Patricia Farrell Donahue

Photo of Patricia Farrell Donahue
Titles and Organizations

Adjunct Faculty and Policy Fellow
Schar School of Policy and Government

Contact Information


For more than 20 years, Patricia Farrell Donahue served as a senior research analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), where she led or contributed to over seventy peer-reviewed studies examining federal government policies and programs in such areas as economic, community, and international development; technology; defense; health; labor; education; and finance. 

As a Schar policy fellow, Donahue has given guest lectures on such topics as community development, archival research, northern Virginia history, artificial intelligence, desegregation, program evaluation, and policy research. Her current research projects focus on community participation; crowdsourcing; economic development; history of science; and higher education.

Donahue is the author of Participation, Community, and Public Policy in a Virginia Suburb: Of Our Own Making (Lexington Books, 2017). The book has received very positive reviews and was awarded the 2018 Ross Netherton Book Prize for History.

Donahue received a BA in chemistry from Wheaton College (Norton, Massachusetts), a MA in public policy from Georgetown University, and a PhD in public policy from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. Her dissertation, "We, the Community: A Study of Participation, Community and Public Policy," received the 2014 Joseph L. Fisher Award for Best Dissertation and Academic Achievement. In 2022, Donahue was a US Fulbright Scholar at Tampere University, Finland.

Areas of Research

•    Participation, Public Policy, and Democracy 
•    Community, Economic, and Urban Development
•    Inequality, Diversity, and Poverty
•    Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) 
•    Crowdsourcing and Sustainability
•    Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods