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.

Chief Operating Officer (COO) & Director, Global Health Policy and Programs

Alma Golden, M.D.

Dr. Alma Golden is a pediatrician who retired in 2021 after serving as the Senate-Confirmed Presidential Appointee to lead the Bureau for Global Health in the United States Agency for International Development in Washington, DC. In that role, she oversaw the USAID Health response to the COVID pandemic, directed the Offices of Maternal and Child Health, HIV/ AIDS, as well as other critical health programs.

Previously (2002-2006) she served under President George W. Bush in Health and Human Services leading the Office of Population Affairs which included adolescent health, teen pregnancy, abstinence education, and family planning. She has been instrumental in developing evidence-based guidance and research related to adolescent health risks, parenting, and training of medical and education professionals.

Her career has included private pediatrics, indigent health services, academic medicine (University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, and Texas A&M University), healthcare administration, adolescent health, and national and international public health policy. She began her professional career as a 7th grade Life Science teacher before entering medicine and has remained active in education as well as medicine.

Executive Management Officer

Victoria Akyea, M.P.H

Victoria Akyea serves as the Executive Management Director at the Institute for Women's Health. Currently a 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.
Doctoral Research Fellow

Mallory Sparks, LCSW, MTS

Mallory Sparks serves as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Women’s Health. She is currently working as a full-time student getting her Doctorate in Psychology with a focus on Behavioral Neuroscience at California Southern University. Prior to becoming a fellow, she worked at San Antonio Behavioral Health as a psychotherapist and at Baylor Scott and White Memorial Hospital as a social worker on the Emergency Trauma Team, Inpatient Psychiatry Team, and Oncology Team. Mallory holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, a Master’s in Theological Studies, and a Master’s in Social Work, all from Baylor University. During her studies, Mallory traveled internationally to over 15 countries through various study abroad and exchange programs, and the people she met along the way continue to impact her life and work significantly. While at home, Mallory spends time with her wonderful husband, Billy, her two magnificent step-kids, Ben and Abi, and her adorable rescue puppies, Max and Simon.
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.
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.
Chief Diplomatic Officer, Foreign and Domestic Relations

Anita Mpambara Cox

Anita Mpambara Cox 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.

Senior Consultant, Global Health Education

Lori Kuykendall, M.P.H

Lori Kuykendall, M.P.H., is President of Beacon Health Education Resources. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education from Texas A&M University and a Masters of Public Health in Health Promotion from Liberty University. She started in prevention education at the Women’s Pregnancy Center in Houston, Texas in 1995. In 1998, she started a county-wide abstinence education program that was among the first to receive Title V Federal Abstinence Education funding. Later, she was the Executive Director of Lifetalk (Pregnancy) Resource Center in Frisco, Texas. She has worked with Aim for Success, now merged with Youth Equipped to Succeed, positive youth development organizations and also Medical Institute for Sexual Health.
She led community health education efforts in Romania and Guatemala.
From 2018 through 2021, Lori led the team which developed “K-12 Standards for Optimal Sexual Development” (www.newsexedstandards.org), an international resource for guiding policy and curriculum for optimal sexual health. Lori’s professional priority is to advance physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual health.
Regional Coordinator, Guatemala

Geraldine Veiman, M.D.

Dr. Geraldine Veiman is a general practice physician who has developed her professional career within the field of Bioethics, as well as in Family Educational Counseling. She was Assistant Director at Enfoque Familiar for 9 years, which is a private therapeutic-educational entity that specializes in programs focused on the value of the person and family, and a projection of a healthy life, through training, conferences, consultancies, and clinical services. She has also worked as a freelance lecturer and educator on issues of Bioethics and Affective-Sexual Education for young people, educational centers from high school to university level, adults and professionals, medical seminars and the national medical congress.
International Policy Advisor

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.
Policy Analyst

Ava Swanson

Ava Swanson is a senior at Harvard concentrating in Government with a secondary in Classics. Ava enjoys studying political philosophy and leads several Christian and conservative groups on campus. She served as president of Harvard Right to Life and the Network of Enlightened Women, and is Co-President of Harvard College Faith and Action. She is also a past board member of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. Ava interned with the DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., the State Legislative Center at National Right to Life in Alexandria, VA, and Teamworthy Ventures in Greenwich, CT.

Next Generation

The Institute for Women's Health is committed to investing in and training the next generation of public health researchers, practitioners, and policy makers who will advance health of women everywhere.

We are currently taking applications for the 2023-2024 Academic Year Internship and Fellowship programs. Find more information in "Work with Us."

