Ms. Erin McDonald, PhD, MPP, is the Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in Region 3, which serves Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. In this capacity, she leads ACF’s strategic initiatives and priorities to promote the economic well being of children and families in the region.
Prior to joining ACF, Dr. McDonald served in the New York City Mayor’s Office as the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for Human Services where she led a range of cross-cutting policy and programmatic initiatives to advance new innovative, outcomes-oriented solutions to serve vulnerable residents including creation of a human-centered pathways to family economic mobility model, adoption of the largest national municipal Good Food Purchasing program, and expanding flexible procurement policy to improve business continuity of health and human service providers. She served as a leading advisor to the Deputy Mayor and human service agencies in the Coronavirus emergency response and recovery, including standing up a cross-sector older adult health and wellbeing outreach and response network.
Dr. McDonald served as the Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Strategy at Feeding America where she oversaw a team leading national research on food insecurity and played a lead role in shaping the organization’s national strategy to end hunger through financial stability. As Director of Research, Evaluation and Monitoring at Women’s World Banking she worked to expand financial inclusion for millions of women in developing countries by mobilizing global teams partnering with governments, national banking institutions, philanthropy, and social service sector organizations to create new client-centered models for personal saving and economic mobility. In her role as the Director of Research and Strategic Learning at The New York Women’s Foundation, Dr. McDonald cultivated and institutionalized dynamic research approaches to determine effective philanthropic investments to benefit vulnerable women. She was instrumental in leveraging data to catalyze the Young Women’s Initiative in New York City, which then expanded to communities across the nation.
She held positions as a lead researcher at The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. overseeing numerous federal economic mobility and multi-generation demonstration projects, including the US Department of Health and Human Services multi-state, longitudinal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) and the US Department of Labor’s Young-Parents Demonstration Program. In these roles she worked closely with federal officials and state grantees to develop and integrate research activities within human service programs and oversaw technical assistance to all state grantees.
Previously, Dr. McDonald served as a Senior Strategist leading state and local healthcare and child welfare system reforms; within the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services Agency she focused on advancing child wellbeing, creating one of the nation’s first integrated, Medicaid-reimbursable medical clinic and nurse case manager models exclusively supporting children entering the foster care system. Her strong commitment to primary prevention and family engagement solutions led her to become a founder of the first system-mandated Family Group Conferencing (FGC) model in the country where she led development, integration, outcomes research, technical assistance, and publication to expand across multiple states and countries, supporting FGC to become a respected best practice.
She holds a PhD in Public Health and Research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a Master’s in Public Policy and Evaluation from Johns Hopkins Policy Studies Institute and is a trained bioethicist.