Susan K. Urahn

Sue Urahn

  • Executive Vice President
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts


Susan Urahn leads Pew’s efforts to help policymakers identify and implement pragmatic, data-driven solutions to our nation’s toughest challenges. She directs Pew’s nonpartisan research, technical assistance, and advocacy to promote effective and fiscally sound government, enhance family economic security, and prevent unnecessary health risks. This work is resulting in local, state, and federal policy changes that improve Americans’ lives and provide a strong return on their tax dollars.

Urahn 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, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the Business Roundtable.

Urahn joined Pew in 1994 after more than a decade of experience 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.

Recent Work

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  • A Tipping Point on Evidence-Based Policymaking

    In 2012, I wrote in this space about an initiative being piloted in a handful of states to help policymakers, through the use of rigorous evidence and benefit-cost analysis, prioritize funding to programs that are most likely to produce positive results. At the time, many state and local governments were struggling to balance their budgets and policymakers were eager for an alternative to... Read More

  • Why Evidence-Based Policymaking Is Just the Beginning

    State legislatures are turning to evidence-based policymaking as a way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. This is a very important development. For example, many states -- in response to research confirming that the early years of childhood affect learning, behavior and health for a lifetime -- have invested in family support and coaching programs. Read More

  • Corrections Lessons From the States

    The federal prison population has grown nearly 800 percent since 1980 as lawmakers created new criminal penalties, mandated longer sentences and abolished parole. During this period, federal inmates' average time served increased from 15.9 months to 40.1. Taxpayers now spend $6.7 billion each year on federal prisons, with corrections costs growing twice as fast as all other Justice Department... Read More

Media Contact

Gaye Williams

Senior Director, Communications