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Sara Slayton O’Rourke

Partner, Washington DC

Serves governments and private sector organizations on major financial and operational transformations to enhance mission outcomes and improve livelihoods


Sara serves government and private-sector organizations around the world on complex financial and operational transformations to improve outcomes and enhance livelihoods. Her clients include state and local governments, federal agencies, financial services institutions and finance leaders. She brings expertise in fiscal and financial management, budgeting and planning, customer experience, and organizational and operational transformation to enable drastic improvements in outcomes.

Sara also leads McKinsey’s work to improve women’s leadership in the public and social sectors. Before joining the firm, she founded SAIS Global Women in Leadership, an interdisciplinary institute, at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, where she was also the first young alumni advisory board member. Sara has also worked in education and economic development in the Middle East.

Published work

‘Dig once’ could help states manage material and worker shortages,” McKinsey & Company, August 2022

Are states ready to close the US digital divide?,” McKinsey & Company, June 2022

A new era of US infrastructure grants,” McKinsey & Company, May 2022

Navigating the complexity of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” McKinsey & Company, May 2022

Delivering on the promise of federal infrastructure funds in states,” McKinsey & Company, May 2022

Impact officer in chief: The state infrastructure coordinator’s role,” McKinsey & Company, April 2022

The US Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: Reinvesting in water,” McKinsey & Company, February 2022

Stepping up, but risking burnout: Women leaders in the public and social sectors in 2021,” McKinsey & Company, November 2021

The US Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Breaking it down,” McKinsey & Company, November 2021

Tips for new government leaders: Unlocking diversity and inclusion,” McKinsey & Company, February 2021

Navigating the state financial crisis: Moving past business-as-usual planning and budgeting post-COVID-19,” McKinsey & Company, December 2020

Cracking down on government fraud with data analytics,” McKinsey & Company, October 2018

How to accelerate gender diversity on boards,” McKinsey Quarterly, January 2017

Straight talk about gender diversity in the boardroom and beyond,” McKinsey Quarterly, January 2017

Is ‘womenomics’ the key to global growth? A conversation with Goldman Sachs’ Kathy Matsui ’90,” SAISPHERE, January 2014

Past experience

SAIS Global Women in Leadership, Johns Hopkins University
Founder and chair

Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, US Department of State
Student intern

Universal American School, Dubai
Social-studies teacher and varsity-soccer coach

Let’s Go
Editor and travel writer


School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
MA, international finance

Harvard University
BA, social studies