Story Activist

Stories help us understand our world and imagine our future. They resonate logically and emotionally and serve as a powerful way to trigger and sustain change. As a novelist, social commentator and facilitator, I understand that the narratives we repeat about ourselves determine what we become.

I use my storytelling skills in an organisational setting to support leaders, teams and individuals to examine their narratives, learn from them and perhaps come up with new ones. We investigate the grit of working life and see what’s possible, including uplifting outcomes, what’s hopeful and what can be heavy going, and what might need protecting as green shoots of change.

The support I offer is tailored to clients’ needs and given through facilitated workshops, conversations and interviews, which produce lasting materials – books, blogs and video content – that you can return to.

What working on organisational stories can help you to achieve

  • Clarify the positive narratives, the vision, values and future direction
  • Change organisational culture and bring strategy, policy or research to life
  • Ensure voices are heard in an authentic, creative way that informs change
  • Illustrate desired behaviours and attitudes to unite teams and accelerate performance
  • Improve morale by understanding or unearthing negative narratives that foster resistance to change
  • Gain new perspectives on leadership, build character and resilience

Story activist services

  • Co-creating clear, authentic and compelling strategic narratives and powerful organisational stories – using a combination of storytelling workshops and creative conversations or interviews
  • Supporting leaders, managers and staff to tell their own stories – improve impact and influence by learning storytelling and communications skills, writing, and blogging opinion pieces
  • Developing energy and motivation to change by sharing stories of best practice and innovation – embedding new behaviours and ways of working
  • Producing lasting materials – in a range of media – beautiful books (print and ebooks) and engaging video content


Flash fiction and first person narratives


Walk Tall: Being a 21st Century Public Servant – Shared Press 2016

Walk Tall is an intriguing mix of short fiction, profiles and opinions about the experience of working in the public sector. Find out what people do, how they lead and what’s needed of public servants in a complex and changing society. The free ebook celebrates the best of public service and shows the way ahead. It features 65 public servants, 25 organisations and plenty of shoes. Commissioned by the Local Government Association, SOLACE and the Public Sector People Managers Association this is a free ebook.


Making our Mark – Shared Press 2015 and International Edition 2017

How do you want to make your mark in the world of work? It’s the question at the heart of a new creative project commissioned by the University of Greenwich. It was designed to explore student stories of work, their experiences and expectations. The stories included are rich, engaging and honest in a way that no case study could ever be. And the story structure adds meaning and clarifies where the real rub is terms of getting started in a career.

Please contact for more information


Change the Ending – Shared Press 2014

Change the Ending is a flash-fiction collection that opens up an imaginative and creative dialogue about the future of local government and public services. See the Shared Press blog for a selection of curious, quirky and inspiring stories, exploring the future of public life, written by people who care about it. The project is supported by Solace, KnowledgeHub and the Guardian.

Available for order from all bookshops and on-line stores.


What people say about my story skills:

In Spring 2016, The LGA, PPMA and SOLACE agreed we wanted to commission an e-book to bring to life research on the 21st century public servant. From the moment I met Dawn at the tender interviews I was struck by her passion, creativity and down to earth approach and throughout the process of producing the stories and the book she consistently demonstrated those qualities. She produced a book that exceeded our expectations and did it professionally, collaboratively, to deadline and budget and with no small measure of fun thrown in. I’d have no hesitation in recommending Dawn.”

Sarah Messenger – Local Government Association

“Dawn worked with us to produce ‘Walk Tall’ a celebration of what it is to be a 21st Century Public Servant. The stories were designed to illustrate characteristics, values and behaviours we will need in our workforce going forwards. She was a delight to work with had the final product totally exceeded our expectations. I very much hope we will be working again in the future.”

Karen Grave, Vice President PPMA Public Sector People Managers Association

“As our Writer In Residency Dawn worked with us on The Voices project. It was designed to increase influence, provoke debate and inform decision-making. The work has resulted in more than thirty articles, stories, blogs and flash fiction collaborations and over a hundred members attending creative thinking and writing workshops at CIPFA conferences – smashing a  stereotypical view of dull, uncreative accountants.”

Drew Cullen – CIPFA Director of Communications


What people say about the creative story workshops:

“The team were buzzing after a great session with Dawn”
Andy Allsop, LB Hounslow

 “Very motivating, encouraged us to see a new positive story for the Council.” Fran Collingham, Coventry City Council

Martin Smith Chief Executive LB Ealing  “I hired Dawn unseen to work with my cohort of senior managers. We are a pretty business like bunch, so introducing creative storytelling onto the agenda was a bit of a calculated risk. But it worked really well, feedback was overwhelmingly positive. People valued being challenged to think creatively and to learn and deploy new techniques to address complex managerial and service  issues.”

“Colleagues were initially challenged by the creative exercise, but from the buzz in the room it was clear that innovative and inspirational ideas were flowing as a result of conversations and the sharing of ideas. It was a very enjoyable and unusual way to highlight the importance of positive story telling when times are hard and was much appreciated by everyone.

Sandy Hopkins Chief Executive Havant SE Hamps

Recent story work clients include:

  • Bristol City Council
  • Society of Local Authority Chief Executives Conference 2017
  • Grant Thornton LLP
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance Conference and Summer School
  • PPMA Conference – Public Sector People Managers Association
  • Local Government Association 2016
  • London Borough of Hounslow
  • Worcester City Council