Mary Ellen comes from the worlds of both policy and practice. Before joining the Forum in May 2019, she worked at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), playing key roles on their Evidence, Performance, and Community Solutions teams. Towards the end of her tenure at OMB, she led the development and launch of the President’s Management Agenda and helped to co-create the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center. Prior to that she supported place-based approaches as Deputy Director for the White House Task Force on Community Solutions, launched and managed implementation of Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth, and led OMB strategy to support federal Pay for Success policy. She also managed operations of the $32.5 million Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation, which funded pilot projects such as modernizing how states share foster care records, strengthening state and local juvenile justice program effectiveness, and producing replicable tools to help states and localities integrate health and human services systems. Through these combined efforts, she played a critical role in helping to grow government capacity and consensus to work across silos of authority, funding, evidence, and expertise to enable on-the-ground improvements in the lives of disadvantaged youth and families.
Her dedication to smart policy solutions is rooted in her early career providing services to youth and families. For two years, she served as a Regional Coordinator for Global Learning, a non-profit that promotes education as a means for peace and justice in the U.S. and Central America. She then joined Phoenix House of San Diego as a vocational-education counselor for youth in drug and alcohol treatment. Mary Ellen has a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Wellesley College.