Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning is a passionate advocate for women and girls. She is the founder and Executive Director of Let Girls Lead, Champions For Change, and the Youth Champions Initiative, based at the Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA.



Let Girls Lead has contributed to improved health, education, livelihoods and rights of more than 3 million girls by investing in girls and their allies through advocacy, education, economic empowerment and storytelling. Champions For Change saves the lives of mothers, children and newborns in Nigeria by building a movement of Champions advocating for improved reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. The Youth Champions Initiative advances quality and innovation in the sexual and reproductive health and rights field by investing in youth champions who will lead this movement for the next generation.



Dr. Dunning teaches courses on Women’s Health & Empowerment for the University of California San Francisco and is also the executive producer of PODER, a short film highlighting the power of investing in girls. Dr. Dunning previously worked for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Population Council. She also served as a Fulbright Scholar in Honduras, working with the United Nations Development Program on hurricane relief.



Dr. Dunning has a PhD in Sociology from the University of California Berkeley, a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Duke University. Dr. Dunning is a native Spanish speaker, avid scuba diver, and mother of two young daughters.