Sara McTarnaghan is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute and colead for the Climate and Communities practice area. Her research focuses on the intersection between climate resilience and affordable housing, as well as local and regional approaches to equitable resilience planning and disaster recovery. 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.
McTarnaghan is leading work funded by HUD on postdisaster outcomes of renters and the National Academies of Sciences on planning for the health impacts of climate change in overburdened Gulf Coast communities. She recently oversaw the global outcome evaluation of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, which tracked changes in municipal governance and planning. Additionally, she was the urban research lead for a US Agency for International Development program that will inform the agency’s urban resilience programming. McTarnaghan is skilled in spatial and qualitative research methods and program evaluation. She has extensive experience conducting interviews and focus groups in both English and Spanish.
Before joining Urban, McTarnaghan researched affordable housing preservation in transit corridors in Austin and worked at the nonprofit TECHO on fundraising and program development. She earned a BA from the George Washington University and an MS in community and regional planning and an MA in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.