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Dawn Nicholson-O'Brien is the President and CEO of Celtic Oracle. She is located in Ottawa, Canada.

With decades of experience in executive level roles in the federal government and in the private sector, including those at the President, Vice President and Agency Head level, she is a bilingual executive, a published author of books, peer-reviewed articles, and an international speaker. Ms. Nicholson-O'Brien is a seasoned expert in modern governance, policy development and delivery, program and change management, legal and regulatory issues, science-based initiatives, negotiation skills, innovation,communications and leadership domains, among others. She is originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

A recipient of leadership, innovation and client service awards, she has worked with leaders in domestic and global networks to achieve results for her clients.

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She has served on a variety of advisory boards and on key decision-making bodies, domestically and internationally. She has appeared as a presenter before Parliamentary committees, international governance bodies, major conferences and events, and, she is a sought-after speaker. She has also served as the Canadian head of delegations to other countries to negotiate key agreements.

Dawn is providing strategic advice, executive consulting products and services, to organizations seeking renewal, helping leaders to chart new directions in a turbulent economy. She is assisting organizations, in private and public sector settings, as they adopt new scientific and technological advancements, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) systems, destined to transform business models for optimal performance.


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With extensive experience, working directly with Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Clerks of the Privy Council, with Premiers and with many talented public servants, with Presidents, CEOs,  Boards of Directors, civil society and non-profit organizations, Ms. Nicholson-O'Brien's professional networks allow her to bring"best-in-class" experience to bear on your initiatives.

Having served as the head of departmental and Canadian delegations for Canada's participation in international meetings, negotiating key agreements and agendas, often in several languages simultaneously, Ms. Nicholson-O'Brien has worked with numerous international bodies. These include:

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD);

The WorldBank Organization (WBO);

The Organization of American States (OAS) and on CIM;

Caribbean Member Countries and CARICOM;

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ;

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);

The Centre for Education, Research, and Innovation (CERI);

International initiatives with the United States government on justice, global commerce, security and defence;

Public Management Service (PUMA);

United Nations Human Rights Council;

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP);

The European Union and member governments;

International trade missions on behalf of Canada;

Interdepartmental and Intra-governmental Organizing Committees for the Torino, Italy, and, Beijing, China Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games;

International Agreements on Oceans and on Fisheries Management;

International initiatives and agreements on justice, the law, and human rights;

International knowledge management and transfer initiatives.



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Dawn Nicholson-O'Brien has served on many different bodies, with selected examples and functional roles noted here:

As the Agency head of a federal agency;

As a Founding Member of the Conference Board of Canada's Knowledge Management Strategy Centre;

As the Vice President of the Institute on Governance, Governance Laboratory;

As a former member of the Council of Chief Risk Management Officers for the Conference Board of Canada;

As the Chief Risk Officer for a major federal department and for a federal agency;

On the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and the Knowledge Mobilization Committee;

As a contributor to the Queen's University Knowledge Management Forum;

On the International Association of Public Participation Practitioners; on a Canadian dispute resolution practitioner body; as a Harvard-trained negotiator;

As a negotiator of a Billion dollar agreement on economic activity for Canada;

As a contributor to the International Women's Foundation;

As an organizer and advisor for the Association of Professional Executives of Canada and annual conferences;

As a contributor to the Canadian Journalism Foundation;

On the Atlantic Fisheries Conservation Council;

As a contributor to the St. Lawrence Seaway Commission;

As a fundraiser working with corporate sponsors for charitable institutions;

As the Chair of an Innovation Conference and of a Summit;

As the lead on an international survey and research with the OECD;

As the organizer of a major science and technology conference and related federal strategies on science and innovation;

As a key federal spokesperson on major justice, public law, criminal law and Constitutional matters;

As a certified executive coach and as a mentor for leaders and officers in public and private sector settings;

On Executive Committees in the federal government and private sector; at the Director General, Vice President and Agency Head level;

On change management committees federally, departmentally, with other governments and in civil society;

As a senior associate with CWPPL in the School of Public Policy and with CREWW in the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, on advanced leadership programs and development; 

In policy, program, regulatory affairs, central agency, operational, Intergovernmental, International, Ministerial and Executive Services, Communications and Consultation, Risk Management, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer and numerous other Executive roles;

With responsibility for regulatory drafting groups, legislative, regional operations, talent management, finance, audit and evaluation and other groups.



Dawn Nicholson-O'Brien has served in the following organizations/roles


Health and Welfare Canada

Canadian Unity Information Office

Privy Council Office

Finance Canada

Justice and Attorney General Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Treasury Board Secretariat Canada

Canadian Centre for Management Development

Social Development Canada

Human Resources Development Canada

Status of Women Canada

Institute on Governance

Sprott School of Business - Senior Associate

Task Forces/Advisory Bodies

Federal-Provincial-Territorial bodies

International bodies

Task Force to create CSIS

Government of Canada's Senior Visiting Fellow on Knowledge Management and Innovation






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