Barb Swartzentruber

Senior Fellow

Barb Swartzentruber is a strategist, catalyst, and connector, working with government and communities to respond to urgent social, economic, and environmental challenges through civic innovation, regenerative practices, and circular economy strategies. She is committed to the power of a shared vision and mission-driven collective action to create regenerative local economies and communities that are inclusive and thriving in harmony with nature.

As a global leader in place-based innovation, system change and community capacity building, she convened and led a collaboration of local governments, business, academic and community leaders to win Canada’s Smart City Challenge. Built on a shared vision and goals, and a distributed leadership and governance model, they co-produced a portfolio of over 60 system change projects for re-imagining a circular, sustainable regional food system.  Successfully attracting over $25M in investments, mobilizing national and international collaborations, this work has created new innovation platforms including the  Circular Innovation Launchpad (COIL) Climate and Circularity HubZero Waste Economic Innovation Lab, and Regenerative Agriculture Program  that are testing and deepening regenerative social, economic, environmental practices. 

As a system innovator with I&IT expertise, Barb led the federal negotiations, design and implementation of the Ontario Government’s first rural and remote broadband strategy, and the province's initial open government and open data strategies.

Barb has taught public policy, intergovernmental relations, community development, and system change at several Canadian universities. She was appointed to the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on the Circular Economy in Canada in 2020 which co-produced the Turning Point Report.  She acts as an expert advisor to the Canadian Circular Cities and Regions initiative supporting local governments across Canada to develop circular economy strategies.