Who Are Stakeholders?

Generally, stakeholders are respected, trusted, and wellknown citizen leaders who can help guide your process. They are committed to an honest, open, and fair evaluation of the issues. They are those affected—positively or negatively—by the outcome of a process and who can implement it. Stakeholders love their community and are passionate about the issues facing it. The stakeholders for each planning process consist of those who see themselves as having an interest or stake in the decision and its outcomes. As a result, stakeholders will vary among projects and decisions.

171fc14b49a79ea979710de5b3402b30 LJoined by community leaders, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (center) kicks of the Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow process. No ties were permitted.A stakeholder group is not a coalition with a common agenda but a collaboration of all affected parties. It's important to encourage participation from stakeholders with diverse opinions in the community even when it means bringing opposing groups to the table. It provides an opportunity for leaders to discuss disputes, learn together, and find common ground.

Stakeholders play many roles throughout the planning process. They help bring people together and build participation and awareness. A stakeholder group needs to be capable of growing and maintaining itself. They often recruit new stakeholders into the process over time. Members of your stakeholder group become conduits to their constituencies providing you with a platform to reach out to the community through them. Your stakeholder group is connected to the community and can serve as a prepublic sounding board to ensure elements of your project are technically strong, relevant, and reflective of local goals and values. And very importantly, stakeholders create transparency and add credibility to your project. Community members will find trust in your process if they can look at the stakeholder group and say "I don't know him, I don't know her, but I do know her."

More in this category: Project Champions »