Susana Mendoza Birdsong, MA

Contracts and Operations Manager

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.

Laura Evaenes, BS

Finance Manager

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.

Liya Haile, MHS

Research Officer

Liya Haile manages research and programmatic activities for mobile solutions at IRH, including the Dot Efficacy Study and monitoring and evaluation of the CycleBeads app in several African countries. Prior to joining IRH, Liya‘s research interest was in reproductive biology, specifically IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies. She transitioned to focusing on social and behavioral research after teaching sexual and reproductive health education to middle school students in Baltimore. Liya holds a MHS Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Sammie Hill, BJ

Communications Officer

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 manages 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.

Lea Satta, MA

Program Associate

Lea supports the Passages Project and the Learning Collaborative to Advance Normative Change. Prior to joining IRH, she worked for the Patient Advocacy and International Services department of Georgetown University Hospital. Lea has national and global-level experience in the field of women’s rights, and interned at the McCain Institute for International Leadership where she worked on human trafficking in the United States and corresponding legislation, and later at a women’s rights association in Morocco. Lea holds an MA in Political Science from Segalen Bordeaux II University, an MA in International Relations from Jean Moulin Lyon III University, and speaks fluent French.

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).

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.

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.