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Senior Associate

Dr. Lisa McDonald is a natural resource economist with more than 25 years of experience in environmental compliance and policy.  She has led the development of both economic impact tools used to evaluate large investment decisions and conceptual models to evaluate benefits of restoration projects. Dr. McDonald also has led or completed several socioeconomic and environmental justice impact analyses for various projects, including evaluating changes in land use policies, watershed management studies, restoration projects, and energy and infrastructure development. She often applies various economic analysis techniques in these studies, including economic impact analysis, benefit-cost analysis, financial modeling, and market and non-market valuation.

Dr. McDonald is currently leading Abt’s efforts to help the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) develop a cumulative impact assessment (CIA) framework. She is overseeing 18 staff who are evaluating appropriate environmental, socioeconomic, and public health indicators to include in the CIA; developing a risk screening tool and guidance in support of new regulations; and supporting MassDEP’s community engagement activities, including developing content and presenting to stakeholders. In addition to staff management, she is responsible for client engagement and quality control on the project.

Dr. McDonald has conducted economic analysis studies focused on various natural resource or infrastructure issues. Throughout her career, she has directed or been the lead economist on highly visible and controversial projects subject to close public scrutiny or technical peer review. She led the development of an economic impact tool for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to evaluate changes in jobs and income resulting from investments in USACE programs and projects. She led the development of a conceptual model to evaluate the benefits of restoration projects after Hurricane Sandy.


  • Socioeconomics
  • Environmental Justice
  • Benefit/Cost Analysis
  • Economic Impact Analysis
  • Project Management

Key Projects:


  • McDonald, Lisa, “A Holistic Statewide Approach to Understanding Pollution Issues.” Route Fifty. April 15, 2022.
  • Smith, V. Kerry; W. Douglass Shaw; Michael P. Welsh; Chris Dixon; and Lisa McDonald, “A New Strategy for Benefits Transfer that Unmasks Important Assumptions.” Environmental and Resource Economics. Vol. 81 (Issue 1), 2022, pp. 155-178.
Lisa McDonald