Identifying Stakeholders

People working collaboratively at a table.

Stakeholders are individuals of influence within a community and/or organization that have an interest in, or are affected by, environmental public health contamination or hazards. Every community has key stakeholders who serve as gatekeepers and/or key influencers to the rest of the population. Strategically identifying stakeholders increases the chances that your efforts will be well-received by more community members. Once you have identified community stakeholders, create a stakeholder catalogue or map to help you capture their unique attributes.

Unique attributes include:

  • Affiliation
  • Degree of influence
  • Proximity to and relationships with other stakeholders
  • Position on the environmental health issue at hand

Remember, stakeholders may have a diversity of views. Creating a stakeholder catalogue or map will assist you in completing your community profile.

Keep in Mind

Leverage the power of your network! The community and existing state, territorial, local, and tribal (STLT) partners are a great resource for identifying stakeholders. Always ask the community, tribal leaders, and STLT partners you engage if there is anyone else you should talk with or bring to the table.

Where to Start
  • If you are new to a community, do a web search and use your network to get a sense of what organizations and government partners are already on the ground.
  • If you have local contacts, reach out to them to better understand the different players and how they interact with each other.
  • Create and actively maintain a detailed stakeholder catalog.
Tips from the Field

Build relationships with interested individuals to understand their concerns. As you engage with the community, you will learn which individuals live and work in the community. You will begin to identify those who are trusted within their community; have history in the community, particularly around the contamination issue; have influence over the community; and whose views will resonate with the community.

Be aware that some agendas or positions may represent individual views, but not the views of the community at large. Some views may be alienating or insensitive to certain groups within the community.

Make sure that stakeholders are aware that they do not speak on behalf of ATSDR, even if you are working with them.

Engaging the Appropriate Stakeholders

When conducting public health work, you need to ensure you have the right people at the table. The community can help you develop this list as you begin planning. Consider developing a stakeholder catalogue or map to capture important information for possible stakeholders and groups you identify. A sample list of stakeholders is included in ATSDR’s Stakeholder/Partner Outreach Tool. (See resource: ATSDR Communication Tool Kit: Stakeholder/Partner Outreach Tool)

Additional Resources
Page last reviewed: December 15, 2021