Erika C. Poethig is Institute Fellow and Director of Urban Policy Initiatives at the Urban Institute. In this role, she assembles experts from throughout the Institute to tackle policy challenges facing urban America in the 21st century. She leads efforts to better use the Institute’s vast resources to inform mayors, county executives, and local civic leaders across regional economies who are working on the ground to spur growth, expand opportunities, and improve the lives of people in their communities. She is also developing new clusters of work that examine how specific populations are affected by a range of policies.
Most recently, Poethig served as acting assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she led 150 staff responsible for research, policy analysis and program development assistance, and information collection and analysis on housing needs, economic conditions, and housing market conditions at the regional, metropolitan, and local levels. She was also a leading architect of the White House Council for Strong Cities and Strong Communities. Poethig has also served as deputy assistant secretary for policy development. At the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, she was associate director for affordable housing. She also served as assistant commissioner for policy, resource and program development at the City of Chicago’s Department of Housing. In the late 1990s, she developed Mayor Daley’s campaign to combat predatory lending, prevent foreclosures, and stabilize communities. She also led city support for a newly created state-issued tax credit for donations to not-for-profit organizations developing affordable housing. Previously, she was associate project director of the Metropolis Project, which produced the Metropolis 2020 agenda for regional leadership around the major issues faced by the metropolitan Chicago area. Poethig was a Phi Beta Kappa from the College of Wooster, a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Vienna, and graduated with honors with a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.