To help you select and coach your local facilitator or
  • To be available onsite to facilitate the conversation.
  • To work with you after the conversation for documentation and sense making.

Paul would love to hear your communities story and to seek breakthrough change together.

Connect with Paul for a free introductory session


Paul on screen with audience behind-1

How We do Our Work

Online: Paul has over a decade of experience supporting teams online. Using common technology and tested coaching techniques, organizations find the online experience both efficient and effective. 

In Person: For specific events or retreats the most effective approach is to be there in-person. Paul travels throughout Canada, the United States and selectively around the world to support communities.

One Year Retainer: When a community is embarking on a large-scale change initiative, or an organization is implementing a community engagement or fundraising strategy they find it useful to engage me on retainer for a year. Typically we meet as a team monthly and I provide 8 hours a month hand's on support.

Paul teaching

Areas of Expertise

My belief is that you are the real experts as you know your community and have the relationships needed for an impact. My expertise comes from many years of supporting communities. I have done the hard work of uniting communities and realizing impact. Here are some areas of work where I have the most experience.

  • Coaching Cities/towns that are implementing a collaborative and wanting breakthrough change for their community

  • Facilitating/hosting Community Conversations

  • Population Level Community Engagement Consulting

  • Collaborative Leadership coaching

  • Supporting Movement Building Initiatives

  • Consulting to support Fundraising for large scale collaborative change

kindred community photo grouping

Keynotes & Workshops 

Based on Books:

  • Breakthrough Community Change – How a common agenda can change everything.

  • Deepening Community -  Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times

  • Community Conversations – A Highly interactive approach inspires your audience to converse

Technical: (A sample)

  • Building a Common Agenda for a collective impact

  • Fundraising for Social Change - 5 good ideas to raise big gifts

  • Effective Leadership Roundtables

  • Lived and Living Experience - An Asset Based Approach to Engagement 

Inspirational: (A sample)

  • Ending Poverty in Canada
  • Communities that Collaborate win
  • Large scale community change is possible

All Paul's Keynotes and workshops are interactive and always customized to your needs. 


Examples of Paul's Work

Province of Alberta

Over a period of two years Paul supported the Aboriginal Engagement Team to host 11 community conversations across Alberta to determine why so many Aboriginal Children were being removed from their homes. We first mapped "the system that desired change" identifying nearly 30 different agencies that might be involved when a child is removed. Paul helped the team to deployed a unique engagement process that included working with Elders to determine who might be invited to our conversations. Each conversation lasted a full day, many were proceeded by a pipe ceremony or feast. In total nearly 1100 people were engaged including many mothers. A vital report was prepared with our findings.

United Way of Central Iowa

For two years Paul supported a leadership roundtable and a small community team to launch a collective impact initiative that was designed to increase economic self sufficiency of low income residents. The teams met with Paul monthly resulting in them uniting their community (over 100 confirmed partners) in a common agenda. They raised significant donations and launched multiple new approaches that would remove barriers to opportunity for people. More than 25,000 residents became economically self sufficient.

Paul has provided similar coaching services to dozens of communities big and small including Philadelphia,  Chatam Kent, Montreal, Revelstoke, Singapore and beyond. 

Ashoka Canada

Paul supported Ashoka Canada to develop high impact strategies to accelerate the impact of their  vision and mission. Then as a fundraising coach Paul helped Ashoka develop a prospect list, a case for support and a campaign plan. The organization raised over $5 million with Paul's guidance and were able to implement their ambitious vision. 

Paul in the media

Paul Born has been featured locally, nationally, and internationally for his work in poverty reduction and community building.