Susan Urahn

Sue Urahn

  • Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts


Susan Urahn oversees all of Pew’s programmatic work, including research, technical assistance and advocacy campaigns in the United States and abroad. As chief program officer, she 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 home town 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. In that role she helped plan, launch and evaluate all of the institution’s grants and Trust-initiated projects, including Pew’s early environmental work in Canada. 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. She has testified before the U.S. Congress and in multiple state houses, and has presented to groups such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Business Roundtable. Before joining Pew, Urahn worked in policy research and evaluation with the Minnesota House of Representatives and at the University of Minnesota.

During her tenure at Pew, Urahn 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 director of the center from 2007 to 2012. Urahn holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a doctorate in education policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.

Recent Work

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  • The Manageable Challenge of Tax Incentives

    Every state uses financial incentives—often in the form of tax credits or cash grants—to encourage business growth and job creation. However, this economic development strategy has also led to serious budget challenges in many states. Read More

  • Government's Role in Helping Americans Save for Retirement

    Most governments provide their employees with some form of retirement savings, but that's a benefit that has been fading away for decades in the private-sector workplace. Today, only 58 percent of full-time private-sector American workers have access to a workplace retirement plan and 49 percent participate in one, according to a recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Read More

  • The Transparency That Public Pensions Need

    The stock market's recent volatility is a continuation of the bumpy ride investors have experienced since the Great Recession. Such swings used to have little direct effect on public pension plans, but that has changed.That's because over the past four decades public pensions, in hopes of boosting investment returns, have shifted funds away from fixed-income investments such as government and... Read More

Media Contact

Gaye Williams

Senior Director, Communications