Our Story


Our Story

The Institute for Women's Health was founded to advocate for the optimal health and thriving of women throughout every phase of life. We saw how the health of women is caught in divisive policy debates during foreign policy negotiations. We heard the stories of how certain nations often apply pressure to other countries, using a form of diplomatic blackmail that threatens real health gains for women around the world. We knew this was wrong. We had to act. And thus the Institute for Women's Health was born, the only organization of its kind. Because women deserve better. We will settle for nothing less.

Our Leadership

What We Believe

Healthy women are the foundation for healthy families, and healthy families are essential to the health of our communities and societies. Together, we can ensure a lasting and positive global health legacy for women, our children, our families, and our nations.



We believe that women deserve equal access to quality healthcare and information that can empower them to protect their own health and the wellbeing of their children and families


We believe supporting women’s health research can conquer areas of need.


We believe that strategies to expand women’s health and thriving should always respect the inherent dignity and worth of women, their children, their families, and their communities.


We believe that we must do all we can to protect the life of every person – particularly the most vulnerable.


We believe collective, targeted partnerships and action will drive genuine health gains for women of all ages.


We believe that adequately addressing women’s health needs requires working alongside governments to find solutions that respect their cultural and religious traditions.


We believe working together with motivated leaders, policymakers, businesses, organizations, healthcare professionals, faith-based groups, and governments will accelerate this progress.


We believe that divisive issues never should derail a single-minded focus on advancing health for women around the world.


Healthy women are the foundation for healthy families, and healthy families are essential to the health of our communities and societies. Together, we can ensure a lasting and positive global health legacy for women, our children, our families, and our nations.



and Guiding Principles

What Drives Our Work

The Institute for Women's Health exists to promote the highest attainable health and wellbeing for women throughout every stage of their lives, and works to tackle the most pressing women's health issues through honest discourse, targeted action, and empowered alliances.

Real progress is accomplished when we:

Affirm the unique design and dignity of every woman.

Every woman and girl is unique, with inherent dignity and value at every stage of her life. Nothing can add or subtract from her significance.


Make women’s health the center of the conversation.

The dignity of every woman and girl demands a concerted effort to move the women’s health discussion toward neutral ground and away from controversial issues that can prevent real progress. It’s wrong to use women and their health to promote other agendas that don’t result in tangible health advances.


Clear the path.

This means identifying opportunities, challenges, and health solutions for more women in every corner of the world, and removing any obstacles standing in the way.


Stand stronger together.

We will work with any nation and any organization that wants to improve the health and quality of life for women. We strive to understand the most pressing needs for women in every location. We believe solutions can be crafted to accelerate improved outcomes for women while being sensitive to the cultural underpinnings of the country.


Our Leadership

The Institute for Women's Health has exceptional policy knowledge, international government experience, and a passionate desire for a united effort in expanding the health of women in every corner of the globe.


Valerie Huber, M.Ed

Valerie Huber, M.Ed., is the Founder and President of The Institute for Women’s Health. She previously served as the Special Representative for Global Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Global Affairs. In this role, Huber promoted women’s global health priorities by empowering women to thrive and achieve optimal health outcomes from their first 1000 days and continuing through every stage of their lives.

Huber has also been involved in domestic women’s and adolescent health issues at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, Senior Policy Advisor, and Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Health. Huber cares deeply about women's optimal health and thriving and advocating for every life.

Director of International Programs

Anita Mpambara Cox

Anita is Director of International Programs. Prior to working for IWH, she worked for the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and for the EU. As an international affairs professional with an economics background, she has represented the US in different capacities working at our embassies in over eight countries for more than two decades. Her career has included diplomacy across different portfolios, cultures and situations in several countries including Argentina, Sierra Leone, Egypt, The Bahamas, and India. Mpambara Cox also worked for the EU as a media analyst for a commissioner and TV analyst on panels addressing African political and economic matters.

Her interests include US domestic matters exercised through her extensive civic duties in her community as a commissioner of her county’s Charter Review Commission and chair of the city’s Multicultural Affairs Committee. The recipient of multiple US State Department awards, she holds a BSc (Econ) from the UK and an MBA in addition to professional training at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center.

Domestic Policy Advisor

Esther Spear

Esther Spear is a Domestic Policy Advisor at the Institute for Women’s Health. Prior to joining IWH, she worked in policy for over four years for the senior senator from her home state of Oklahoma. While working on Capitol Hill, she primarily focused on domestic issues, including healthcare, women’s issues and appropriations. Esther holds a B.A. in International Business from John Brown University and currently resides in Northern Virginia with her husband.
International Policy Advisor & Director of Development

Michelle Kelley

Michelle recently joined the Institute of Women’s Health as an international Policy Advisor and the Director of Development. Prior to joining IWH, Michelle worked in the Executive Branch of the Office of Management and Budget and at the Veteran’s Health Administration. She also was the Director of Religious Education, for the Archdiocese of Washington and served as a Salesian Lay Missionary in Okinawa, Bolivia. Michelle completed her BA in Art History for the University of Dallas and her Masters in Theology, Biotechnology and Ethics at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. The California native now calls Arlington, Virginia home with her husband.
International Policy Fellow

Joy Ruiz

Joy Ruiz is an MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Candidate at Georgetown University with an interest in pediatrics and women's health nursing. Prior to pursuing her MSN at Georgetown, she worked in the White House Medical Unit and in the White House Office of Public Liaison where she learned she had a passion for both government and nursing. Joy is originally from Bolivia and grew up in Northern Virginia. Currently she resides in Washington, D.C.
Development & Policy Fellow

