Don Sawyer

Don is the principal of Northern Education Services Associates, a consulting/writing team providing a wide range of services in the areas of international development, education, training, instructional skills, strategic planning, project proposal writing and evaluation, and curriculum development. At the heart of NESA’s success is its commitment to consulting with and involving stakeholders in all phases of our project work in a truly collaborative process.  

Don is an educator and author with more than 30 years of field experience administering community-based development projects in West Africa and the Caribbean.  He is the former director of the Okanagan College (OC) International Development Centre, where he directed five Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded projects in Ghana and The Gambia.  His primary focus was on researching principles of participatory community development and helping to build these into unique, experiential, culturally relevant programs (co-facilitated with African counterparts) for the training of rural community development workers.  His latest international project was the development of a USAID-sponsored Climate Change Action Training program for Jamaican youth.

Don has extensive adult curriculum development experience, including Curriculum Director for the Native Adult Education Research Centre, which provided sizable curriculum consultation and program development to First Nations communities across Canada, and as director and curriculum coordinator of the West African Rural Development Centre (WARD).  He was the principal researcher and writer of WARD’s acclaimed Rural Community Development Practitioner (RCDP) Diploma program, the focus of an award-winning Knowledge Network documentary.  

His global education curriculum, Africa: Communities in Action, was recognized by Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV-AIDS, as “an astonishing achievement” and is being used in secondary and post-secondary schools across Canada.  He recently completed a youth worker training curriculum for Partnerships in Youth Development (New Orleans), and strategic planning clients include Laubach Literacy (British Columbia) and the Capital Appeals Project (New Orleans) and other non-profit organizations.  In 2012, Don conducted a comprehensive market research project for Askew’s Foods (British Columbia).

Don has taught in public schools, on First Nations reservations, and in post-secondary institutions.  He was the director of Simon Fraser University’s pioneering First Nations teacher training program, served as chair of the OC Adult Basic Education Department, and acted as educational consultant and curriculum developer for numerous British Columbia provincial adult education resources. He has authored more than 10 books, and his op-eds and social commentary have appeared in most of Canada’s major daily newspapers. Don has dual US/Canadian citizenship and holds teaching certificates in both countries.  He specializes in:

(1) Development  project management; (2) Cross-cultural co-facilitation and curriculum collaboration; (3) Non-profit strategic planning; (4) Effective collaboration with NGO/government and post-secondary institutions in developing nations; (5) Experiential, participatory curriculum design; (6) RBM project reporting; (7) Management research and organizational effectiveness; (8) Strategies for working effectively with First Nations/Native Indian learners; (9) Designing a Curriculum (DACUM) deliveries; (10) Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) facilitation and development; (11) Training of trainers; (12) PD workshop design and delivery for educators; (13) Applied research and writing; (14) Proposal writing; (15) Research into CCA strategies and indigenous adaptation strategies; and (16) Cross-cultural interpersonal communication research and workshop delivery.

Don holds a BA in Communication Arts and an MA in Curriculum and Secondary Education from Michigan State University.

Don Sawyer  Principal, Northern Education Services Associates (NESA)

Don Sawyer

Principal, Northern Education Services Associates (NESA)

Fairhope, Alabama, United States

Civic Engagement
Facilitation & Strategic Planning
Project Management
Career Stage
  • Fellow
  • Next Gen
  • Mid-Career
  • Bridge
  • Encore
  • Emeritus