We are expert facilitators, planners, communicators, and organizational development specialists.

We deliver evidence-based, well-supported insights, plans, and opportunities to overcome your challenges and realize your possibilities.

We stand apart for our proven ability to make even the most controversial, the most complex, the most novel conversations an experience where people feel valued, heard, and part of the solution.

We make a difference by inviting the right conversations with the right people to bridge values, unify voices, and deliver compelling plans, processes, and tools that help to achieve your goals.

We have the experience to prove it.




30+ planning sessions. Multiple plans. New City policy. A new approach to public engagement. 

Insight: There’s no greater spotlight on public engagement work than a public engagement project to transform public engagement. The project needs to both exemplify and explore the best of public engagement simultaneously.

2014, the City of Edmonton’s newly elected Council asked more than 1,000 Edmontonians to describe good public engagement. In the fall of 2015, Emerge Solutions was invited to work with more than 100 City staff and community members, as part of five Working Groups, to transform Edmontonians’ ideas into a new approach to public engagement.

Over 14 months, Emerge Solutions designed and facilitated more than 30 Working Group planning sessions and three All Working Group Assemblies. We began by facilitating and writing action plans for each of the five Working Groups, and were retained to see the action plans through to completion. With our deep expertise in engagement and strength in navigating complexity, our involvement grew to include extensive advising and content development, including a draft public engagement framework, policy, procedure, development framework, learning and training plan, community leadership plan, and overarching strategy and implementation plan.

Planning through engagement. A Strategy and Action Plan. Implementation with Senior Leaders.

Insight: People support what they help to create. Creating strategies and actions plans involve a lot of time, energy, and resources. Effective planning conversations lead to effective plans – the kind that people can get behind and get great results.

In 2015, Covenant Health identified the need to better support front line leaders and program managers with their communication practices. It wanted to understand the key communications challenges facing leaders and develop a strategy, supporting by a strong implementation plan, to respond to leaders’ most pressing needs. Emerge Solutions was invited to lead the planning work by engaging more than 40 front line leaders and program managers to identify their key challenges and prioritize the most helpful solutions.

Emerge Solutions approached the opportunity in three phases over 18 months. First, we designed and facilitated a conversation with front line leaders and program managers to learn about their communications accountabilities and associated challenges. In response, we developed the 10 Tenets of Effective Leader Communication and a process-based model to illustrate how to develop them. Second, we designed and facilitated a conversation with the same front line leaders and program managers to identify priority actions to better support them as leaders, including possible wins. In response, we developed a comprehensive Leaders Communication Strategy and Three-year Action Plan. Third, we presented the findings to Covenant Health’s Senior Leadership Team and, following the presentation, engaged the Senior Leaders around the top priority in the action plan to gain a better understanding of how to implement it and expedite progress.

As a result of our strengths in identifying shared priorities, developing well-supported plans, and effective communication, Emerge Solutions was also retained to support a re-organizational design process in 2016 and multi-agency planning process in 2017.

Five populations. 20+ public engagement sessions. 20+ What We Heard Reports. Recommendations to improve the municipal voting system.

Insight: Recognizing that there are valid public concerns and opportunities to do better underlie many progressive municipal projects. Clearly identifying and involving affected citizens helps to identify thoughtful and innovative solutions that will make the biggest difference to those impacted.

During and following Edmonton’s 2013 municipal election, Edmonton Elections heard that some of its recent changes and long-standing practices were acting as barriers to citizen participation in the voting process. With a mandate to deliver all logistics leading up to and during the municipal election process, it wanted to learn more about the voting experience and perceptions of five populations – people who identify as youth, senior, Aboriginal, a new Canadian, and/or a person with disabilities. Emerge Solutions was invited to design and implement its engagement approach, report on the findings, and, based on the findings, share insights on potential recommendations to improve the voting system with Edmonton Election’s Returning Officer.

Over eight months, Emerge Solutions developed a comprehensive, multi-stage, multi-stakeholder engagement plan. We created an online survey to better understand the key barriers affecting the five target populations and followed this with 22 in-person consultations, ensuring a minimum of four sessions per target population, to validate the survey findings and collaborate with the target populations to identify effective, realistic, and highly desired solutions to the barriers they experience.

We developed and provided a “What We Heard” report to the City of Edmonton and participating stakeholders at the conclusion of both the survey and each in-person conversation. We also analyzed the key themes emerging through all of the public consultation and developed a comprehensive What We Heard report on understanding voter needs. This report provided key insights overall and by population, as well as the survey results and verbatim comments from the in-person consultations.

As a result of our strength in content development and analysis, we also provided Edmonton Elections with suggestions on quick wins, possible mid-term solutions, and long-term opportunities to mitigate or eliminate barriers present in the municipal voting system.

Online survey. Conversations with more than 300 Fire Captains. Four focus groups. What We Heard report. Engagement insights. Recommendations on updates.

Insight: Public and stakeholder engagement is one of a myriad of approaches that can be used to understand challenges and opportunities facing any organization into the future. As long as the process is transparent and expectations are well-managed, it can be an effective way to help scope and identify important content for future-focused plans.

