Press Releases

Stephanie Psaki Appointed to Lead the Population Council’s Girl Innovation, Research, and Learning (GIRL) Center

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (September 10, 2019) – The Population Council has announced that Stephanie Psaki has become director of the Population Council’s Girl, Innovation, Research, and Learning (GIRL) Center – a collaborative global research hub dedicated to generating, synthesizing and disseminating evidence to transform the lives of the 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide.

The GIRL Center builds on decades of Population Council research and initiatives to improve the lives of adolescents. The GIRL Center generates, analyzes and disseminates evidence on what works to help girls reach their full potential as healthy, productive, empowered individuals and leaders. The GIRL Center also works to strengthen communication and coordination between researchers, program implementers and policy makers, and to connect key decision-makers with the evidence and data they need to maximize investments and accelerate progress for girls.

Dr. Psaki is a renowned researcher working at the intersections of gender, education and physical and mental health. Her research has focused on what works to improve the lives of girls and women globally, with a focus on girls’ education.

“I am thrilled that Stephanie will assume the leadership of the GIRL Center at such an important time in its growth, and as we prepare to deliver under the Center’s five-year research and advocacy agenda for girls,” said Thoai Ngo, founding director and director of the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender and Youth Program. “Stephanie has been a driving force behind the GIRL Center since its inception. I can’t think of a more capable person to create the global, cross-sectoral platform we need to foster collaboration and deliver evidence-based solutions for adolescents.”

“The world needs better evidence to improve the health, education, autonomy and economic wellbeing of girls,” said the Population Council’s Vice President of Social and Behavioral Science Research, Ann Blanc. “Too many current efforts for girls are being developed and implemented based on faulty information and assumptions. The GIRL Center is working to build a future for girls that is based more on data than good intentions, and on evidence instead of intuition.”

The GIRL Center has built an Adolescent Data Hub, the world’s first ever global open portal of research data on adolescents and young people living in low- and middle-income countries. With data from Population Council studies and other open data sets, the Adolescent Data Hub creates space for researchers to share data, work across disciplines, and collaborate to accelerate progress for girls.

Conducting original research is also central to the mission of the GIRL Center, which has examined evidence on topics such as how to prevent child marriage, promote gender equality in education and close evidence gaps in girl-centered programming. The Center has convened global experts on topics affecting girls and curated noteworthy research through the GIRL Center’s Insights Collections on topics such as HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health and rights and economic empowerment for adolescents.

The GIRL Center’s comprehensive, five-year research agenda, to be released later this year, was developed with the collaboration of innovators and experts from across sectors and explores three main issues that are critical to girls’ health and futures: education, economic empowerment and livelihoods; urbanization, migration and sexual and reproductive health; and mental health and wellbeing for adolescent girls and young women.

“It’s time to start changing the way we do things for girls,” said Dr. Psaki. “The GIRL Center is committed to asking the hard questions, promoting fresh thinking and being a positive disrupter in the field for girls. We believe that the pathway to a brighter future for girls must be paved with rigorous evidence and informed investments, and that the GIRL Center can help improve potentially millions of lives through the promotion of research and evidence-based programming for girls.”

The GIRL Center is made possible through the generosity of individuals supporting the Mark A. Walker Fellowship Program as well as funding from the MacArthur Foundation and Hewlett Foundation, Echidna Giving, and other foundations and individuals. Learn more about the GIRL Center at

About the GIRL Center

The Population Council’s Girl Innovation, Research, and Learning (GIRL) Center believes that evidence can transform the lives of girls. The Center works to produce and disseminate the high-quality evidence that helps policymakers, program implementers and donors improve girls’ lives. Guided by its Five-Year Road Map, the GIRL Center evaluates existing evidence on programs for girls; generates new research to address overlooked or under-examined issues critical to girls’ wellbeing; convenes researchers and policy-makers to focus on the most pressing questions and evidence gaps for girls; connects key decision-makers with the data to help them make the best investments for adolescents; and expands opportunities for collaboration and research transparency through our Adolescent Data Hub, Research Briefs and Insights Collections publications.

About the Population Council

The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees. Learn more at