Susana Mendoza Birdsong, MA

Administration and Knowledge Management Officer

Susana Mendoza Birdsong has over ten years of experience with family planning programs at IRH. She is responsible for supporting the overall administration of the Institute, including contractual, personnel, logistics and travel matters, as well as supporting knowledge sharing and internal staff skill-building. Susana holds a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University and speaks French and Spanish.

Jeannette A. Cachan, MA, M.Ed

Director of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance; Research Instructor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgetown University Medical Center

Jeannette Cachan is a research instructor with 20 years of experience working in family planning programs. At IRH, she has developed and implemented training strategies for youth, family planning and HIV/AIDS projects, and is responsible for designing, developing and evaluating appropriate solutions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of learning, performance and instruction for different reproductive health initiatives. Jeannette also supports IRH technical assistance efforts in the field. She received an MA in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of Maryland, and a M.Ed in instructional design and technology from George Mason University. 

Franccesca Cesti-Browne, MPA

Director of Finance and Operations

Franccesca Cesti-Browne has over 10 years of experience in finance, operations and contract management. She also has over 8 years of experience in program management, grant writing and business development. Franccesca holds a master’s in Public Administration from Florida International University.  As the Director of Finance and Operations, she leads the team that supports the Institute’s operating functions: HR, Contracts, IT, Field Operations, Administration and Finance. Franccesca manages the Institute’s annual budget, provides leadership and strategic management to all administrative, financial and operational functions.

Sandra Chipanta, MPH

Program Officer

Sandra Chipanta has over six years of experience in the management and implementation of international development interventions in Africa (Benin, Niger, and Togo) and in Asia (Bangladesh and Nepal). She has worked in the areas of maternal, newborn, and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS. At IRH, Sandra manages the Fertility Awareness for Community Transformation (FACT) Project in Nepal and reviews French translations. Prior to joining IRH, she supported capacity building activities for social franchises in Francophone West Africa and Madagascar. Sandra obtained her BA from Mount Holyoke College and MPH from George Washington University. Originally from Togo, she is fluent in both French and Ewe.

Nana Apenem Dagadu, MPH

Senior Program Officer; Research Instructor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgetown University Medical Center

Nana Apenem Dagadu obtained an MPH with a concentration in Reproductive Health and International Health and Development from Tulane University and has over eight years of experience in programming and research in the U.S. and Africa on a range of issues from sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, to emergency relief and assistance. At IRH, she supports monitoring, learning, and evaluation, research, and technical assistance efforts across projects. Nana’s current research focuses on transforming social norms to prevent gender-based violence, eliminate health disparities, and empowering adolescents throughout the life course. She is most enthused by her work documenting systematic approaches of scaling up evidence-based programs that expand reproductive choice and improve lives. Currently, Nana is pursuing a DrPH in Health Education at Loma Linda University. She speaks French, Ga, Twi, and German.

Lauren DuComb, MPH

Program Associate

Lauren DuComb provides programmatic support to the GREAT Project, and the EDEAN and WALAN solutions under the FACT Project in Uganda. Prior to joining IRH, Lauren’s academic experience included research in social and behavioral theories of global health and health disparities. Lauren holds a BSPH from the University of South Florida and an MPH in International Health and Development with a concentration on maternal and child health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Laura Evaenes, BS

Finance Officer

Laura Evaenes is a business strategist who has worked in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. She has experience ranging from political campaigns to foreign investment consulting abroad. At the Institute, she supports financial and operational activities. Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Maryland.


Victoria H. Jennings, Ph.D

Director, Principal Investigator of the FACT Project, and Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgetown University Medical Center

Dr. Jennings, an anthropologist whose academic interests focus on health behavior and culture change, has 30 years experience in the international family planning and reproductive health field. She is a recognized leader in fertility awareness as well as in research, capacity building, and scaling up health interventions. She is responsible for overall direction of the Institute and serves on numerous boards and task forces on international health issues.

Monica Giuffrida, BA

Program Associate

Monica Giuffrida provides programmatic support to the FACT and Tékponon Jikuagou projects as well as country-level operations support to IRH programs in Rwanda. Prior to joining the team, Monica was a research intern at IRH for the Tékponon Jikuagou, A3, and GREAT projects. She received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in French Studies and Medicine, Health, and Society.

