Dana A. Dolan, Ph.D.

Tech-savvy educator, social scientist, and public policy theorist specializing in qualitative methods for analyzing complex, long-term governance challenges

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Photo of the U.S. Capitol in Spring

Demystifying public policy decision-making to make a positive difference in the world

Driven by a commitment to critical thinking, integrity, empathy, and societal impact, Dr. Dolan seeks to empower students, researchers, and policymakers with research-based tools for addressing today’s pressing challenges while avoiding tomorrow’s brewing crises.

Meet Dana A. Dolan, Ph.D.

What happens at the intersection of technological innovation, process change, and policy transformation? Explore the remarkable career of Dr. Dana A. Dolan, whose expertise uniquely spans these realms. As a trailblazer at the forefront of innovation, Dr. Dolan’s contributions have shaped her unique perspective on government practices and policy. In her early career, she spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives in technology and process innovation for government agencies such as the NRC, IRS, and HHS. For example, she designed and developed a secure, 3-tiered web-based online project management application for the IRS’s massive Service Center Mainframe Consolidation project. Later, as Director of Research at the Telework Consortium, she led groundbreaking studies on telecommuting’s potential and challenges—nearly two decades before COVID-19 normalized this practice. Today, Dr. Dolan channels her passion for innovation into developing and teaching policy process theory to inspire future leaders.

Scholarly Pursuits

Dr. Dolan’s academic pursuits demonstrate her steadfast commitment to understanding the dynamics of policy making for long-term societal issues. For example, her dissertation research, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, explores factors influencing policy adoption of Australia’s 2007 Water Act, a transformative shift in water allocation policies that recognized the need to adapt to climate change impacts. Unwinding the puzzling aspect of this case—that policy adoption occurred at the height of a record-breaking drought, and was championed by a conservative prime minister opposed to climate action—led Dr. Dolan to several insights that advanced policy theory. Through this work, she offers nuanced perspectives on crisis-driven decision-making, international influences on domestic policies, and political practices.

For more on this study and others, see the Publications page.

Pedagogical Excellence

As a Professorial Lecturer in International Affairs at The George Washington University’s Elliott School and a policy fellow and adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Governance, Dr. Dolan is known for her engaging teaching style and dedication to student success. Drawing on her academic and consultancy experiences, she guides students through graduate courses on qualitative methods and the policy process with hands-on exercises, collaborative work, and lively visuals, while instilling in them a passion for critical inquiry.

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Professional Background

Dr. Dolan’s professional evolution reflects her commitment to intellectual exploration and societal progress. With a background in software research and development benefiting government clients, she transitioned to public policy driven by a desire for deeper societal impact. Today, she melds her systematic approach to software development with the complexities of policy theory and application, offering pragmatic insights that enrich scholarly discourse and real-world professional practices.

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Bridging Research and Practice

Dr. Dolan is deeply committed to advancing democratic practices that drive positive change in society. By translating academic research into actionable strategies, she seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice, empowering collective decision-making that addresses real-world challenges. Through her interdisciplinary approach and collaborative spirit, Dr. Dolan aims to transcend the cycle of crisis-driven attention and technocratic analyses that exclude public voices, to embrace the transformative potential of ethical political negotiation and compromise.

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Join the Conversation

Dr. Dolan welcomes collaboration and dialogue on the pressing issues shaping our collective future. Whether through research partnerships, speaking engagements, or discussions, she invites fellow scholars, students, and industry professionals to engage in meaningful exchanges that drive positive change.

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Connect with Dr. Dolan on LinkedIn | X (Twitter) | ResearchGate

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