Chris Gates is a thought leader in the fields of democratic theory and practice and political and civic engagement. For the past three decades he has been a leading voice for strengthening democratic processes and structures and developing new approaches to both engagement and decision-making. Gates has been mentored by innovative leaders like John Gardner, Henry Cisneros, Bill Bradley and Terry Sanford, and shares their desire to build a nation of engaged, informed and empowered citizens.
Gates serves as the Executive Director of PACE, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement. PACE, based in Washington, DC, is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations and serves as a learning collaborative of American foundations that fund work in the fields of civic engagement, service and democratic practice. In this role Gates works within the philanthropic and non-profit communities with those organizations who work to strengthen America's democratic practice, with a particular emphasis on the role that information and social media can play in empowering citizens to become more engaged. Gates also speaks and teaches around the country on the topics of civic engagement and democratic theory and practice.
He previously served for eleven years as President of the National Civic League (NCL), America's oldest good government organization, founded in 1894 by Theodore Roosevelt. NCL helped create the field of public administration and was the originator of the council-manager form of local government. While at NCL he also served as the Co-Director of the United States Healthy Communities Initiative and Co-Director of John Gardner's Alliance for National Renewal.
Gates is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and serves on the boards of Public Agenda, a New York public opinion research and public engagement organization founded by Dan Yankelovich and Cy Vance in 1975, and Mobilize.org, a national non-profit organization that empowers and invests in Millennials to create solutions to social problems. Gates is also a member of the editorial board of Public Administration Review (PAR), a scholarly journal serving both academics and practitioners published by the American Society for Public Administration, and a member of the board of advisors of the National Conference on Citizenship.
He has previously served on the boards of the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship, the California Center for Civic Renewal and INDEPENDENT SECTOR. He also served as co-chair of the Saguaro Seminar, Bob Putnam's research project based at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government working to find ways to build social capital in America.
Gates received his Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he studied the interaction between the public, private and non-profit sectors, and an honors degree in economics from the University of Colorado. He also studied political economics at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Gates was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law degree by Elizabethtown College in 2006.