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Embry M. Howell

Embry M. Howell

Visiting Fellow

I like taking a hard look at what is already known about health programs, investigating less studied problems, and digging out the hidden factors that explain why we see health disparities or undesirable outcomes (such as low birth weight and infant mortality). I also have eclectic interests and like to study different domains of health, often finding that they are interconnected.


Embry Howell is a nonresident fellow in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she focuses on research and evaluation concerning health programs for vulnerable populations, particularly women and children. She employs both qualitative and quantitative research methods to evaluate these issues, often using administrative records to create research databases. To this end, she helped design the federal Medicaid research database. She is also an accomplished project director, helping direct an evaluation of the San Mateo County adult coverage initiative, evaluations of Children's Health Initiatives in three California counties, a policy analysis of universal vaccine coverage in New York, four studies of children's mental health services, case studies of the health care safety net in five cities, an evaluation of a national infant mortality prevention program, and an evaluation of a demonstration program for pregnant substance abusers. Howell's work has extended beyond the United States to include a stint in sub-Saharan Africa.

Before joining Urban, Howell was vice president of Mathematica Policy Research. She has directed and participated in evaluations of numerous programs, including the national Healthy Start initiative to improve birth outcomes, the more recent evaluation of the Strong Start initiative with comparable goals, and other similar programs. Howell has published numerous, widely cited articles, briefs, and reports concerning birth outcomes, Medicaid, managed care, children’s mental health, and other timely topics.

Howell holds an MSPH from the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health and a PhD in public policy from George Washington University.

Centers & Initiatives

Health Policy Center