Leanne Jarvis

Leanne is a Domestic Policy and Development Fellow at IWH. She has worked as the Director of Development at a pregnancy center and previously served as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

Leanne holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Social Media & Speech Writing Intern

Brinley Koenig

Brinley Koenig is a junior at Brigham Young University studying Political Science with an emphasis in Political Strategy and a minor in Business. She has participated in the Heritage Foundation's Young Leaders internship program in D.C. and has served as a public policy intern for the Sutherland Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. During this time, she became passionate about using her strengths in writing, design, and communication to help further the conservative movement. She is particularly interested in women's health and religious freedom issues and is very excited to work with the Institute for Women's Health this year. Outside of work and school, she enjoys listening to podcasts, playing board games with her family, and running.
Executive Assistant & Development

Danielle McInturff

Danielle serves as the Executive Assistant and Development for the Institute of Women's Health. Before working at IWH, Danielle worked in accounting, marketing, fundraising, and communications. Danielle graduated with a degree in Marketing B.B.A but began her career while she was still in college. In 2020, she joined a women's health research team to find out how to best serve women's needs in the United States. This sparked an interest that led her to work in women's health for the next two years. During that time, Danielle worked with Students for Life, Right to Life, and other pro-family organizations. When not researching or reading, Danielle finds time to travel, learn Chinese, and spend time with her family. She also has a passion for history, theology, and music.
Director of Operations

Gloria Kim Wertjes, M.A.R.

Gloria is the Director of Operations at the Institute for Women’s Health. Prior to joining IWH, she served as a research assistant to the VP of the Religious Freedom Institute. She is a fellow at the John Jay Institute and a George Washington Statesmanship fellow at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Gloria holds a B.A. in Economics and Arabic from Swarthmore College, and an M.A. in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary. Gloria is a student of languages and has lived and worked in South Korea, Jordan, Thailand, and Myanmar.
Senior Policy Advisor

Katelyn Walls Shelton, M.A.R.

Katelyn Walls Shelton is Senior Policy Advisor at the Institute for Women’s Health. Prior to joining IWH, she served as Special Assistant for Global Women’s Health and Global Health Officer at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its Office of Global Affairs. She also served on staff in the U.S. House of Representatives for her home state of Tennessee. Shelton earned a dual bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Christian Thought and Tradition at Union University, and her master’s degree in religion and ethics from Yale Divinity School. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, John, and twin toddlers.
Medical Fellow

Chioma Amadi

My name is Chioma Amadi, and I am from Nigeria, West Africa. I am a second-year graduate student at Liberty University, majoring in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health. I have always been passionate about preserving human lives and alleviating suffering, and that was what defined my career path in Medicine and then Public Health. With women and children as vulnerable groups in Nigeria, I came face to face with a high incidence of child and maternal morbidity and mortality and increasing health disparities in these groups stemming from an array of socio-economic, cultural, political, health, and behavioral factors. For this reason, I have taken a particular interest in children’s and women’s health to promote their health and wellbeing and advocate for social justice and policies that protect these groups, as I believe everyone should be given an equal chance to live.
Protego Coordinator & Applied Learning Director

Victoria Akyea

Victoria Akyea serves as the Protego Coordinator and Applied Learning Director at the Institute for Women's Health. Currently working as a full-time student in Liberty University's Ph.D. in Health Sciences (General) program, she also works as a full-time artist, and often volunteers through various commissioned projects in her community. Prior to becoming a fellow, she served as an intern in IWH's Internship Program. Victoria holds a bachelor's degree in Biology, with an independent minor in Linguistics (concentrated in Hellenistic Greek) from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. While at Geneva, she also served in various academic support capacities, including student support and tutoring, assisting in on-campus event planning and programs for both the Biology and Visual Communications departments, and served as an assistant to Geneva College's Pre-Medical Committee. Victoria received her Master's in Public Health, with a concentration in Global Health from Liberty University in May 2022, and currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Research & Development Intern

Madeline Kenney

Madeline Kenney is from Livonia, MI. She is a sophomore student hoping to blend studies in biology, business, and economics at Hope College located in Holland, MI. At Hope, Madeline is an athlete on the Cross Country, Basketball, and Track teams, the web manager of the college's student newspaper, the Business Club lead, a member of the Students Cherishing Life Club, and a Community Service Learning Provider. This past summer, she enjoyed learning from and contributing to the success of the Institute for Women's Health as a Policy Intern. She is looking forward to continuing her work with IWH as a Research and Development intern!
Policy Intern

Ava Swanson

Ava Swanson is a junior at Harvard concentrating in Government. Ava enjoys studying political philosophy and helps lead Christian and conservative groups on campus. She is Co-President of Harvard Right to Life, Vice President of the Network of Enlightened Women, and Co-Vice President of Harvard College Faith and Action. Ava interned with the DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., as well as in the State Legislative Center at National Right to Life in Alexandria, Virginia. Ava is currently serving as a board member for Massachusetts Citizens for Life.
Communications Intern

Jinsil Yearm

Jinsil Yearm is a freshman at George Washington University studying International Affairs with an interest in International Law & Organization and International Economics. At GW, she is part of the GW Women in Business, GW Women’s Pre-Law Student Association, and serves as part of the Advisory Council in the Elliott School’s Leadership, Ethics, and Practice Initiative. She is interested in foreign policy and US economic relations with foreign nations. She is excited to work with the Institute for Women’s Health this year!