Council Commentary

Population Council Completes Social Behavioral Science Leadership

This month the Population Council welcomed Michelle J. Hindin as the new Program Director for the Reproductive Health, completing the leadership of the Council’s new Social and Behavioral Science division.

Hindin joins the Council from the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She had been on faculty at Johns Hopkins since 2001 teaching a range of topics, including research methods in contraception and reproductive health, international perspectives on women, gender, and health, and issues in neonatal and maternal health. During the past two and a half years from 2014-2017, she served as Lead Researcher on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in the Department of Reproductive Health at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

The newly formed Social and Behavioral Science department, being led by Ann Blanc, reflects the Council’s growing efforts to integrate research approaches across the Council’s Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Poverty, Gender and Youth programs, and increase strategic investment into research areas outlined in the Strategic Priorities Framework. These investments will further research into critical issues in education, stigma and gender inequality in HIV/AIDS, maternal health, resilience and environmental stressors.

Thoai Ngo is now program director of Poverty, Gender, and Youth and oversees the Council’s efforts to develop and test innovative solutions, and scale up successful strategies to improve the well-being of adolescents, particularly adolescent girls, accelerate positive demographic trends, and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations to adapt to environmental shocks and stressors. Ngo also directs the Population Council’s new Girl Innovation, Research and Learning (GIRL) Center, which generates and translates high-quality evidence to transform the lives of adolescent girls.

Julie Pulweritz remains the program director of HIV/AIDS, where she provides strategic guidance and technical leadership for the Council’s multi-million dollar portfolio of HIV-related research, including projects focused on key populations, gender-based violence, and evaluating innovative implementation models.

John Townsend, after his many years leading the Council’s Reproductive Health Program, is also embarking on an exciting new role as director of Country Strategy. Townsend has been with the Council since 1984 and has overseen our regional Latin America and the Caribbean portfolio as well as the Frontiers Project. In his new role, John will support country strategies to help maximize the Council’s impact and ensure research is effectively influencing national policy and programs.