Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In this section

Our Vision

For more than 50 years, the Urban Institute has delivered data, facts, and insights that have helped strengthen communities and improve people's well-being—especially people for whom access to opportunity remains elusive because of persistent structural and systemic barriers.

For our work to be truly relevant and meaningful, for it to inform actions that ignite change, and for Urban to effectively carry out our mission, it is imperative that our workplace reflects diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. Like so many American institutions, we are not yet where we want be, but we are striving to

  • create an environment where all staff are equitably treated, valued, and included in the work we pursue, no matter their identity, experience, disability status, or role; and  

  • interrogate and mitigate structural racism within our workplace and in our society  

As Urban works to achieve this vision, we routinely ask ourselves where our efforts are failing and how we can do better. We continue to learn from and with each other, and we continue to evolve. We believe doing so is critical to the health, vibrancy, and relevance of the Urban Institute and to the excellence of the data and evidence we produce. 

Our Goals

In 2021, Urban developed a Race and Equity Framework, which builds on efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) that we have engaged in since 2013. The framework outlines Urban’s approach to promoting racial equity and becoming the broadly inclusive institution that we envision. To achieve this, we will seek to 

  • continuously examine our institutional processes, norms, and behaviors to identify, acknowledge, and remedy any practices that are antithetical to advancing equity and inclusion; 

  • expand our capacity to address structural racism and discrimination in our work and deliver research that can help advance racial justice and equity across every domain in which Urban works; and 

  • foster an environment of trust and learning at Urban, provide transparency, promote individual and collective accountability, and encourage an openness to change—even when uncomfortable. 

Detailed work plans, target dates, and measurements of progress will guide how Urban implements the activities outlined in the Race and Equity Framework. We have already begun to carry out some activities even as we continue to develop the implementation plan, our Diversity and Inclusion Roadmap.  

Urban has committed to investing at least $7 million of internal funds through 2022 to address urgent DEI concerns and drive long-term change within our organization, so that all staff—regardless of their race, role, experience, disability status, sexual orientation or gender identity—feel valued, included, and fairly treated.

DEI Supports

The Urban DEI Council helps shape DEI efforts across our institution in partnership with Urban’s affinity groups, departments and policy centers (which develop their own DEI plans) and an external advisor. The 11-member council is also responsible for providing regular “town halls,” where any staff member can raise concerns, propose new ideas and activities, and advocate for change.  

Urban aims to hire a chief equity officer in 2021 to lead and contribute to achieving the diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace we envision.  

DEI Council members

Claudia Aranda, elected member 

Aravind Boddupalli, elected member 

Ben Falk, elected member 

Hadi Jeddy, elected member

DaQuan Lawrence, elected member 

Kimberlyn Leary, DEI officer 

Signe-Mary McKernan, appointed member 

Ebonie Megibow, elected member 

Yasmin Kazzaz, DEI officer 

Sarah Rosen Wartell, chair