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Denise Dunning

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.

Entries by Denise Dunning

Why Are Women and Children Still Dying?

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 3:11 PM

Nigeria, one of the richest countries in Africa, also boasts one of the world's highest rates of maternal, newborn and child death. One in 13 Nigerian women dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and one in 8 Nigerian children dies before their fifth birthday.

And Nigeria is not alone. The global...

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U.N. Week -- Style Over Substance

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 1:20 PM

'Fashion week' just ended for the global development community, where thousands of international leaders convened in New York for the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA). Presidents, ministers, donors, U.N. leaders and CEOs celebrated the newest designs in global development: stylish poverty reduction plans, glamorous partnerships to end world hunger and beautiful...

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The World's Biggest Problem: Young People

(2) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 4:41 PM

The world seems to keep getting worse -- every day, the news tells us shocking stories of violence, brutality and war. And the truth is, we often blame young people for these seemingly insurmountable challenges. We blame terrorism on the unemployed young men who become radicalized extremists. We blame poverty...

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The Power of Story

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 12:13 PM

600 million girls living in poor countries around the world struggle to eat, go to school and see a doctor when they need one. Many of these girls suffer violence in their families and are married off as children to men three times their age. Although research demonstrates that girls...

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'PODER': A Story of Girls Overcoming

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 2:19 PM

Girls around the world rarely have the opportunity to tell their stories and speak their truth to a global audience. That reality is about to change with the global film premiere of 'PODER,' a compelling short documentary about girls' power to transform their own lives, families, communities and...

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The World's Greatest Return on Investment

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 11:44 AM

My mom is from Argentina, and we often spent Christmas holidays there while I was growing up. When I was 12, I was riding on a train with my parents to spend Christmas Eve with family friends living outside of Buenos Aires. The mood on the train was festive --...

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Ending Global Poverty Starts With 600 Million Adolescent Girls

(1) Comments | Posted July 15, 2013 | 1:17 PM

Globally, 600 million adolescent girls struggle with widespread poverty, limited access to education and health services, and persistent discrimination and violence. Adolescent girls are among the world's most economically vulnerable groups, significantly more so than adult women or adolescent boys.

The Adolescent Girls' Advocacy & Leadership Initiative...

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What the World Needs Now Is Girl-Centered Advocacy

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 11:39 AM

Invest in a girl and she will change her own life and her family. Invest in girl-centered advocacy and the same girl will also change her community, her country, and maybe even the world. Creating and implementing girl-friendly laws, policies, and budgets through girl-centered advocacy is our greatest hope for...

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Ending All Violence Against Girls and Women

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2013 | 11:07 AM

Last week, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) brought together thousands of leaders from around the world who are working to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. Government representatives, women's rights advocates, and NGO leaders convened in New York to explore policy and program...

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Bali Magic: The Global Youth Forum

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2012 | 1:46 PM

The taxi driver who picked me up at the airport was a young man who told me, in utmost seriousness, "Here in Bali, magic is real." Most other places don't have magic, he said, and people only believe in concrete things they can actually see. But in Bali, he told...

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