Selected for their critical perspectives to addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges, the Biden-Harris Transition announced key members of its agency review teams, including College of Wooster political science alumna and trustee, Erika Poethig ’93 as team lead for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Members of the agency review teams are responsible for evaluating the operations of federal agencies to prepare the incoming Biden-Harris administration to lead the country from their first day in office.
Poethig, currently on leave from her role as vice president and chief innovation officer for the Urban Institute, previously served as acting assistant secretary for policy, development, and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration. She also served as deputy assistant secretary for policy development and was a leading architect of the White House Council for Strong Cities and Strong Communities. The council provided technical assistance and policy recommendations first to seven pilot cities including Chester, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Fresno, California; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Youngstown, Ohio, to strengthen local economies. They worked to streamline federal resources and regulations and disseminate best practices across departments in commerce, education, health and human services, and transportation.
At the Urban Institute, she leads the Research to Action Lab, which is an innovation hub serving decisionmakers and creative thinkers eager to effect social change. As associate director for housing at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, she developed grantmaking strategies focused on rental housing policy and research on how housing matters. In the 1990s, she was assistant commissioner for policy, resource, and program development at the City of Chicago’s Department of Housing and developed Mayor Richard Daley’s campaign to combat predatory lending, prevent foreclosures, and stabilize communities. 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 metropolitan Chicago.
Majoring in political science at Wooster, Poethig participated in student government, Concert Choir, Wooster Chorus, and contributed to The Wooster Voice. After Wooster, she studied at the University of Vienna as a Fulbright Scholar and later completed her master’s in public policy at University of Chicago with a focus on Urban Inequity. Currently serving on Wooster’s Board of Trustees, Poethig also serves the College as an Alumni Trustee and member of the Alumni Board. She acts on the alumni leadership group in Washington, D.C. and as an Alumni Admissions Advocate, helping to identify, recruit, and welcome new Wooster students. She previously served as president of the Alumni Board, as a Presidential Fellow, as an alumni leader in Chicago, and as a reunion committee member. In addition to Wooster, she serves on the boards of Low Income Investment Fund and Mercy Housing, national nonprofit organizations supporting community development.