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Kelly S. Mikelson

Kelly S. Mikelson

Senior Research Associate

My research is motivated by a desire to assess the efficacy of public policies and programs that affect the well-being of low-income individuals, families, and children. Only through a rigorous examination of the effectiveness of income support, workforce development, postsecondary education, and social service programs, can we begin to improve the life chances of all Americans. The Urban Institute is an exciting environment where collaboration and the open exchange of ideas strengthen the quality of the research. Quality research and effective dissemination, in turn, provide us with the best chance to help others.


Kelly Mikelson is a senior research associate in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. With over 15 years of experience conducting quantitative and qualitative research, her work focuses on evaluating workforce development and postsecondary education programs. Her research has included studies of innovative community college programs as well as income support, welfare reform, and social service programs and policies.

Before joining Urban, Mikelson was a research scientist at the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, where she was principal investigator on an evaluation of Austin Community College’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. Mikelson taught social policy to undergraduate and graduate students as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She also worked for the Urban Institute from 1999 to 2004.

She currently works on the National Evaluation of the TAACCCT Grants Program, examining education and career training programs at community colleges as well as a multiyear project assessing the impact of JPMorgan Chase’s key philanthropic initiatives focused on the economic growth of cities, strengthening workforce systems, and achieving household financial stability. Mikelson also evaluates the impact of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants program that provides training in high-demand health care professions to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients and other low-income individuals.

Mikelson earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public policy from Harvard University and her doctorate from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.