Weeks 6 and 7 at the Urban Institute

This week at the Urban Institute I had the privilege to bond with the other interns and meet other Urban Institute members at the summer check-in. We got to see how Urban recruits its interns and the work that fellow colleagues are currently conducting as full-time research assistants.
One intern from Duke is working on broader social policy and the other intern from Rice University, also in LHP, is working on child care practices for working parents.
During this time, the interns had the ability to sit in on a lunch with the CEO. We learned how health care policy impacted the Urban Institute and effects of the political divide. There was a sensationalized moment in the Fall of 2016 when Congress was passing a health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care
Act. The Urban Institute responded with policy updates and information that informed the decision makers about issues with the policy rhetoric. As the health care bills were being updated, Urban Institute, responded by fact-checking the information and providing updated facts about the health policy. We learned about this during the intern luncheon chat from the CEO herself. It was quite a fascinating discussion and input.
Urban Institute has a history of being a figure for fact checking during pivotal times in American history. It was founded as the special project of LBJ, during a time of rapid change in the suburban and metropolitan US. The demographic shift and reliance on solid research is not too different from today’s age. We are experiencing a divided US electorate and more people questioning policy choices and asking for facts and figures.
The essence of the Urban Institute and its purpose as an organization advancing the policy and learning about ways to respond, is what will promote long-term strong policy and more informed constituents.

Weeks 3 and 4– Urban Institute– Center on Labor, Human Services and Population


Weeks of June 3-16.

The quest for knowledge is at an all-time high and well suited at a place like Urban Institute. I immensely enjoy learning more about the Institute and working with Teresa Derrick-Mills, as well as, conversing with my junior buddy and other junior staff during the weekly check-ins. During the staff meetings, I get to learn how each research associate is working towards their goals and meeting expectations. Some have the fortune of being child or family welfare administrators and writing research protocols or requests for budgeting large-scale projects that impact many people. It is fascinating how many tasks and external research the associates are managing at one time. One notable task is working on building stronger fathers in the inner-city neighborhoods in the Bronx to build strong families.

Another special experience was attending the Convening held at Urban Institute by the National Women’s Law Center. The Center and advocates from around the United States met to discuss female and minority empowerment in the work place. They discussed litigation methods and ways to fight discrimination in the work place. The speakers ranged from a PhD in employment litigation, to experts in behavioral analysis and empowerment methods. Some had studied worker representation in the restaurant business, some had studied sex discrimination in the military, some had conducted research on employer retaliation methods and others provided consultancy for workplace inclusivity measures. I found an innate interest in the intersection between human resources and legal compliance within organizations relevant to the Urban Institute as an organization and its research projects.

Finally, the many brown bags offered by Urban Institute include topics from web scraping, to fighting the rising cost of living in poverty and importing data files in R. The opportunities to develop oneself professionally and learn more about American neighborhoods and demographics is so unique.


Week 1 at Urban Institute— Center of Labor, Human Services and Population


Week 1 at the Urban Institute


Day 1 walking into the wide glass doors and spacious marble floor of the Urban Institute located at 500 L’Enfant Plaza in Washington D.C. was impressive. Urban Institute is a non-partisan organization founded by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 as a response to the need for more equitable social science research to develop urban communities. In their “Next 50” campaign Urban Institute sets goals to attain more progress, more funding and more sustainable impacts on the surrounding communities by improving the policy making process with research. My internship concentration is promoting a more diverse research breadth by recruiting more diverse research associates and interns. The ability of the Urban Institute to retain and gain more diverse employees is crucial to developing policy that is more reflective of urban communities.

The other interns are from universities throughout the U.S. and relocated to the DC area for the summer. They work in centers such as labor, human capital and population, urban development and international development. The interns contribute skills in public policy, international relations, data science, economics and business. Throughout the Urban Institute there is a sense of pride in each intern class and junior hires. They are also proud of the research that the associates and senior staff produce in the long term and contribute to public policy as a whole. I am impressed with the academic and research backgrounds of all my colleagues.

This summer, I am joining UNC MPA alumna, Teresa Derrick-Mills (1992) as she contributes to Urban Institutes efforts to improve the diversity of staff composition, equity and inclusion in workforce culture, and diversity and equity-respectful content and language in the research. Teresa is a principal research associate at the Urban Institute who obtained her PhD in public policy and public administration at George Washington University after using her MPA to support early care and education systems-building efforts in North Carolina for 15 years. She now studies early care and education issues, workforce development systems, juvenile justice, and various human services, and supports research and evaluation capacity building for governments and nonprofits.

Each day is a fantastic opportunity to walk through the DC neighborhoods and see famous sites such as the Capitol Building, Jefferson Memorial and the Wharf District.  It truly is remarkable location and place to be interning this summer.

500 L’Enfant Plaza