RTI Global Gender Center Leadership
Wendee Wechsberg, PhD, is the Director of the RTI Global Gender Center and the Director of Substance Use, Gender, and Applied Research. She has been an applied community-based and gender NIH researcher since 1994, and has more than 20 years of clinical experience. She has also directed outpatient drug-free, methadone, and residential substance abuse treatment programs. Dr. Wechsberg has devoted her career to applied research, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, to develop and test the efficacy of HIV prevention interventions among different populations of substance abusers, particularly heroin and other opioid users. She has served a s principal investigator/project director on studies with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Wechsberg also serves as a consultant and advisor for various national studies and international studies. She has been conducting international research in South Africa with at-risk substance abusing women since 2001. She has published in the areas of gender and ethnicity, outreach, HIV risk, and women substance abusers. In addition to her role as research director, she also leads the RTI Global Gender Center, which brings together experts across numerous disciplines to improve knowledge, policies, and programs worldwide to reduce gender inequities and disparities
Stephanie Hawkins Anderson, PhD, is the Associate Director of the RTI Global Gender Center. She is a clinician and researcher with more than 20 years of experience working with youth who reside in resource-poor urban communities. She has extensive research experience working in the areas of girls and delinquency prevention, boys and men of color, youth violence prevention, teen dating violence prevention, youth substance abuse prevention, youth mentoring, the provision of evaluation technical assistance, and program and systems-level evaluations. Dr. Hawkins Anderson has led and worked on a number of projects for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, National Institute of Justice, National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She was the project director for the Girls Study Group project, funded by OJJDP, a project designed to advance research related to girls involvement in delinquency. She currently leads a demonstration evaluation funded by the National Institute of Justice focused on male survivors of violence. She is the author of numerous articles, chapters, and technical reports on a range of topics including gender and delinquency, youth violence prevention, intimate partner violence prevention, and youth substance abuse prevention. She has employed both quantitative and qualitative methods in her research and is a highly skilled focus group facilitator.
Venita Embry is a research public health analyst in the Courts and Corrections Research Program in RTI International’s Center for Justice, Safety and Resilience. Ms. Embry has worked on a variety of research, evaluation, and technical assistance projects related to health, health services, violence prevention, and criminal justice outcomes. Her research experiences include the areas of behavioral health services, health disparities, substance abuse, the criminal justice system, gender-based violence, and community health. Ms. Embry has strong skills in program evaluation, data management, and quantitative and qualitative research. She is a doctoral student in health behavior at the Gillings Global School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC–CH).
Felicia A. Browne is a research public health analyst in RTI’s Substance Use, Gender and Applied Research Program. Trained as a social epidemiologist, Dr. Browne has more than a decade of experience working on HIV behavioral intervention studies for key populations at risk for HIV in the United States and South Africa. She currently serves as Co-Principal Investigator of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded R01 study in health department clinics in North Carolina that is adapting and testing delivery methods of an HIV behavioral intervention for young African American women who use substances. Dr. Browne also serves as Co-Project Director of another NIDA-funded study that is adapting and testing an HIV behavioral intervention program in Cape Town, South Africa for 16- to 19-year-old female adolescents who are out of school and use substances. Her research interests include developing and evaluating multi-level HIV behavioral interventions for adolescents and young adults, particularly with the use of novel technology, and understanding and addressing socioeconomic status as it relates to HIV risk. Using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, Dr. Browne’s publications have focused on the systematic adaptation and refinement of HIV behavioral risk reduction interventions, the evaluation of HIV prevention interventions for key populations, health disparities, gender, and alcohol and other drug use.
Julia Brinton is a public health analyst in RTI International’s Violence and Victimization Research Unit within the Center for Justice, Safety, and Resilience. She has 6 years of experience in research design, literature review, grant writing, manuscript and report preparation, survey implementation, data collection, project management and project budgeting, statistical analysis, and dissemination of findings. Ms. Brinton’s research interests include intimate partner violence, sexual assault, criminal justice involvement, officer health and wellness, and work-family stress. Before joining RTI, she was involved in several private and federally funded data collection projects at Wake Forest University and NCSU.
Leslie Turner received a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University in 2017. She is a Public Health Analyst at RTI International in the Substance Use, Gender and Applied Research (SUGAR) program and provides support to various research projects. Ms. Turner currently serves as the Study Coordinator of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded R01 study in health department clinics in North Carolina that is adapting and testing innovative delivery methods of an HIV behavioral intervention for young African-American women who use substances. As Study Coordinator, Leslie is responsible for day-to-day project coordination and management.
Brittni Howard, a public health analyst in the Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluations and Interventions division of RTI International, provides research assistance to gender-based studies related to gender inequality and disparities among marginalized, underserved populations, including extremely vulnerable women and adolescents in South Africa. She also assists in coordinating RTI’s Global Gender Center. Ms. Howard has experience in conducting qualitative field work in an international setting among at-risk young women in South Africa, and in planning campus-wide events promoting gender equality, social justice, and women’s empowerment.
Bennett College Leadership
Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson is Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies and the Honors Program at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
She holds a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco; M.A. in Sociology from Atlanta University (now Clark-Atlanta University); and B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Her research and publications, conducted in Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, the Seychelles Islands and the US, center on gender, bioethics, disability, the health of women and girls, and environmental justice. In North Carolina, Dr. Johnson conducts research on both African American foodways and African Americans attitudes toward and experiences with “nature spaces” with special emphasis on Black women’s garden clubs.
Other scholarly projects include: work with Dr. Karima Jeffrey (Hampton University), on a joint collection of essays on the speculative and science fiction work of Black women and girls and with Dr. Crystal Moten (Macalester College), on compiling and editing an interactive, intersectional database on women, gender, and slavery.
Dr. Johnson chairs the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, serves on the North Carolina Historical Commission and is member of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), Scarritt Bennett Center Board of Directors (Nashville, Tennessee), and the Ms. Committee of Scholars. At present Dr. Johnson is working in partnership with NCEJN on the Humanities Action Lab’s initiative on climate change, immigration/migration and environmental justice. Dr. Johnson has most recently joined the board of directors for both NARAL Pro-Choice NC and Preservation North Carolina.
Dr. Johnson lives in Oxford NC with her family.