Ruth Urban was born November 16, 1948 in Los Angeles, California. At the age of ten, she moved to Las Vegas, Nevada with her mother and older sister. Urban spent most of her childhood in the Huntridge area and was always involved with Temple Beth Sholom. After graduating from Las Vegas High School, Urban attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she received a bachelor’s degree in social work, and later, a master’s degree in counseling.
Urban’s first job out of college was with a family service agency, while she also worked a part-time for Clark County’s juvenile court, where she was the first woman to have a male caseload. She was soon recruited by the district court to investigate contested custody cases. Urban remained with the district court for seventeen years, dedicating herself to promoting the strategy of mediation, based upon parental empowerment, to resolve cases. Her subsequent position was creating the Neighborhood Justice Center, which relied heavily on volunteers trained in mediation; she also created the Culture of Peace program to integrate mediation into schools.
In 1998, Urban left public service to start her own consulting firm, The Urban Group, to provide facilitation services to organizations to assist with strategic planning, process improvement, and employee and leadership development. Urban has also been a strong leader within the Jewish community and at Congregation Ner Tamid. She was a founding member of Jewish Family Services and later served as the organization’s president. Additionally, she has served as Sisterhood president where she reinvented a dormant cookbook project as well as started the Jewish Women in the Arts program.