Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Faculty Biographies > Faculty Bio

Esty, Sarah

Winter 2021

333 Hutchins

​Sarah Esty’s teaching, research, and professional interests focus on state and local government, health policy, economic policy, federalism, reproductive rights, election law, and voting rights.

Professor Esty currently serves as the Senior Deputy for Policy and Planning at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In that role, Esty oversees a fifty-person office driving priority crosscutting initiatives for the department, including redesign of state’s $3B Medicaid behavioral health system, creation of the 5-year state HIT roadmap, execution of the Social Determinants of Health strategy, and management of backbone technology systems. Esty also serves as a lead for health equity activities, overseeing the Office of Equity and Minority Health, and staffing the Governor’s COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Esty has taken on a senior leadership role for the state’s response. She currently oversees the epidemic order drafting and issuance process, guiding policy development, approvals, communication, and enforcement of statewide orders on topics such as masks and gatherings, nursing home visitation, and testing. She also leads the quarantine/isolation and prevention pillar of Michigan’s COVID response. This responsibility has resulted in her spearheading a diverse array on projects, including distribution of 6M+ free facemasks to the public; establishment of $25M PPE grant program for healthcare businesses; creation of public response hotline, inbox, and chatbot operations that have answered over 200,000 resident questions; design for state isolation hotel model; and standup of test booking and support service navigator hotlines.

Previously, Professor Esty worked as a consultant focusing on healthcare and state/local government projects. In this role she advised state health departments, budget and tax agencies, city and state executives, business coalitions, and state university leaders on topics including Medicaid payment innovation, economic development, organizational design, organizational health and culture, lean process redesign, strategy, and national best practices in healthcare, workforce development, tax, and other areas.

Professor Esty began her career as an advocate and policy researcher for low-income children and families in Connecticut, where she worked with the state legislature and state agencies to improve policies and fund critical programs related to early childhood care and education, healthcare, juvenile justice and workforce development. She has worked on retirement security, local and tribal economic development and the school lunch program at the White House National Economic Council. She oversaw voter protection efforts in seven battleground states as part of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and has worked on a dozen political campaigns in nearly every position, having gotten her start as a campaign manager at age 15.

Professor Esty received her JD and MBA from Yale University. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with an AB in Social Studies, where she was the recipient of the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for her thesis, entitled “Birth of a Wedge Issue: The Party Politics of Abortion in the Roe Era.”