- Our Approach
We are seasoned sustainability professionals. Our key expertise is in converting challenging and interconnected environmental, social, community and business issues into clear, original sustainability strategies that constitute leading-edge thinking and lead to real improvements in sustainability performance.
We bring a unique combination of skills:
- advanced expertise in strategy based on sustainability science, clear planning structure and human-scale development;
- facilitation, deep listening and clear syntheses of diverse viewpoints and organizational imperatives, and
- inspiring and engaging processes that stimulate innovation and embed sustainability leadership in organizations and networks.
Our extensive international experience has included project leadership and strategic advice for local communities and governments; large businesses; universities and non-governmental organizations in Canada and in Europe.
Many of our projects have been nationally and internationally recognized for excellence.
Over the last 20 years, the word ‘sustainability’ has come to take a prominent place in the popular discourse. Unfortunately, the popularity of ‘sustainability’ is often not accompanied by clarity of meaning and quality of results. We cut through the confusion by getting to the core fundamentals of sustainability. We use systems thinking, sustainability science, human-scale development, strategic framing and inviting processes.
We invite teams to address strategic organizational imperatives and co-create new realities through informed and inspired dialogue. The result: enhanced sustainability literacy, passion to achieve and competence to execute. Our unique and thoroughly tested process is simple, robust and adaptable. We engage organizations and project teams in a unique, interactive, clarifying and creativity-enabling process:
- Identify, Anticipate and Prioritize major ‘sustainability’ trends, risks and opportunities that are, and are likely to become, ‘material’ – e.g. ecological, social, regulatory, geopolitical, community and economic. What distinguishes the unfolding landscape of the future and what will it mean for your situation (e.g. community, business, network, etc.) over the long run?
- Envision an attractive, desirable & sustainable future – for your organization and society at large – that guides long-term goals, program objectives, strategy and measurable targets. What will be our beautiful, ‘just’, fun, genuinely sustainable (and profitable) future? What is our strategy for getting there?
- Prioritize imperatives, develop competence and execute strategies and actions leading to improved sustainability performance and long-term value creation. How will we become an exceptional organization, community or network that turns exciting possibilities into celebrated realities? What do we need to do – e.g. learn, prioritize, invest in, develop partnerships, monitor/measure, revise, enhance?
Synapse Strategies is a Vancouver-based consultancy committed to helping local communities and organizations ‘bridge the gap’ to a sustainable future. Our philosophy is rooted in a synergistic combination of two main themes: first, understanding ‘whole systems’ sustainability science coupled with a structured approach to decision-making and second, enacting a collaborative approach to co-creating new possibilities through engaged client participation in the change process.
Recognizing that achieving an attractive, sustainable society means transformative change across sectors, we work closely with clients and stakeholders to help them clarify main priorities, create an attractive vision and identify options for taking strategic action. Different projects call for different types of services: we can provide a collaborative approach to envisioning, facilitation, coaching, education, research, analysis and action planning.
With over 30 years experience, the partners of Synapse, David Waldron and Katie Pease, have a diverse portfolio with projects including: award-winning community sustainability partnerships, integrated community planning, supervision of various municipal engineering projects, and planning for sustainable community food and energy systems. In addition, they have led the design and delivery of both community-based and graduate level sustainability education programs.
This team brings a fresh, optimistic approach to strategic sustainable development and welcomes the opportunity to explore new challenges.
David Waldron biography
David Waldron is a Sustainability Professional with considerable expertise in converting complex challenges into clear, original sustainability strategies and world-class results that walk the talk. Formerly a professional civil engineer, Dave has, for 15 years initiated, directed and advised on nationally and internationally leading sustainability movements for local and regional governments, businesses, charitable organizations and universities.
Since beginning his career as a professional engineer, David was a central figure in establishing an internationally recognized sustainability movement in Whistler, Canada. He co-authored Whistler’s first vision and environmental sustainability strategy, introduced community energy planning, coordinated a community-wide sustainability network and was a key advisor on a comprehensive sustainability plan (Whistler2020). He also represented Whistler on the Environmental Advisory Committee for the Vancouver/Whistler Bid for the 2010 Olympic Games.
David was ‘lead architect’ and Program Director for an original international Master’s program “Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability” at BTH, Sweden, where BTH become the top-ranked Swedish University for sustainability education. He also helped launch IMAGINE, a European network of hundreds of local authorities re-imagining their energy futures. David has also been Director of Sustainability and strategic advisor for the David Suzuki Foundation and lead sustainability strategy advisor to one of Canada’s largest mining corporations.
David teaches Sustainability Leadership through the University of British Columbia (UBC) and is an Adjunct Professor with Simon Fraser University (SFU). He has a Bachelor’s of Applied Science (Civil Engineering), from UBC and a Master’s of Resource and Environmental Management, from SFU.
Katie Pease biography
Katie Pease works with the process of organizational change, combining the concepts of systems thinking, collaboration, and strategic planning. Her background is in sustainability, with education and experience in land use planning and community engagement. She holds a Masters degree in Strategic Sustainable Development with training in The Natural Step framework, which she applies in her work with organizations and communities.
