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Hilary Cottam is a Principal Partner of Participle. Prior to co-founding Participle she was a Director of the Design Council where she started the Design Council’s public service work and led the RED team in developing ground breaking projects in health, education, transport and citizenship.
Before joining the Design Council Hilary founded and directed School Works Ltd, a secondary school design initiative set up to look at the connections between learning and the built environment. The first partner school is now in the UK’s top 20 most improved schools and following an independent evaluation by Price Waterhouse Coopers it was recommended that the School Works process and principles guide the government’s investment in secondary schools nationally. School Works is now an independent, not for profit company, which has worked with 52 schools in 13 local authorities. In 2004 School Works was ranked within Britain’s top 100 creative companies.
Hilary is also founding Director of the Do Tank Ltd., whose projects include an acclaimed re-think of the prison system.
Hilary spent 8 years working internationally before her return to the UK in 1997. She was an urban poverty specialist at the World Bank, based in Washington D.C. At the World Bank Hilary was responsible for the development of a strategic framework for urban regeneration in Southern Africa, during a period when the World Bank was seeking to change significantly its approach to urban development. Hilary helped pioneer a participative methodology for mapping urban poverty. The findings led to a re-appraisal of urban investments in three countries and projects in health, education, micro finance and water and sanitation. The strategic principles behind the work have since been taken up in other areas of the World Bank.
Hilary has spent long periods living in some of the world’s poorest barrios or slums. She has also been an advisor to UNICEF, and a Field Director and board member of CARE International. She has worked in the Horn of Africa, Central and South America with a number of non-governmental organisations as well as working as a consultant to central governments.
Hilary was educated at Oxford, Sussex and the Open University, she holds a PhD in social sciences. Her academic research focuses on the emotional, social and economic effects of design in the urban environment. Her work has been published widely in UK and international academic journals.
Hilary’s most recent publications are Beveridge 4.0, and The User Generated State - Public Services 2.0 written in collaboration with Charles Leadbeater.