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Elsa Falkenburger
Principal Research Associate
Director, Community Engagement Resource Center
Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
I am an advocate at heart and passionate about informing more responsible and effective public policy. We do that best when we have data that provide a clear understanding of the problem and proof of the kinds of programs and policies that have a real impact on people’s lives.

Elsa Falkenburger is a principal research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute and director of the Community Engagement Resource Center. Her portfolio includes codirecting the Contextual Analysis and Methods of Participatory Engagement project for the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation in the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Promoting Adolescent Sexual Health and Safety project, a sustained partnership with the DC Housing Authority to design and evaluate community-based programming for teens. She regularly provides technical assistance and trainings and develops practical guides to implementing community engaged methods focused on equity.

Falkenburger was formerly the program manager for the Housing Opportunity and Services Together demonstration, has worked with several Promise Neighborhoods, and was part of a team that evaluated the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency program at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Before joining Urban, Falkenburger worked at the Washington Office on Latin America, focused on best practices for addressing youth gangs in Central America and ending the US embargo on Cuba. During graduate school, she worked at the KDK-Harman Foundation, helping grantees develop logic models and performance indicators for evaluating and improving educational programs for marginalized communities. 

Falkenburger has a BA in economics from Boston College and an MPA from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Research Areas
Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
Children and youth
Social safety net
Race and equity
Greater DC
Neighborhoods and youth development
Washington, DC, research initiative
Racial barriers to accessing the safety net
Racial inequities in neighborhoods and community development
Structural racism in research, data, and technology
Community data use