Director, Center for Innovation Strategy and Policy (CISP)
Dr. McFarland has over a decade of leadership experience in regional development, fiscal policy, policy analysis and program development. She is passionate about using data and evidence to improve the economic competitiveness, equity and livability of regions and their communities. Her work is focused on tech-based economic and workforce development, as well as overall strategic and growth planning for the Center.
Prior to joining SRI, she was the Research Director of the National League of Cities, the nation’s largest advocacy, resource and research organization dedicated to strengthening cities. She directed the organization’s research agenda, strategies to support municipal leadership through data, and NLC’s flagship research programs, including City Fiscal Conditions, State of the Cities and Regional Economic Connectivity.
Dr. McFarland also led NLC’s research partnership with the 49 state municipal leagues, research on economic development, municipal finance, workforce development and city-state relationship issues, and NLC’s COVID-19 pandemic response and American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law strategic data initiatives. Dr. McFarland had been with NLC since 2001, and prior to her post as Research Director, launched NLC’s finance and economic development program. She earned a B.A. in Political Science and Economics and Master of Public Policy from The George Washington University, and a PhD in Planning, Governance and Globalization from Virginia Tech.