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Sarah Rosen Wartell

I learned the value of having solid, data-driven analysis to inform policy decisions when I served in the White House. Urban is uniquely positioned to elevate the current debates happening in Washington and in state capitols and city halls across the United States. We have nearly five decades of experience conducting the highest quality policy research, modeling capacity that enables us to assess the potential impacts of a wide range of policy scenarios, and expertise spanning an unparalleled breadth of issues.


In 2012, Sarah Rosen Wartell became the third president of the Urban Institute since it was founded in 1968. Urban is an economic and social science research and policy organization whose more than 450 researchers, experts, and other staff believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. During her tenure, Urban has articulated its strategy to “elevate the debate” by bringing more of its insights from research to federal, state, and local government and practice; becoming a leader in research communications and data visualization; and undertaking an ambitious program of business systems and technology modernization.

Previously, Wartell was deputy assistant to the president for economic policy and deputy director of the National Economic Council. At the US Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1998, she advised the federal housing commissioner on housing finance, mortgage markets, and consumer protection. Later, she was a consultant to the bipartisan Millennial Housing Commission.

After government service, Wartell was the founding chief operating officer and then executive vice president of the Center for American Progress. Before her tenure in government, she practiced law with the Washington, DC, firm Arnold & Porter.

Wartell serves on the board of Enterprise Community Partners and on Bank of America’s National Community Advisory Council. She previously served on the boards of the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Low Income Investment Fund, the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University, and the Corporation for Enterprise Development. Her areas of expertise include community development, consumer finance, asset building, and housing finance.

Wartell has an AB degree with honors in urban affairs from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. She has a JD degree from Yale Law School.

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