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Sara McTarnaghan
Senior Research Associate
Co-Lead, Climate and Communities Practice Area
Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center

Sara McTarnaghan is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute and practice area co-lead for Urban’s work on climate and communities.

McTarnaghan’s research focuses on climate change and resilience, immigrant inclusion and integration, and urbanization and international development. As a trained urban planner, she examines the connections between the built and natural environments and social and economic outcomes, especially for people and communities disproportionately affected by the increasing frequency and severity of climate impacts and disasters. As a bilingual researcher, she has conducted multiple studies about the inclusion of immigrant communities in the social safety net and state and local policy levers for supporting immigrants. 

Currently, McTarnaghan is overseeing the global outcome evaluation of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, which tracks changes in municipal governance and planning to support resilience in participating cities. Additionally, she is the urban research lead for an evidence-based learning program for the US Agency for International Development that will inform the agency’s urban programming.  

She previously led a comprehensive evidence review of housing policies and practices in Latin America and the Caribbean for Habitat for Humanity as an input to the United Nations Habitat III conference in 2016. Before joining Urban, McTarnaghan worked at the nonprofit TECHO supporting housing and community development interventions across Latin America. She earned an MS in community and regional planning and an MA in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Research Areas
Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
Immigrants and immigration
Climate, disasters, and environment
Global issues
Immigrant access to the safety net
Evidence-based policy capacity
International development and governance