She started her professional career at Quincy Natural Foods, a community based cooperative where she was trained in management and group decision-making processes, eventually acting as a member of the Board of Directors, steering the organization toward more sustainable practices. She has worked with organic farming businesses across California, and more recently with the Resort Municipality of Whistler and a diverse collection of stakeholders, to help create local community food systems. Incorporating a broad range of themes in the sustainability field she is a principal of Synapse, providing companies, communities and individuals with the tools to work toward a more sustainable society.
- Strategic planning and process management
- Facilitation, deep listening and synthesis
- Team building and community engagement
- Sustainability leadership training
Click through the following sectors to see specific services and experience:
- Process Design and Facilitation (e.g. staff engagement, community engagement)
- Sustainability leadership training and mentoring
- Preparation of integrated community sustainability plans
- Process leader for ‘next generation’ neighbourhoods (designs, processes and partnerships)
- Municipal infrastructure analysis, strategic planning, design and construction (e.g. water, energy, waste, drainage, etc.)
- Research and Analysis
- Community Vision (Whistler 2002: Charting a Course for the Future, Co-author)
- Comprehensive strategy for environmental sustainability (Co-author)
- Community sustainability partnership with business, local government and non-profits (Whistler. It’s Our Nature. Network coordinator) (FCM Award-winning)
- Comprehensive Community Sustainability Plan (Whistler2020. Advisor) (FCM, and Livable Communities award-winning, UNEP endorsed)
- Conceptualization and design of International platform for dialogue of European local authorities re-imagining their energy futures. IMAGINE. Energie-Cities (Advisor).
- Ten years municipal engineering experience:
- Six years Assistant Municipal Engineer, Whistler, BC
- Three years municipal engineering consulting, Kelowna, BC
- Extensive experience with similar projects for business, civil society and academia.
- Sustainability leadership training
- Inventory and analysis, from a sustainability perspective
- Making the sustainability business case (company-specific)
- Process Design and Facilitation for Sustainability Strategies that transcend business, community, civil society boundaries:
- Strategic planning and strategy
- Synthesis of diverse viewpoints
- Engaging business units and communities of interest
- Implementation, decision analysis and support
- Presentations, training, coaching and mentoring
- Sustainability workshops for Senior Leadership team of major European insulation manufacturer
- Process design and facilitation of a large Canadian mining company’s first sustainability strategy:
- Facilitation of corporate sustainability group’s preliminary workshops and plans
- Interviews with senior executive’s and synthesis of their advice
- Process design and facilitation of cross-functional working group (including work plans, background reports and content analysis)
- Presentation of sustainability and strategic framework for cross-functional working group
- Feedback and advice on the emerging strategy.
- Extensive experience with similar projects for local communities, civil society and academia.
- Inventory and analysis of issues and current practices
- Presentations, training, coaching and mentoring
- Process Design and Facilitation:
- Strategic planning and strategy development
- Synthesis of diverse viewpoints
- Decision analysis and support for project implementation
- Director of Sustainability, David Suzuki Foundation
- Project Lead for CEO- and Board of Directors-led projects for the David Suzuki Foundation (Long Term Direction Project and Five Year Strategic Plan).
- Keynote presentations at international conferences (Stockholm, Sweden; Riga, Latvia; Prague, Czech Rep., Brasov, Romania; Brussels, Belgium)
- Co-creator of concept for new ‘platform for dialogue’ amongst European local authorities re-imagining their energy futures (IMAGINE, Energie-Cities, France)
- Extensive experience with similar projects for business, local communities and academia.
- Sustainability Leadership – Program Development:
- Facilitation of working groups and synthesis of diverse viewpoints
- Meta-research and content development
- Pedagogy development
- Program management
- On campus more sustainable operations
- Sustainability partnerships in the community
- Team Lead and ‘Lead Architect’ of an original, international Master’s Program, ‘Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability,’ at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), Karlskrona, Sweden. BTH became top-ranked in Sweden and third-ranked in Europe for sustainability education.
- Master’s Program Director and Lead Instructor, Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, BTH, Sweden
- Instructor of the course, Sustainability Leadership: from Strategy to Transformation, for UBC Continuing Studies, Vancouver, Canada
- Presenter, Summer Institute on Sustainability Leadership, UBC, Vancouver, Canada
- Guest Lecturer on sustainability education, various universities (e.g. Faculty Retreat at WKU, USA; School of Architecture at UEES, Ecuador; School of Planning at KTH, Sweden; Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico; Resource and Environmental Management at SFU, Canada; etc.)
- Extensive experience with similar projects for business, civil society and local communities.
- Process Design and Facilitation – careful listening to diverse perspectives, working closely with organization representatives to determine strategic objectives, design and facilitate engaging and inspiring processes for developing sustainability literacy, business case and strategy;
- Research and Analysis – clearly structured, ‘sustainability-science relevant’ background and framing papers to inform and to guide processes;
- Strategic Planning – based on a facilitated, dialogic process – inventories, interviews and synthesizing input from diverse stakeholders and best practices. Preparation of sustainability strategic plans.
- Presentations – interactive and keynote presentations – anchored in sound concepts and illustrated through examples – to inform, clarify and inspire;
- Sustainability Implementation: Coaching, Training and Change Management – interactive and applied learning and implementation programs, advisory services and decision-support for senior leaders and line managers to develop sustainability competence, strategy and transformational change processes and execution on issues of strategic importance to the organization.
dave AT* synapse-strategies.com
katie AT* synapse-strategies.com
4438 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4R8