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Sarah Rosen Wartell, Think Tank Executive and Housing Finance Expert, to be the Urban Institute's Third President

Document date: December 20, 2011
Released online: December 20, 2011


Sarah Rosen Wartell, a public policy executive and housing markets expert who co-founded the Center for American Progress (CAP) and serves as its executive vice president, will become the third president of the Urban Institute at the end of February.

Contact: Stu Kantor, (202) 261-5283, skantor@urban.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 20, 2011 — Sarah Rosen Wartell, a public policy executive and housing markets expert who co-founded the Center for American Progress (CAP) and serves as its executive vice president, will become the third president of the Urban Institute at the end of February.

Sarah Rosen WartellWartell succeeds Robert D. Reischauer, who has led the 43-year-old independent, nonpartisan research organization since 2000. Wartell's appointment was announced by Joel Fleishman, chairman of the Urban Institute's board of trustees.

"In Sarah Rosen Wartell, the Urban Institute has found a president who is widely respected for her strategic leadership, pace-setting innovations, and policy expertise," said Fleishman, director of Duke University's Heyman Center for Ethics, Public Policy, and Professions. "Sarah's stature, vision, and ability to reach all parts of the public policy community will enable her to build on Bob Reischauer's great legacy and take the Urban Institute to new levels of insight and impact."

"The Urban Institute is a treasure trove of expertise, analytical tools, and independent research relevant to the hard choices ahead on housing, retirement, health, taxes, and other issues," Wartell said. "I am thrilled to join these talented scholars and researchers and those who enable their work. I want to help ensure that policymakers of all stripes can use these resources to improve outcomes and the public's return on investment from shrinking funds."

The Urban Institute has been a leader in developing evidence-grounded responses to some of America's most urgent policy challenges since its founding in 1968. Federal, state, and local policymakers rely on the Institute's rigorous analysis and sophisticated forecasting tools to evaluate programs and assess competing alternatives. Its 10 policy centers conduct seminal research on such issues as health care costs and access, taxes and budgets, immigration, family poverty and opportunities for upward mobility, criminal justice and prisoner reentry, neighborhood disinvestment and distress, unemployment and economic recovery, and effective local governance in developing countries.

"Passing the torch after 12 years to the next president has been made immeasurably easier by the board's choice," said Reischauer. "Sarah will bring to this challenging and immensely rewarding position the energy, commitment, and policy expertise needed to make research serve policy and policy serve the public good."

Wartell helped to found CAP in 2003, serving as its first chief operating officer and general counsel. Later, as executive vice president, Wartell oversaw CAP's policy teams and fellows, who work on economic, domestic, energy, and national security issues. Her own work's focus was on the U.S. economy and housing markets, and she directed CAP's Mortgage Finance Working Group and "Doing What Works" government performance program.

Before her tenure at CAP, Wartell was President Bill Clinton's deputy assistant for economic policy and the deputy director of his National Economic Council. In the White House from 1998 to 2000, she led over a dozen interagency working groups, negotiated legislation, and managed administration policymaking in housing and community development, financial markets and banking, insurance, consumer protection, pensions, tort reform, and other areas.

In various positions at the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1998, Wartell advised the federal housing commissioner on housing finance, mortgage markets, and consumer protection.

Wartell practiced law with the Washington, D.C., firm of Arnold & Porter, was a visiting scholar and adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and was a consultant to the bipartisan Millennial Housing Commission.

Wartell is on the boards of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, Center for Law and Social Policy, and Low Income Investment Fund. She earned an A.B. degree with honors in urban affairs from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She holds a J.D. degree from Yale Law School.

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance challenges facing the nation. It provides information, analyses, and perspectives to public and private decisionmakers to help them address these problems and strives to deepen citizens' understanding of the issues and tradeoffs that policymakers face.

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