Susan K. Urahn is executive vice president and chief program officer for The Pew Charitable Trusts. She oversees all of Pew's programmatic work, including research, technical assistance and advocacy campaigns in the United States and abroad, and manages a diverse mix of projects including health, state, consumer and environmental policy initiatives; efforts to advance biomedical and environmental research; and support for Pew's hometown of Philadelphia.
Urahn joined Pew in 1994 as a key member of Pew's planning and evaluation division and directed the department from 1997 to 2000. She subsequently managed a growing portfolio of projects designed to help policymakers at all levels of government identify and implement pragmatic, data-driven solutions to policy challenges.
Urahn has testified before the U.S. Congress and in multiple statehouses, and has presented to groups such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Business Roundtable. During her tenure at Pew, she has led important pieces of Pew's research and public-policy portfolio, including projects on pre-K education, fiscal and economic policy, and biomedical health research. She helped launch the Pew Center on the States in 1998 and served as its director from 2007 to 2012.
Before joining Pew, Urahn worked in policy research and evaluation with the Minnesota House of Representatives and at the University of Minnesota. She holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and a doctorate in education policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.
Last year's elections demonstrated how teamwork between governments and the technology sector can make voting information more accessible, save taxpayer dollars and improve the efficiency of the voting process.
The "sequester" and other looming federal budget actions will affect governments at every level. These fiscal decisions will be made without adequate data and without the intergovernmental forums we need.
The outdated systems we use to register voters are often inaccurate, costly and inefficient. A new collaboration among states promises to go a long way toward bringing these systems into the modern age.