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.

June 26, 2019

The Next Step States Need to Take to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Making medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder more readily available is a cost-effective, life-saving strategy. Some states are showing the way.
March 6, 2019

The Role of Efficient Regulation in Building Vibrant Economies

Some states are finding ways to make rules easier to navigate and less costly for business while continuing to protect the public's interests.
November 6, 2018

The Modernization Our Civil Legal System Needs

Technology can help people who don't have lawyers and make courts more efficient.
July 31, 2018

Why Our Public Pensions Need Stress Tests

It can help policymakers prepare their retirement systems for the next downturn while building long-term sustainability.
April 11, 2018

The States’ Retirement-Savings Social Experiment

Many of them are implementing or seriously considering savings plans for private-sector workers. At stake are both the states' and their residents' fiscal well-being.
September 27, 2017

How Much Debt Can a Government Handle?

Debt-affordability studies are a powerful tool for prudent borrowing. Some states are making good use of them.
June 21, 2017

How States Can Make the Most of Their Rainy Day Funds

They can effectively smooth economic bumps. But it's important to have clear rules for how and when to use the money.
March 22, 2017

Before the Flood: the Value of Mitigation

There's much that governments can do to lessen the impact of the natural disasters that are becoming increasingly common.
December 7, 2016

A Robust Vision for Using Data in Government

State and local decision-makers are learning to harness it as a strategic asset.
August 24, 2016

The Manageable Challenge of Tax Incentives

They don't have to produce fiscal uncertainty. States are finding ways to bring these important economic development tools under prudent controls.
June 1, 2016

Government’s Role in Helping Americans Save for Retirement

As states begin stepping in to fill a void left by private employers, there are management challenges to keep in mind.
February 16, 2016

The Transparency That Public Pensions Need

Pension investments are increasingly complex, but disclosure standards have not kept pace.
October 27, 2015

A Tipping Point on Evidence-Based Policymaking

More and more, governments are turning to data to answer a crucial question: What works?
July 28, 2015

Why Evidence-Based Policymaking Is Just the Beginning

In delivering social services and other programs, measuring effectiveness is critical.
April 28, 2015

Corrections Lessons From the States

As they search for ways to reduce incarceration and improve public safety, federal policymakers can look beyond the Beltway for inspiration.
January 27, 2015

The Barriers to Shared Data and How to Overcome Them

Promising new approaches have emerged to overcome rules that inhibit the sharing of information critical to evidence-based policymaking.
October 8, 2014

What States Should Do to Keep Their Cities Out of Bankruptcy

To head off problems before they become crises, states need to monitor their local governments' finances and borrowing practices.
June 25, 2014

The Road Hazards Ahead for Transportation Funding

A decade-long revenue decline is about to get worse.
April 2, 2014

The Blurry Future of Health-Care Spending

The nation has been seeing a slowing in the rise of health-care costs. Whether the fiscal pressures on governments will ease remains to be seen.
January 8, 2014

Will States Be Ready for the Next Recession?

With revenue on the upswing, now is the time for states to set money aside to cope with the next downturn. But they also should take steps to dampen revenue volatility.
October 2, 2013

The Immigration Debate We're Not Having

No matter what Washington does, it will fall to the states and localities to address the social, fiscal and economic effects. We need to talk about how that will play out.
June 12, 2013

When Local Governments' Pensions Are Beyond Their Control

Many cities and counties are tied to state pension systems. That can be a liability, but it also can be an asset.
March 27, 2013

Building an Election System that Works

A new tool gives administrators and policymakers crucial benchmarking data they need to make the voting process fair, accurate and convenient.
January 16, 2013

Collaboration, Technology and the Lessons of Election Day

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.
October 31, 2012

The Unknown Impact of Federal Fiscal Decisions

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.
August 22, 2012

The Power of Incentives for Performance

Corrections is one area in which a handful of states and their local governments are seeing big improvements in results — and saving millions in the process — through a novel funding approach.
June 13, 2012

Showing the Way on Tax Incentives

States generally don’t measure whether the billions of dollars in tax breaks they hand out for economic development are working. But there are some worthwhile efforts under way.
April 11, 2012

Technology for a 21st-Century Democracy

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.
February 1, 2012

The Cost-Benefit Imperative

A group of states is adapting a successful model to target scarce funds for the greatest return on investment.