Dawn joined Collaborate in 2018 and is a member of the Senior Management Team. She leads Collaborate’s practice development, and its work on learning partnerships and funding and commissioning. She currently works with partners including Save the Children, the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime, NHSEI, and local authorities. 

Dawn is a co-author of the report Exploring the New World: practical insights for funding, commissioning and managing in complexity and Human Learning Systems: Public Service for the Real World. She convenes a number of related peer learning networks.

Dawn previously worked at The National Lottery Community Fund where she worked to develop and test new grant-making approaches, and help establish a new UK-wide knowledge and learning function. Before Collaborate, Dawn was a Senior Consultant at NPC, a charity think tank and consultancy, and has worked in local, national and international grantmaking roles.

Dawn has a MA in Social Policy from the University of Birmingham. She is trustee of a local grantmaking trust, and Xenia, a charity in Hackney which brings together women to promote language learning, social connections, and cultural exchange.

In their own words:

I love working at Collaborate because of the opportunity to look beyond traditional silos and help people and organisations work together. So much of our work is about weaving relationships, shifting perspectives, and learning together – things that are often invisible and overlooked, but essential for helping people and places thrive.

One question I hold throughout my work is the potential of civil society organisations in place, particularly when we can overcome traditional power dynamics between sectors. I’m inspired by civil society organisations like Exeter CoLab, Black Thrive and Surrey Youth Focus. These organisations play a ‘stewardship’ role to build relationships, enable mutual learning, and help shift power dynamics so that local people are central in shaping change. 

At Collaborate, colleagues say my strengths are making connections (between people and ideas), creating space for others to be curious, and being values-driven.

Dawn Plimmer Projects