Photo of Ona Ferguson

Ona Ferguson

Senior Mediator

Ona Ferguson is a Senior Mediator at the Consensus Building Institute and lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. At CBI, Ona designs and facilitates meetings on a range of environmental and public policy issues, as well as on organizational and strategic planning. For two decades, Ona has helped groups work constructively on natural resource and public policy issues including shoreline management, climate change planning, toxic site clean ups, and land use disputes. Her work has been covered by The New York Times.

Areas of Focus

Ona co-leads CBI’s Coasts and Oceans practice.  Her experience includes coastal management, climate change, land use, superfund, ecosystem restoration, and organizational and strategic planning. Ona provides stakeholder analysis and conflict assessment services, facilitation and mediation of natural resource and public policy dialogues, management of coalitions and partnerships, design and facilitation of public engagement processes, and strategic planning efforts.

Ona’s current and recent projects include facilitating public engagement for the climate change preparedness planning effort in Cambridge, MA; teaching an annual negotiation course to environmental management graduate students at Yale; managing the Hudson River PCB dredging project’s Community Advisory Group; leading a land use planning process in Medfield, MA; helping the MA Division of Ecological Restoration develop their strategic plan; developing possible approaches to stakeholder engagement for the Long Island Sound blue plan process; and facilitating two collaborative research projects related to shoreline and sediment change in the Hudson River. 

Ona is co-author of Land in Conflict; Preventing and Managing Land Use Disputes, which provides a set of tools for planners, lawyers, developers, and community members to improve how they make local decisions about the most contested pieces of land. 

Exemplary Projects

  • Cambridge MA Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment
  • Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines
  • Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site Community Advisory Group
  • Northeast Regional Ocean Planning Stakeholder Engagement
  • NY Summit on Urban Coastal Resilience
  • MA Division of Ecological Restoration Strategic Planning 


The following is a partial list of clients:

Federal Agencies

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Region 1, Region 2, Region 8)
  • U.S. Air Force

State Agencies

  • Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration
  • New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Local Municipalities

  • Boston, MA
  • Cambridge, MA
  • Kingston, NY
  • North Kingstown, RI


  • The Barr Foundation

Nonprofit Organizations & Foundations

  • The Association of National Estuary Programs
  • The Coastal States Organization
  • GuideStar USA
  • The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The New York – New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program
  • The Northeast Regional Ocean Council
  • Oxfam America
  • The Trustees of Reservations
  • The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Education and Affiliations

Ona is on the rosters of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution and the MA Office of Public Collaboration. She holds a masters degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a B.A. from Smith College. 

Books and Articles