Denise Raquel Dunning, PhD, MPA, MA
Founder and Executive Director

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
-- Nelson Mandela

Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning is a powerful advocate for girls and women. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Rise Up, which advances health, education, and equity globally. Since the organization’s founding in 2009, Rise Up’s global network of 500+ leaders has improved health, education, and rights for 7 million girls, youth, and women, and advocated for over 100 laws and policies impacting 115 million people. Rise Up’s work in 15 countries integrates advocacy, innovative programming, and strategic partnerships with the United Nations and the White House.
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Emily Teitsworth, MA
Managing Director

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
--Lilla Watson

Emily holds a Master’s in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, and graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan University with a degree in Philosophy and Psychology. Since 2009, Emily has helped  [Read more…]

Josie Ramos, MA
Senior Manager of Programs

"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”
--Maya Angelou

Born and brought up in Pasadena, California, Josie was educated at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. She holds Bachelor’s in English and Spanish with honors, and a Master’s in Literature. Josie began her career in public health as a volunteer [Read more…]

Lorena Gomez-Barris
Senior Manager of Operations

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
--Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist”

Lorena holds a degree in Business Administration and Environmental Studies from Sacramento State University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Nonprofit Management at the University of San Francisco. She manages operations for Rise Up with her head and her heart, [Read more…]

Nancy Deyo, MA
Senior Advisor of External Affairs

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
--Albert Pike

Nancy is responsible for development and communications at Rise Up. Since 1999 she has served women and girls through human rights, humanitarian relief, international development and advocacy work. Nancy has built awareness, reputation and garnered funds for [Read more…]

Nicole Lordi
Program Administrator

“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don't believe is right.”
--Jane Goodall

A graduate of Rutgers University, Nicole holds a Bachelor’s in History and Art History. A strong believer in experiential learning, Nicole joined the Public Health Institute over 20 years ago and has worked in a variety of roles, including program operations, financial [Read more…]

Rufaro Kangai
Champions for Change Program Manager

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
--Barack Obama

Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, and brought up in Zimbabwe, India and Austria, Rufaro Kangai serves as Program Manager for Rise Up. Rufaro is a recognized leader in public health advocacy and communications with over ten years’ experience developing, [Read more…]

​Claudia Romeu, MPH
Program Coordinator

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
--Mary Oliver

Claudia holds Bachelor’s in Social Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master’s in Public Health in maternal and child health from the University of California at Berkeley. Before starting her graduate studies, the native Puerto Rican spent [Read more…]

Sarah C
Executive Coordinator

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”
--Eleanor Roosevelt

As Executive Coordinator for Rise Up, Sarah is responsible for organizational logistics while assisting Denise Dunning, Rise Up’s Executive Director. Sarah has an extensive background in arts and administration, and joined the team in June 2015 to further Rise Up’s efforts [Read more…]

Juana Salazar
Program Assistant

“Be Brave. Take Risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”
--Paulo Coelho

As the Program Assistant, Juana is responsible for Rise Up’s administrative functions. She has over 10 years of organizational and community outreach experience, including work as a bilingual counselor in public health, specifically serving parents whose babies were [Read more…]

Chantal Hildebrand, MPH, MPC
Program Coordinator

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
--Audre Lorde

Chantal holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Vassar College and Master’s degrees in Public Health and City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Passionate about gender equity, public health and advocacy, Chantal served as a Peace Corps volunteer [Read more…]

Grace Kaimila-Kanjo
Africa Regional Senior Advisor

"Far and away, the best prize that life offers is to work hard at work worth doing.”
--Eleanor Roosevelt

Grace has over 25 years of technical work experience in international development program management, covering a wide range of fields, from education to media and public relations to gender, youth, and HIV/AIDS. She has worked with Rise Up’s programs [Read more…]

Mr. Albert Obbuyi
Kenya Country Coordinator - Champions for Change

Mr. Albert Obbuyi is the Kenya Country Coordinator for Champions for Change. He is a health and development expert with more than 20 years of experience at the national and international levels designing and implementing health and development programmes, with a focus [Read more…]

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar Turicios, MA
Honduras Country Representative - Let Girls Lead

Vanessa joined Let Girls Lead as the Honduras Country Representative in 2009. In her role, Vanessa serves as the focal point for the 19 LGL Fellows in Honduras and provides technical assistance to LGL’s grantee organizations in the country. [Read more…]

Emerita Valdez
Honduras Country Coordinator - Let Girls Lead

“May you live your life as if the maxim of your actions were to become universal law.”
--Immanuel Kant

Emérita Valdez has a degree in Management and Social Development, with a postgraduate degree in “Prevention of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking” from the Institute of Judicial Studies of Nicaragua and the Supreme Court of Honduras. [Read more…]

Maria Veronica Buch Siquinajay
Guatemala Country Representative - Let Girls Lead

Veronica joined Let Girls Lead in 2009 in the first cohort of Fellows from Guatemala. She became the Country Representative for Guatemala in 2013. As the LGL Country Coordinator, Veronica maintains the LGL network in Guatemala with the 39 Fellows [Read more…]

Juany Garcia
Guatemala Country Coordinator - Let Girls Lead

"I am interested in the future because it is the place where I will spend the rest of my life."
--Woody Allen

Juany is a Psychologist with a degree from Rafael Landivar University in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. She spent her childhood in a village in western Guatemala with her parents and three sisters, in a very patriarchal and macho culture, hence her interest [Read more…]

Theresa Kaka Effa
Nigeria Country Representative - Champions for Change

Theresa Kaka Effa is the Nigeria Country Representative for Champions for Change, based in Abuja. An RMNCH advocacy expert, Effa has led the formation and strengthening of several national and state level civil society networks. She has also participated in successful RMNCH policy [Read more…]

Joyce Chikakuda Mkandawire
Malawi Country Coordinator - Let Girls Lead

Joyce is a leading national advocate for girls’ rights. A co-founder of Girls Empowerment Network (GENET), Joyce pioneered innovative community-based advocacy with village chiefs to end child marriage. She has a strong passion for marginalized adolescent girls and young [Read more…]

Aisha Wreh-yonnoh Cooper Bruce
Liberia Country Representative - Let Girls Lead

Aisha became a Let Girls Lead Fellow in 2010 and has been the Country Representative for Liberia since 2011. As the Country Coordinator, Aisha serves as the LGL focal point for the 24 Fellows and the grantee organizations in Liberia. Aisha is also the Director of Social [Read more…]