Maternal and Child Health Research Fellow

Stephanie Jennings

Stephanie Jennings comes to the Institute for Women’s Health from South Carolina. She is very excited to have the opportunity to reach women all over the world. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public health through Liberty University with a focus on nutrition. She is passionate about educating people on eating the right foods and staying active to take care of their bodies and loving the amazing beings that God made women to be! Before starting this journey in public health, she spent almost 20 years as a 911 emergency services dispatcher. She has four grown children of her own and just recently got married which granted her five more children from her husband. She hopes this journey will bless communities and women all over the globe and feels so blessed to be part of helping women thrive.
Global Health Fellow

Gideon Olowoyo

Gideon Olowoyo is from Nigeria, and is a trained medical professional and public health enthusiast with experience in research and data analysis. Gideon earned his medical degree from Caucasus International University in Tbilisi, Georgia, in July 2021, and is currently pursuing his Master of Public Health degree at Liberty University, with a concentration in Global Health, expected to be completed in December 2023.
Investigative Research Intern

Sophia Downs

Sophia Downs is a rising junior at Harvard College who grew up north of Chicago. She is pursuing a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. On campus, Sophia is president of Harvard Undergraduates for Bipartisan Solutions and she also writes for The Crimson. During the summer of 2022, Sophia interned with the Innocence Project New Orleans just after returning home from an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is passionate about human dignity and is excited about the Institute for Women’s Health’s work.
Research and Development Intern

Madeline Kenney

Madeline Kenney is from Livonia, MI. She is a junior studying biology, business, and classical studies at Hope College. At Hope, Madeline is an athlete on the Cross Country and Track teams, the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the College's student newspaper, a Baker Scholar program participant, a leader of the Students Cherishing Life Club, and a Community Living Support Provider. During the summer of 2022, Madeline joined the IWH team and she is looking forward to continuing to learn from and contribute to the success of IWH.
Policy Intern

Brenna Futrell

Brenna is a senior at Liberty studying Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and a minor in government. Brenna enjoys the intersection of healthcare and public policy. She is an Eagle Scout with a strong passion for Christian faith and service. Brenna's interest in religious freedom, the strengthening of marriage and family, and global health for women makes her excited to join the Institute for Women's Health. She is passionate about the preservation of objective truth and currently serves as a Freedom Center Society Ambassador at Liberty University. This summer, she recently completed a congressional internship in Washington D.C.
Maternal and Child Health Research Fellow

Sharon Olowoyo

Sharon Olowoyo was born in the western part of Nigeria. She is passionate about health, especially maternal and child health, which has led her down the path of medicine and health care. She received my first degree in Medicine in Tbilisi, Georgia, and a Masters in Public Health at Liberty University, Lynchburg Virginia. She believes that the combination of both educational attainments would allow her to help people both from the individual and population standpoint. When I am not working or studying, she loves reading and playing video games to relax.
Global Health Fellow

Glodi Bokanya

Glodi Bokanya is a student from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has a background in biology and biomedical science and is currently finishing is second master’s degree in public health (Global Health) from Liberty University. Glodi’s work experience includes being a Graduate Student Assistant at Liberty, where he taught undergraduate classes and assisted professors with grading and tutoring public health and biomedical classes. He has also worked as an ORISE Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he independently evaluated diagnostic HIV tests and performed molecular and serologic testing. In his free time, Glodi enjoys gardening and travelling to explore the world.
Investigative Research Intern

Marcelina Halas

Marcelina Halas is a junior at Central Connecticut State University as a Political Science and French double-major. In her leadership positions as President of the Turning Point USA chapter at CCSU, as well as Vice President of the Newman Club, she made many connections with individuals in the pro-life movement such as those working with Students for Life. As a practicing Catholic, she always held pro-life views, but recently became more interested in getting involved with activism. After speaking at the Connecticut March for Life held this past March, she has become more interested in the outreach and policymaking aspect of the pro-life movement. She excited to work with the Institute for Women’s Health as a Research and Policy intern!
Investigative Research Intern

Sharen Perera

Sharen Perera is a Junior attending George Washington University for a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs, with a concentration in International Development. He also minoring in Arabic, History, and Psychology. Sharen enjoys focusing on the regions of the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa, and learning more about international affairs.
Health Policy Intern

Azul Marmolejo

Azul Marmolejo is a junior at Harvard College studying History of Science and Philosophy. On campus, she is involved in many initiatives and clubs that recognize the dignity of every human being and the importance of family as the foundation of society. She heads the Harvard Catholic Student Association and the Harvard Undergraduate Right to Life as their president and expresses her passion for bioethics, medicine, health, family, and women through publications on campus. Azul spends her free time deepening her relationships, meeting new friends, and contemplating the beauty of life.