The Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) Board of Directors convened in their first quarter meeting of 2019. They voted unanimously to receive Dr. Karen McDonnell as a member of the Board of Directors. McDonnell is no stranger to the organization, as she and the Milken Institute School of public Health have worked closely with GWPF during the last two years with their Practicum program. In 2018, she addressed GWPF’s Support Group Workshop for survivors of FGM, the only support group of the kind in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The organization is delighted to welcome Dr. McDonnell to their board room. “Karen is most definitely a great asset to our organization,” Vice President Amie Jallah told Global Woman Newsletter.
McDonnell said this when asked why she was interested in joining the Board. “I have had the pleasure of working with the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation for the past 2 years. The work the foundation does to support women and communities is admirable and one I am honored to be associated with.” And when she was asked how she felt GWPF would benefit from her presence on the Board, she responded, “I bring a skill set that would create opportunities for the GWPF to grow and further the attainment of the mission and goals of the foundation. As a professor in an academic institution I have successfully applied for and been awarded a number of grants and contracts. I also have demonstrated that GWPF would benefit through our public health graduate student pipeline of interns that are eager to work with GWPF.”
Dr. Karen A. McDonnell is an Associate Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Dr. McDonnell has also been a public health program evaluation and implementation specialist for over 15 years, with experience working with community groups, public health agencies, and health care systems both locally and globally. Her expertise lies in using mixed methods to look at complex public health issues and programs. Dr. McDonnell’s most recent work is leading a team to evaluate gender based violence in immigrant communities, development and testing of a community-centered FGM prevention project, evaluating the National Domestic Violence Hotline/love is respect Helpline, taking a public health approach to gender based violence and HIV, and evaluating multi-systems changes in the Clinical Translational Science Institute with Children’s National and GWU. She has conducted trainings in public health policy, gender equity, and women’s leadership and teaches coursework in Program Evaluation, Maternal and Child Health, and works with undergraduate and graduate students, medical residents, and community groups to further the exploration of methods to meet our current complex public health challenges. Dr. McDonnell is the recipient of the 2009 ASPH Early Career in Public Health Teaching Award, ASPH Academy of Distinguished Teachers, and the 2011 Milken Institute SPH Excellence in Teaching Award, and the 2018 Global Woman Award in Education/Training. Karen has been vigilant in her work against FGM, including teaching, training and facilitating workshops.
Dr. McDonnell holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology/Biology from Hamilton College. She obtained her Doctor of Philosophy from the School of Hygiene and Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. McDonnell was named to the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Perinatal, Infant and Interconceptional Health. She has worked with several not-for-profit agencies and community health clinics that focus on the health and well-being of women, children and families in the metropolitan Washington, DC area and in Baltimore. When speaking of Gender Based Violence (GBV), Karen said, “I have contributed to a better understanding of gender-based violence in immigrant communities, evaluating the National Domestic Violence Hotline/loveisrespect helpline, and taking a public health approach to gender based violence and HIV. These projects have led to greater understandings of gender-based violence and how to address this pressing, preventable public health problem.”
McDonnell currently conducts action-based research on issues related to community health, health behavior and Maternal and Child Health locally, nationally, and globally. One of such research projects includes: Development and Testing of a Community Centered FGM Prevention Project. The objectives of this project are to use a 36-month community collaborative approach to the systematic and efficient evaluation of the multimethod approach towards the secondary and primary prevention of FGM. They have used a systematic investigative approach to develop and evaluate a special ‘toolkit’ for health and service providers to effectively communicate with women who have experienced FGM and/or the at-risk young girls.
Dr. McDonnell is wasting no time in getting involved with GWPF’s tasks. She has offered to Chair the Nomination & Awards Task Group, and she expects to become closely involved with the Event Planning & Program Development Task Group as well. As a 2018 recipient of a Global Woman Award, it is no doubt that Karen has selected to Chair the appropriate Task Group. In the last two years, she has been a full participant of planning both the Walk To End FGM and the Global Woman Awards evening. Her passion for working toward the prevention of FGM, and the rehabilitation of the survivors clearly states that she truly cares about the work in which GWPF engages.
Welcome to GWPF, Karen! Everyone looks forward to working with you.
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