About Us Authors and Staff

Sara McTarnaghan

Sara McTarnaghan

Research Associate


Sara McTarnaghan is a research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she researches urban resilience, affordable housing, and nonprofit capacity building. She has conducted evaluations for federally funded initiatives such as Strong Cities, Strong Communities. She is research deputy for the monitoring and evaluation of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program to measure municipal governance and planning resilience outcomes in participating cities. McTarnaghan led a comprehensive evidence review of housing policy and practice in Latin America and the Caribbean for Habitat for Humanity as an input to the United Nations Habitat III conference in 2016. She is the lead urban research specialist on an evidence-based learning program for the US Agency for International Development to inform urban programming.

In addition to her research and evaluation portfolio, McTarnaghan provides training and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations on data use and evaluation. Since 2015, she has managed Urban’s efforts to provide technical assistance to US Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods grantees. Additionally, she plays a leadership role on Urban’s Measure4Change initiative to build performance management and evaluation capacity among DC and Baltimore-area nonprofits through intensive technical assistance, curricula development, grantmaking, and peer-network development.

Before joining Urban, McTarnaghan worked at the nonprofit Techo in Santiago, Chile, on regional housing and community development programs. She holds 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.