Sammie Hill, BJ

Communications Associate 

Sammie Hill is a communications generalist who works across projects at IRH. Sammie supports teams in creating and disseminating a wide range of materials including program tools, presentations, and webinars. She generates content for the Institute’s digital channels and contributes to internal communications efforts. Prior to joining IRH, Sammie worked as Digital Media Specialist for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She holds bachelor’s degrees in International Peace Studies and Journalism from the University of Missouri and studied Arabic through the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship program in Tunisia.

Brianán Kiernan, MSc

Program Officer 

Brianán works on the Passages Project at the Institute, providing project management and coordination support to the Growing up GREAT! and realist evaluation studies, as well as the Very Young Adolescents Task Team. Prior to joining the IRH, she worked on the Access Programs team at the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Brianán began her career in Tamale, Ghana where she oversaw the operations of Saha Global’s Ghana offices and developed her interests in women’s empowerment and adolescent sexual and reproductive health. She holds an MSc in Global Health from Trinity College Dublin and her BA in International Studies from Boston College.

Elizabeth Kilwake

Office Assistant

Elizabeth Kilwake has over 20 years of experience with office and staff assistance. She collaborates with all staff to ensure efficient daily functioning of the office. While her primary responsibilities are administrative, she also supports the Capacity Building and IEC teams with training and technical assistance. Elizabeth received her AA degree in Early Childhood Education from Montgomery College.

Rebecka Inga Lundgren, MPH, PhD

Director of Research; Research Instructor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgetown University Medical Center

Dr. Lundgren has over 25 years of comprehensive, hands-on experience developing and testing reproductive health and behavior change programs, with particular interest in expanding family planning choice, youth and engaging men in reproductive health. Rebecka’s current research interests include systematic approaches to scale-up,  social barriers to family planning use and prevention of gender-based violence. As an applied anthropologist, she has expertise applying qualitative and ethnographic methods to her work, and has developed innovative mixed method approaches to evaluate fertility awareness and gender transformation programs for very young adolescents. She received an MPH from UCLA’s School of Public Health in the Department of Population and Family Health in 1987, and her doctorate in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Courtney J. McLarnon-Silk, MSc

Program Officer

Courtney brings has over six years of experience in international development, coordinating and managing initiatives related to gender equality and mainstreaming, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment. At the Institute, Courtney works on the Passages project, focusing her time on project management, management of the Transforming Masculinities/Masculinite, Famille et Foi intervention, and on establishing regional Communities of to strengthen regional work on normative change
for AYSRH. Courtney also manages the Institute’s​ ​ongoing​ ​work on bringing CycleTel to market. She received an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and a BA from McGill University. Originally from Montreal, Canada, she speaks fluent French.

Penny Reyes Mendoza, BSC

Financial Manager

Penny Mendoza has substantial experience managing the financial activities of the Institute. She is experienced in handling the general ledger and accounts for financial and external audit purposes. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Penny was a licensed CPA working for an accounting firm in the Philippines, examining financial statements of both profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Lizzy Menstell, BA

Program Associate

Lizzy Menstell provides programmatic support to the FACT Project and REAL Fathers Initiative. Prior to IRH, she supported sexual and reproductive health, youth advocacy, and human rights initiatives in both Washington, DC and Nairobi, Kenya. Most recently, she supported communications activities at Advocates for Youth and the development of a high-level international event at USAID. Lizzy has a Bachelor of Arts in International Development and Public Health from American University.

Sophie Huber Savage, MPS

Communications Manager

Sophie Huber Savage is a communication strategist and visual designer with six years of experience in the field of global health and development. At the Institute, Sophie supports all research initiatives and teams with communications strategic visioning, product conceptualization and visual identity packaging. She is responsible for producing and disseminating high quality digital, print and creative products, managing branding compliance and carrying out website, blog and social media engagement. Additionally, Sophie coordinates communication skill-building across staff and manages conference and event planning for the Institute. She holds a Master’s degree in social impact communication from Georgetown University and a BA from Houghton College in communications and international development.

Dominick Shattuck, PhD

Senior Research Officer and Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgetown University Medical Center

Dr. Shattuck has 20 years of development experience, focusing on rigorous public health research, implementation science approaches, and behavior change interventions that increase access to health services, education and economic opportunity. With vast experience leading social behavioral research projects around the world in the areas of HIV, gender, and family planning, Dr. Shattuck prioritizes collaborative work with government officials and grassroots organizations to define locally relevant solutions. At IRH, Dr. Shattuck leads the FACT Project’s work in Nepal, developing family planning messages and game-based approaches. As a known champion for the inclusion of men in reproductive health work, he is an active advocate of vasectomy services, publishing research articles, blogs, presentations and other thought pieces for a variety of audiences. Dr. Shattuck received PhD from NC State University in Psychology, his B.A. in History from Clark University. He speaks Amharic (Ethiopian National Language).

