Maria Cancian is Dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Her research considers the dynamic between public policies and family wellbeing—both how policies shape choices and outcomes for families, and how family change creates new challenges and opportunities for public policy. Ongoing projects analyze the interactions of the incarceration, child welfare and child support systems, as well as the implications of multiple partner fertility for family organization and policy.
She has advised local, state, and federal agencies on policy initiatives designed to improve outcomes, especially for low income and otherwise vulnerable families. Most recently, she served as a Principal Investigator for the national Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED), and, as a Casey Family Programs Senior Fellow, worked with the City of New York on innovative efforts to improve coordination between the child welfare and child support systems.
Cancian is the former President of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM), and was elected as the 2018 John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Prior to joining Georgetown University Cancian was a Kellett Professor, and served as Associate Dean for Social Sciences and Fiscal Initiatives, and as Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also served as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the HHS Administration for Children and Families, in the Obama Administration, as a Casey Family Programs Senior Fellow, a W. T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow in residence at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and a Visiting Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. She received her doctorate in Economics from the University of Michigan.