David Elton is a professor emeritus of the University of Lethbridge, where he was a faculty member for 27 years. From 1980 to 1997, he served as President of Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based public policy think tank. From 1997-2016, he was President of Max Bell Foundation. He continues to serve on the Boards of a number of national research and public-policy oriented organizations.
In June 2014, Dr. Elton was named a Member of the Order of Canada for dedicating his academic life to political reform, most especially senate reform; and his outstanding work in changing the landscape of Canadian philanthropy.