Katarzyna Batko-Toluc

Citation

This profile was prepared when Katarzyna Batko-Toluc was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
By raising awareness about the mutual benefits gained from citizen participation in public life, Katarzyna is building a new transparent relationship between institutions and citizens throughout Poland. She is implementing the idea of transparency and participatory government at the local level where it is most visible and most needed.

At the citizen level, Katarzyna finds and trains local leaders as “watchdogs” to normalize the behavior of citizens asking for information from their governments and taking an interest in public life. These watchdogs formulate best practices to communicate with public officials, acting as examples for other citizens to engage with their local municipality and develop respect for the new relationships they have co-authored.

At the institutional level, Katarzyna is introducing the practice of public officials inviting citizens to become partners in the governing processes, thereby becoming truly citizen-oriented. Through training developed by Katarzyna, public authorities learn how to effectively listen and respond to citizens’ needs rather than assuming that citizens are challenging their authority.

Through her transparency work, Katarzyna is replacing the culture of secrecy that has prevailed in Poland at the local level. By demonstrating the correlation between community development and transparency, she is introducing a precedent relationship between citizens and local authorities in post-communist countries, which helps prove that a community’s progress is directly correlated to the extent that people have a right to information and can participate in democratic procedures of governing.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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