Denise Withers

Denise Withers

British Columbia
View All Coaches


I launched my career 35 years ago shooting white-water films – then spent the next twenty years writing and directing documentaries for Discovery Channel. Ninety stories, eight awards and five continents later, reality TV wiped out the doc market, inspiring a career pivot.

I returned to school to study engagement design, earning a Master of Science and a Certificate in Adult Education. In 2010, I joined the b-school at the University of British Columbia, where I co-founded Canada’s first studio for strategic design. As the global demand for design services grew, I discovered new ways to use story to design change and returned to private practice to develop my own tools and techniques.

Since then, I’ve started three innovation labs, and led dozens of design sprints for b-schools, b-corps and governments. Today, my work focuses on finding new ways to combine strategic and story design to help change-makers maximize impact. I’ve taught at universities across Canada, contributed to journals like SSIR and published the book on story design. Recently, I took the ocean conservation agency SeaLegacy from start-up to superpower, doubling its size, reach and impact in less than a year.

Areas of Expertise

Developmental Evaluation, Explore and Experiment, Policy Engagement, Scaling Impact, Social Enterprise

Working Language(s)


Innoweave Clients

Potluck Cafe

Other Clients

SeaLegacy, CPAWS, posAbilities, UBC, SFU, Ryerson, Ontario Cabinet Office, Govt. of Canada, BC Ministry of Health, Fraser Health Authority, Vancouver Economic Commission, Urban Development Institute, City of Surrey, eCampusOntario, IDRC

Contact Information