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Olivia Golden

Olivia Golden

Olivia Golden, an Institute fellow at the Urban Institute, is an expert in child and family programs at the federal, state, and local levels with a special interest in the way services are delivered on the front lines.

Golden first served as an Institute fellow at the Institute from 2004 to early 2007, guiding its Assessing the New Federalism project, which tracked the federal government’s transfer of authority for health and social welfare programs to states. She later shepherded the project’s transformation into a research unit focusing on low-income working families.

During 2007, she oversaw the management of all state government agencies as Eliot Spitzer’s director of state operations in his first year as New York’s governor. She returned to the Urban Institute as a senior fellow in January 2008.

From 2001 to 2004, she was director of the Child and Family Services Agency of the District of Columbia, leading the agency out of federal court receivership. From 1993 to 2001, she served in two presidentially appointed positions within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, first as commissioner for children, youth, and families and then as assistant secretary for children and families. In these roles, she was responsible for over 60 programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start, child care, and child abuse and neglect.

She was also director of programs and policy at the Children’s Defense Fund (1991–1993), a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government at (1987–1991), and budget director of Massachusetts’s Executive Office of Human Services (1983–1985). Her book, Poor Children and Welfare Reform (1992), draws lessons from welfare programs around the country that tried to make a difference to families by serving two generations, both parent and child.

Golden holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where she earned a B.A. in philosophy and government.

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