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Sarah Rosen Wartell

I learned the value of having solid, data-driven analysis to inform policy decisions when I served in the White House. Urban is uniquely positioned to elevate the current debates happening in Washington and in state capitols and city halls across the United States. We have nearly five decades of experience conducting the highest quality policy research, modeling capacity that enables us to assess the potential impacts of a wide range of policy scenarios, and expertise spanning an unparalleled breadth of issues.


Sarah Rosen Wartell became president of the Urban Institute in 2012 and is the third president since Urban was founded in 1968. During her tenure, Urban has articulated its strategy to “elevate the debate” by bringing more of its research insights to federal, state, and local government and practice; becoming a leader in research communications and data visualization; and undertaking an ambitious program of business systems and technology modernization.

Previously, Wartell was deputy assistant to the president for economic policy and deputy director of the National Economic Council. At the US Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1998, she advised the federal housing commissioner on housing finance, mortgage markets, and consumer protection. Later, she was a consultant to the bipartisan Millennial Housing Commission.

After government service, Wartell was the founding chief operating officer and then executive vice president of the Center for American Progress. Her work focused on the economy and housing markets, and she directed the Mortgage Finance Working Group and "Doing What Works" government performance program. Before her tenure in government, she practiced law with the Washington, DC, firm Arnold & Porter.

Wartell currently serves on the boards of the Low Income Investment Fund, Center for Law and Social Policy, and Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. She is also a Penn Institute for Urban Research Scholar. Her areas of expertise include community development, consumer finance, asset building, and housing finance.

Wartell has an AB degree with honors in urban affairs from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She has a JD degree from Yale Law School.


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