Photo of David Fairman

David Fairman

Managing Director

David Fairman is Managing Director at the Consensus Building Institute and Associate Director of the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program. For 28 years, he has built consensus and enhanced collaboration capacity on complex public and organizational issues internationally and in the U.S. His primary focus is building effective multi-stakeholder partnerships, organizational strategies, and dispute resolution systems to meet challenges of sustainable development. 

Areas of Focus

Leading CBI’s Global Development and Peacebuilding practice, David builds consensus and collaboration capacity on a wide range of issues, from implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, to rights-based development, integrating peace, humanitarian and development operations, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and addressing the impacts of extractive sector operations. Conveners and stakeholders in this work include national governments, multilateral agencies, global and national NGOs, and multinational corporations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. He is deeply engaged in strengthening leadership collaboration capacity and dispute resolution systems in multilateral organizations, including the UN Development System, the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank. He has catalyzed and supported national initiatives to promote collaborative governance in Brazil, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Korea, and Tanzania and more than 20 other countries.

David’s Economic and Social Policy work in the U.S. includes national- and state-level consensus building on economic opportunity and mobility, the future of education, public housing policy, and re-integration of incarcerated citizens. He has also facilitated consensus building and partnerships on many other issues in the U.S., including national energy policy, regional transportation and economic development plans, and local affordable housing initiatives.  

Exemplary Projects

  • Oxfam America Strategic Planning
  • Tanzania Natural Resource Negotiations
  • UN Development Group Strategic Priorities
  • World Bank Compliance Advisor and Ombudsman Capacity Development
  • Reimagining Education in the U.S.
  • National Ex-Offender Re-entry Policy Council 


The following is a partial list of clients:

Global Development and Peacebuilding

  • International Finance Corporation
  • MasterCard Foundation
  • Oxfam America
  • UN Development Programme
  • UN Peacebuilding Support Office
  • US Department of State
  • US Institute of Peace
  • World Bank, Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman
  • World Health Organization
  • World Resources Institute
  • World Wide Fund for Nature

US Economic and Social Policy

  • Education Reimagined, Convergence Center for Policy Resolution
  • Council of Large Public Housing Agencies
  • Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Crime
  • Re-entry Policy Council, Council of State Governments
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Commercial Negotiations

  • Capital One
  • IBM
  • Mercer
  • Merck
  • Pfizer

Education and Affiliations

David is a senior mediator on the rosters of the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, a founding board member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from MIT, and a B.A. summa cum laude from Harvard College. 

Books and Articles