WomenNC Young Scholar Mentor-Mentee Partnership

February 15, 2019

The RTI Global Gender Center (GGC) recently partnered with WomenNC to match 5 young scholars with 5 RTI GGC affiliate mentors for the Juanita M. Bryant Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Local-to-Global Leadership Training program. The 9-month program provides NC university and college students with an opportunity to complete an original research project, receive training related to the research process (as well as on topics such as public speaking and advocacy), and present their findings to local and global communities. At the end of the program, scholars complete a capstone research project focused on gender-related issues facing women and girls in North Carolina communities (with an emphasis on communities in Durham).

For their research project, scholars select a topic and produce a research report that includes findings and policy recommendations. The use of this research is to bring public awareness to the local NC community.

Scholars present their findings at the Local-to-Global annual forum in NC and to share their work in New York at the United Nations CSW session in March of 2019. Results of student research policy projects form a foundation for gender analysis component of Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) initiative in North Carolina cities and counties. In collaboration with the Durham County Women’s Commission, Durham Mayor’s Council for Women, and the Wake County Commission for Women, scholar research reports will be used to educate local government and advocate for policy change and budget allocation.

This cohort is researching the intersectionality of the wage gap in Durham, equitable teaching communities in STEM education, affordable housing, menstrual equity in public institutions, women’s immigration rights; and perinatal healthcare for incarcerated pregnant women in Guilford County.

Under the direction of Dr. Wendee Wechsberg, RTI GGC Director, mentors  assist scholars throughout the research process, including developing clear research questions, strategies on how to approach their research questions, adhering to program timelines, communicating with students as needed; providing feedback and guidance for research projects, and reviewing papers and presentations prepared by mentees.


Meet the Mentees and Mentors

Mentee Amy Jiang is a junior at Duke University, studying public policy. She is interested in using an interdisciplinary approach toward addressing the lack of women, especially women of color, in STEM jobs. In her free time, she goes on runs around her university and mentors middle school students.

RTI Global Gender Center Mentor 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 six 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 North Carolina State University.


Mentee Amelia Steinbach is a sophomore at Duke University from Durham, NC. She is studying Political Science and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. She hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in the political realm, advocating for the rights of historically disadvantaged and marginalized groups.

RTI Global Gender Center Mentor Dr. 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.


Mentee Sara Darwish is junior at North Carolina State University, majoring in social work and Arabic. Having grown up in Cairo, Egypt, she has a strong interest in researching accessibility to feminine hygiene products in educational settings in the global realm.

RTI Global Gender Center Mentor Brittni Howard is a public health analyst in the Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluations and Interventions division of RTI International. SHeprovides 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.


Mentee Jada Hester is a Park Scholarship recipient and University Honors student at North Carolina State University. She is a junior,  double majoring in Business Administration and International Studies (with concentrations in Marketing and Global Relations, respectively). When she is not conducting research, she enjoys giving tours as a University Ambassador, traveling abroad, reading and spending time with her friends and family.

RTI Global Gender Center Mentor Leslie Turner is a public health analyst in the Substance Abuse, Gender and Applies Research Program.  She 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.


Mentee Kaitlin Galindo a junior, majoring in Public Policy and Political Science  at UNC-Chapel Hill. She enjoys knitting, playing rugby, and deconstructing structural inequality. Kaitlin is studying the status of immigrant women in the Triangle.

RTI Global Gender Center Mentor Venita Embry is a research public health analyst in the Applied Justice Research Division. 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).