Michelle Bested


Pronouns: she/her
Areas of Focus: 

Michelle is the dynamic leader of the Centre for Dialogue's consulting services team since January 2019. 

As the Engagement and Social Enterprise Associate Director, she collaborates with partners at national, provincial and municipal levels, designing and delivering public and stakeholder engagement initiatives on diverse topics such as affordable housing, wellbeing of children and youth, job readiness, human rights and climate change.

Prior to joining the Centre, Michelle spent 10 years in the international cooperation sector, working with various federal departments and civil society organizations. Michelle has a Masters in Development Management from the London School of Economics and a Bachelors in International Development from the University of Ottawa.

Michelle's passion lies in fostering meaningful conversations to support transformative dialogue. Her projects with the Centre focus on enhancing public engagement capacity, while emphasizing inclusion, diversity and accessibility. Most importantly, Michelle loves meeting new people, developing new relationships with partners and maximizing opportunities to centre the expertise and lived experiences of participants.

Eager to connect, please reach out to Michelle to discuss your upcoming engagement initiatives and ideas—she's always up for a chat!

What is your role at the Centre for Dialogue?

I have the privilege of leading the Centre for Dialogue's consulting services team. In this role I get to work with an incredible team of talented and experienced dialogue practitioners. Together we work collaboratively with partners to design, deliver and facilitate public and stakeholder engagement initiatives. Our projects take place across the country and range from small municipal projects to large national projects.

What does dialogue mean to you?

Dialogue, for me, is a fundamental part of driving meaningful change. It goes beyond words, creating a tapestry of diverse voices, each contributing the weight of lived experiences and unique perspectives. True dialogue involves listening to understand, and most importantly, centering the voices of those most affected by an issue. By amplifying marginalized voices, we cultivate a richer, more empathetic discourse, paving the way for solutions that address the real needs of our communities. At the Centre, dialogue isn't just a conversation; it can also be a catalyst for genuine, impactful transformation.

What is a common assumption you'd like to demystify?

Over the years, I've observed many organizations approach the Centre with predetermined engagement questions, designs, or plans. While I understand the desire for efficiency, it's crucial to recognize that this method often constrains our ability to collaboratively engage in strategic scoping.

In my experience, a direct correlation between a robust scoping phase and the delivery of a ‘successful’ engagement project exists. While a pre-determined approach may seem time-effective initially, it tends to overlook the intricate nuances and diverse perspectives that emerge during the scoping phase. By investing time in collaborative scoping, we not only enhance the overall quality of our projects but also foster a deeper understanding of the unique needs of our participants.

Let's dispel the assumption that scoping is a time-consuming hurdle; instead, let's embrace it as a valuable investment that ensures our projects are not just efficiently executed but are also tailor-made and responsive to the diverse perspectives, challenges and opportunities our participants bring to the table.