Dr. Kimberlyn Leary Joins Urban Institute as Senior Vice President

Dr. Kimberlyn Leary newsmaker headshot; woman of color wearing glasses with arms crossed and smiling

Harvard Kennedy School

Dr. Kimberlyn Leary

The Urban Institute has announced Dr. Kimberlyn Leary as the organization’s new senior vice president, responsible for overseeing all research and program development initiatives.

A prominent policy expert and leader, Dr. Leary arrives at the Urban Institute from Harvard University, where she has worked as a professor for 16 years in the Medical School and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She also concurrently served as chief psychologist and director of psychology training at the Cambridge Health Alliance for nearly 12 years.

Dr. Leary’s career includes extensive and high-level public service, having served directly under the office of the President of the United States in multiple capacities.

President Barack Obama hired her in 2014 to serve as his senior policy advisor in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. After ten months in this position, she was then rehired to serve as advisor to the council for the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Dr. Leary further served for nearly six months as a public health and Medicare advisor in the White House Office of Management and Budget beginning in February of 2016. It was around this time that she was also brought on by the nonprofit STEM education improvement organization, National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) as senior advisor to the CEO.

Dr. Leary’s dedicated and distinguished career began after she graduated from the University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She was hired soon after as a staff psychologist at the university’s psychological clinic. Ultimately, she would spend 14 years there, eight of them after becoming associate director. Then she made her move to Harvard to work as an associate professor and continue her own education, earning a master’s degree in public administration and organizational leadership.

“Kim brings leadership, impressive academic credentials, and deep experience at the intersection of science, policy, and practice,” said Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell in a press release. “She has devoted her career to the values at the heart of Urban’s mission: equity, opportunity, and a proven commitment to evidence that improves decisions and outcomes. We are especially glad Kim is joining us at a time when so much needs to be done to rebuild our economy in equitable ways and to dismantle structural racism.”

Dr. Kimberlyn Leary assumes her new position on July 1, succeeding Margery Austin Turner, who announced her plans to step down this summer after ten years in the position.


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