Leading Through COVID-19 with Ilona Dougherty: How other sectors can best work with government in times of crisis - Institute on Governance

Leading Through COVID-19 with Ilona Dougherty: How other sectors can best work with government in times of crisis

5 minute read

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In IOG’s latest live webcast, Leading Through COVID-19 #leadingthroughC19, IOG President Toby Fyfe interviewed Managing Director of the Youth and Innovation Project at the University of Waterloo, Ilona Dougherty. Dougherty discussed how government can engage other sectors in order to drive innovation, leverage expertise, and inform future policies and programs. With a focus on youth engagement, Dougherty used her knowledge and experience to share key ideas for government to consider in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Dougherty stressed the importance of building relationships with experts in sectors outside government, and how that must begin long before a crisis hits. She suggested that the best way to engage others is by listening and being open to the expertise they can bring, “It’s often folks outside of government who are the experts in a certain domain, so a willingness to listen and engage with experts and to support those experts in navigating the system [must exist] so that really innovative programs and policy can be implemented.” She also noted that this collaborative work should be relational, not simply transactional, in order to make a greater impact long-term.

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With a long history of working in youth engagement, social innovation, and entrepreneurship, Dougherty is poised as a thought leader when it comes to successful intergenerational collaboration between government and other sectors. This knowledge and experience has allowed her to provide advice on how government can best work specifically with youth to drive innovation. With the current crisis in mind, she stated, “Moments of crisis are moments of opportunity. Covid-19 is not the great equalizer, it’s the great revealer of inequality — of what’s not working. We need new ideas, and young people’s brains are literally wired to come up with those bold solutions and bold ideas, but they can only do it in intergenerational collaboration — we need all of us, but we need to be working together.”

She suggested that government should include Canada’s diverse youth population at all levels, and how that can help us recover from this crisis. “Engaging young people meaningfully in policy development is not just about young people, it’s about intergenerational collaboration in the context of policy development. How can we tap into the young public servants, listen to their ideas and their perspectives in the context of this crisis, and have them help us reimagine what Canada and the world should look like in the context of this recovery?” She continued, “Young people are the innovation engine of society and the innovation engine of our institutions, so the ideas of young people should be infused in every conversation about moving forward.”

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In closing, Dougherty spoke to the larger issues at hand that we must consider post-Covid-19, such as the intergenerational social contract. She noted, “Through our research [at the University of Waterloo] we’ve really come to the conclusion that adulthood no longer equals stability, and that’s the reality we’re all living in, so we need to rewrite the social contract — the intergenerational social contract. How do we support those who are elderly who are towards the end of their lives, and how at the same time do we support those who are at the beginning of their careers? Those are big conversations and I really believe that Covid-19 has amplified those intergenerational inequalities, and if we don’t take this opportunity to really thoughtfully think through what intergenerational support really looks like, I think we’ll have missed an opportunity.”

Thank you to Ilona Dougherty for joining us on the Leading Through COVID-19 Webcast. Join us for our next webcast, this Thursday, May 28th at 12:30 PM EST where IOG President Toby Fyfe will be speaking with Kate Moran, President and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada, about “Leadership Lessons During a Disaster”.

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This webcast series is brought to you with the support of SAS. Together, we can make a difference with passion, expertise and technology. Click here to learn more about SAS COVID-19 Response in this resource hub.

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