Ariel Sankar-Bergmann joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2023, bringing her varied experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs that address household financial security, health and housing, and criminal justice reforms. She views the Foundation’s holistic vision of community health, and her passion for a systems approach that impacts public health and economic security, as a “perfect fit.”
Previously, Ariel served as the director of Ecosystem Change with Prosperity Now of Washington, D.C. In this role, she led technical assistance projects with community-based organizations focused on integrating financial capability services and addressing racial wealth inequalities. Her proudest achievements at Prosperity Now included implementing credit-building programs for youth aging out of foster care; leading a research project on the impact of COVID-19 on debt levels; and helping to launch the Health and Wealth Network, a place for practitioners to explore innovative practice and policies that enhance both health and wealth outcomes.
Earlier, Ariel worked at the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she focused her research on reentry programs and strategies to reduce prison and jail populations. She also served as a parent advocate at the Bronx Defenders, a public defender’s office located in the South Bronx, where she helped advocate for the needs and rights of more than 200 families involved in the justice system.
Ariel, who holds a BA in social sciences from the University of Michigan and a MPA in policy analysis from New York University, credits her mother’s work as a medical anthropologist and her father’s work as a philosopher and social justice advocate, for inspiring her to pursue a career in public health.
Ariel lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, New York, where she enjoys travel and road trips, camping, going to markets in Brooklyn, and enjoying all the amazing foods New York City offers.