Tim Shand, PhD, MPH

Senior Research Officer; Research Instructor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgetown University Medical Center
Tim Shand has over a decade of experience providing leadership on gender equality and gender justice initiatives. He works at Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health as the Deputy Director and Technical Director of the USAID Passages Project. Tim previously served as Director of International Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Programs for a South African NGO, Sonke Gender Justice, which seeks to scale-up interventions in Africa that engage men in promoting gender equality, and preventing HIV and gender-based violence. In addition, Tim has worked with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and the World Health Organization.


Bryan Shaw, PhD, MPH

Senior Research Manager

Dr. Bryan Shaw has over a decade of international health and development experience, focusing on rigorous public health research and behavior change interventions. At IRH, Bryan works as a senior research officer, largely providing strategic leadership and quality control for research studies under the Passages Project. He received his PhD from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in International Health and also holds a MPH and MS in Applied Medical Anthropology. Bryan worked previously with Population Services International (PSI), UNICEF, and USAID.

Victoria Shelus, MEM

Research Officer

Victoria Shelus obtained her MEM from Duke University through the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Duke Global Health Institute with a focus on environmental health and geospatial analysis. With over four years of experience in programming and research, she has supported reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in the U.S., Africa and Asia.  At the Institute, Victoria primarily supports FACT Project research activities in Rwanda, India, and Uganda.

Rebecca Simmons, MPH, PhD

Senior Research Officer 

Rebecca Simmons is a reproductive health researcher with an MPH in public health from the University of Utah. With over seven years of experience in public health research both domestically and internationally, her interests are concentrated on issues of informed choice, fertility awareness, and using systems and rights-based approaches to improve women’s health. At IRH, her current research primarily focuses on fertility awareness and mobile technology through the FACT project.

Esther Spindler, MS

Research Officer

Esther Spindler is a researcher practitioner with over seven years experience in global health and international development. Esther’s background is in mixed-methods research and M&E in the areas of gender and masculinities, immigrant populations, family planning and HIV/AIDS. At IRH, Esther supports research activities for the FACT project in Uganda and Jordan. She served as a Healthy Homes Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 2009 to 2012, and is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and French. She holds an M.S. in Development Management from American University, and B.S. in Political Science from SUNY Oneonta.

Mercedes Valldeperas, BS

Information Technology Manager

Mercedes Valldeperas has over 25 years of experience in computer science. She serves as the Institute’s Information Technology Manager. In this role, Mercedes plans, implements, supports, and monitors technological strategic solutions in addition to creating contingency plans and disaster recovery procedures. She also designs and analyzes software applications and multi-relational databases for research, and oversees the maintenance of organizational systems and databases. Mercedes serves as the Institute liaison with Georgetown University’s Information Systems.

Lauren VanEnk, MPH

Program Officer

At IRH, Lauren Van Enk manages several family planning and reproductive health programs in Africa. She has over nine years of experience working in design, implementation and management of global reproductive and maternal health projects. She provides technical guidance in community-based family planning as well as training design for providers. Lauren is particularly passionate about building the capacity of faith-based organizations and religious leaders in family planning and has provided this support across several countries in Africa. Focusing on disseminating research and program results, Lauren has authored and contributed to many of IRH’s articles, reports, and curricula. She believes IRH is uniquely poised to address global family planning challenges by enabling both women and men to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. She holds a Master’s degree in Global Public Health from George Washington University and a BA from Calvin College. Her past experiences involve research in reproductive health and HIV/AIDS with BRAC University in Bangladesh, advocacy in global maternal health, and nutrition education.

Christina Williams, BA

Senior Program Associate 

Christina provides overall administrative and management support to the Passages Project, and also coordinates Passages cross-project monitoring and evaluation. Prior to joining IRH, Christina supported the humanitarian, child protection, and livelihoods teams at Save the Children. Most recently, as a Guyer Gender Research Fellow, she conducted qualitative data collection and analysis in Kenya as a follow-up to Save the Children’s livelihoods-focused YouthSave program. Christina received her BA in Anthropology and International Affairs from the George Washington University. She speaks French and Swahili.