Lee Failing


Lee is a Principal at Compass with a knack for getting the right science and the right people working together on hard problems.

Lee has spent her adult life working to improve the quality and transparency of public decisions. Over the past twenty-five years, she has helped countless people – ordinary citizens, senior government officials, industry leaders, technical panels, communities and indigenous groups – to better share land and water, recover endangered species, manage environmental risks, design greener cities, and adapt to an uncertain future. She’s particularly well-known for her work resolving conflicts on large multi-use rivers, where the use of structured decision making, adaptive management and interest-based negotiation intersect. Co-author of a range of peer-reviewed publications in the decision science literature, Lee advocates for the rigorous treatment of both science and values in public decisions. Her latest project – working with teachers on decision skills for kids – imagines a future filled with decision-savvy young citizens with the power to re-imagine public discourse and engage meaningfully in the critical choices of a democratic society.

Lee holds a Masters in Resource Management (MRM) from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manitoba.

How did you come to work at Compass?

I had an idea, a bottle of wine and someone smarter than me to share them with.

What is the best thing a client has ever said to you?

“Wait, don’t we need to clarify our objectives?”

Describe why you do what you do.

Every single day I learn something new, do something that feels worthwhile, or meet someone fascinating.

What was your first job?

Peeling potatoes at a hot dog joint. I was an illegal underage worker with no rights, no influence and no vision. I learned what I don’t want to be when I grow up.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known 10 years ago?

Done trumps perfect.

What truly blows your mind?

Moonrise on the prairie.


It’s impossibly big, bright and unexpected.