Susan Urahn

Susan 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 States’ Retirement-Savings Social Experiment

    Concerned about private-sector employees’ lack of retirement savings and the potential impact on poverty levels, and subsequently on state budgets, legislators in nine states—California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington—have enacted programs designed to remedy both problems. Read More

  • How Much Debt Can a Government Handle?

    Debt financing is a powerful tool for state and local governments, which often rely on borrowed funds to build or repair vital infrastructure. The need for these projects is beyond dispute: The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the roads, bridges, tunnels, schools, hospitals, and underground pipes that taxpayers use need $4.6 trillion worth of investment—only... Read More

  • The New Age of Invention

    • Event

    Philadelphia: From engineering to public policy to the internet, human ingenuity and invention are constantly changing lives. Yet new knowledge—and innovative ways to live and work that are the result of technological change—also presents new dilemmas. On Wednesday, July 19, 2017 contributors to The Pew Charitable Trusts’ latest issue of Trend magazine discussed how modern... Read More

Media Contact

Gaye Williams

Senior Director, Communications