Sara Lawrence

Program Director, Economic Development
RTI International
Durham, NC

Sara Lawrence is program director of economic development at RTI. She brings 18 years of experience helping people and places develop strategies, analyze data, and assess promising practice for economic development. Technical specialties include innovation ecosystems, industry diversification, and entrepreneurship for broad-based development. She effectively interacts across all sectors—business, education, nonprofit, and government—to design and evaluate programs with action-specific solutions unique to the community of focus. Ms. Lawrence is adept at readily translating research into practice with proven ability to relate to a wide mix of people, cultures, and context-specific issues as demonstrated by her experience working in 20 U.S. states and in 12 countries spanning 4 continents. She is currently directing a project analyzing ways to strengthen innovation hubs around regional science parks in three regions of Thailand and leading an assessment of the biosciences industry sector in Atlanta Georgia USA.

Before joining RTI, Ms. Lawrence was the manager of policy initiatives at the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University, where her work focused on the intersection of economic development, public policies, and leadership engagement. She also has state-by-state benchmarking experience with the Corporation for Enterprise Development, where she managed the Development Report Card for the States.