In the fall of 2016, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) began work to update its five-year Master Plan. The 2017 to 2022 document will strategic lens on Edmonton Fire Rescue Services’ work and establishes priorities for it focuses its time, energy, and resources. In addition to internal analytics, best practice research, and emerging trends, EFRS wanted to hear from the public and stakeholders on where it should focus moving into the future. Emerge Solutions was retained to define the role of public and stakeholder engagement in the planning process, as well as develop and implement the public and stakeholder engagement plan.

Over seven months, Emerge Solutions developed online surveys that garnered nearly 1,800 responses, conducted four planning conversations with more than 300 Fire Captains, and delivered four focus groups with more than 50 stakeholders. Outside of our work to lead the engagement work, our value-add was in the data analysis, identifying key insights into the required scope of the Master Plan and making recommendations on where to focus the updates and draw key content. We played a key role in advising the EFRS Master Plan team on how to most effectively implement its public and stakeholder input and marry it with its other inputs into the planning and decision-making process.

Internal engagement. Best practice literature review. Environmental scan. Communications strategy and implementation plan.

Insight: Developing a good strategy demands the ability to draw on and recognize the value of inputs from multiple sources. The role of people in planning is both to provide input but also have the opportunity to work together to identify strategic priorities and the rights steps and resourcing to put them in place.

In 2014, the Town of Hinton was experiencing a lot of changes. Its Chief Administrative Officer was retiring, it had a new Communications Officer in place, and it was making plans based on recent community satisfaction survey results. Emerge Solutions was engaged to gain a holistic understanding of the Town’s operating environment and develop a corporate communications plan to both look at the role of the new Communications Officer and identify key priorities as well as the action plan for the next three years.

Over three months, Emerge Solutions conducted a thorough literature review of the Town’s past and current guiding strategies, plans, policies, and other supporting documents. We actively researched and inquired into the best plans guiding other similar-size communities. We conducted an audit of the Town’s existing communications tools. We also engaged key members of Town Council and administrative as part of a planning conversation to set communications priorities, extending from public affairs into the digital and social landscape. With a high-level of support through the planning conversation, Emerge Solutions developed a comprehensive Corporate Communications Strategy and Implementation Plan. With this support, the plan has been a key resource in guiding Hinton’s communications activities and resource allocation. It’s emphasis on evaluation has helped to ensure that the Town has a strong understanding of where it is making strides and where there is additional work emerging and to be done.

Resource development. Curriculum development. Webinars. Teaching and capacity-building workshops.

Insight: Being exceptional at engagement means staying on top of best practices, trends, and learning opportunities. Good engagement practices starts with having access to great resources and training – both online and in the classroom.

Beginning in 2014, Emerge Solutions was retained to develop and deliver an extensive Social Media Resource Guide (2014) and an equally comprehensive Citizen Engagement Toolkit (2015), along with the curriculum to build the capacity of municipalities and elected officials to gain the most from these areas of focus. To support capacity building, we delivered a webinar to more than 100 municipal representatives along with seminars at both the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) 2014, 2015, and 2016 conferences.

In addition to being the choice agency to put in place the foundational resources to support social media use and citizen engagement work, Emerge Solutions is also a key partner in developing and delivering curriculum as part of Alberta Elected Officials Education program. Our areas of focus include citizen engagement, media and communications, leadership development, and working in teams.

Our Team



Nice to know:

  • 10 years in progressively senior municipal government roles before founding Emerge Solutions.
  • Develops and teaches engagement and social media courses at the University of Alberta
  • Develops and teaches engagement, communications, leadership, and teamwork courses for Alberta’s Elected Officials Education Program
  • Research Director for the Canada’s International Association of Public Participation (IAP2)
  • Holds a Master of Arts in Communications and Technology (University of Alberta); Bachelor of Recreation Administration (University of Alberta)

What makes Maria such a natural at engagement? It may be her exceptional project planning skills. It could be her strong, calming presence. However, it’s most likely her ability to find the commonalities in a room full of differences. Maria understands that people (and all our ideas, opinions, and personalities) are both the best and most challenging part of every project. Thankfully, she’s spent 20 years finessing her ability to plan, facilitate, and find the sweet spot with even the most challenging projects (yes, even land-use and urban development).

Nice to know:

  • 10 years in progressively senior provincial government roles before joining Emerge Solutions
  • Develops and teaches engagement, communications, leadership, and teamwork courses for Alberta’s Elected Officials Education Program
  • Holds a Masters of Ecological Economics (Malardalen University, Sweden)
  • Holds a Masters of Arts in Communications and Technology (University of Alberta)
  • Holds a Bachelor of Commerce (University of Alberta/Thammasat University, Thailand)
  • Paul Harris, Fellow, Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Rotary Youth Exchange

Lisa has a reputation as a venture idea-ist. Her mind dares to journey into new places and she is given a lot of latitude for her ability to get results.  She is a strategist and content specialist with an uncanny ability to integrate ideas and arrive at clarity and insights. Her honed analytical skills allow her to make sense of complex systems and immense amounts of information and translate them into meaningful plans, strategies, stories and engagement processes. If it employs words to make an impact then Lisa is up for the challenge.

Maria deBruijn
Maria deBruijn
Lisa Grotkowski
Lisa Grotkowski