#41 – Michael-dharma Irwin

arlington county va

Michael-dharma Irwin

Arlington County Government – Department of Human Services

Quality Assurance Manager


Clever, Persistent, Elevating

Michael-dharma commands an impressive amount of data – over 80 performance measurement plans across a 700 person department. She’s not interested in data for data’s sake though, and constantly asks what to do with it. She spearheaded an initiative to disaggregate our performance data by race to get a better picture of inequities in resident outcomes. She authored a journal article published by John’s Hopkins detailing the County’s COVID response in light of differing racial outcomes with the hope that other jurisdictions could learn about our efforts and improve on them. Michael-dharma has served as the point person on multiple initiatives, including compiling research on police involvement in mental health crises and assessing the impact of a pilot program giving cash with no strings attached to those in need.

It’s an impressive line-up of achievements, but she still always makes time when someone wants to get her advice. She is a confidant and advisor to people across the department. She gives guidance, fills us with determination, and most importantly pushes us to do better. Because that’s what our community deserves.

Michael-dharma is a brilliant thinker and a kind friend. When I think of the platonic ideal of local government bureaucrat, I think of her. She uses the system to make the system better.

The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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