Our Advisory Council

Sign and student

Advisory Council members are faculty at George Washington University in positions of leadership who each facilitate collaboration between his or her department and GWI. Building strong inter-disciplinary partnerships ensures that women's issues are a priority across the university under the guidance of the Advisory Council.

Nemata Blyden

Nemata Blyden


Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, Interim Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences


Phone: 202-994-3318

Email: nemata@gwu.edu

Nemata Blyden has a Bachelor's degree in History and International Relations from Mount Holyoke College, and an master's degree and doctorate from Yale University (1998). She specializes in African/African Diaspora history, and has researched women's issues in nineteenth century Liberia. Her publications include: "The Search for Anna Erskine: African American Women in Nineteenth Century Liberia" in Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas (Ohio University Press, 2002). Dr. Blyden teaches a course on Women in African History, and is a member of Sisters of Sierra Leone, a women's group in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Blyden remains engaged with women's issues in Sierra Leone. Her current research is on African immigrants in the U.S.

Mary Buckley

Mary Buckley


Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance and Director of the EJS Women’s Leadership Program, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences


Phone: 202-242-6698

Email: buckley@gwu.edu

Mary Buckley is Associate Professor of Dance and Director of the EJS Women’s Leadership Program at George Washington University. As the faculty coordinator of the International Arts and Culture cohort she teaches an Interdisciplinary Arts Seminar and a weekly symposium focused on women’s leadership. Mary also teaches Dance History and directs a study abroad seminar course in Paris each June. Mary is a member of the GW Academy of Distinguished Teachers. She also serves as an affiliated faculty member for the Global Women’s Institute and she is a Fellow in GW's Cross Disciplinary Initiative. Mary has performed as a modern dance artist in the US and Europe working with choreographers Liz Lerman, Joseph Mills, Lionel Popkin, Meriam Rosen, and Deborah Riley. She was also a member of Kickstart, a British based dance company directed by Virginia Taylor.


James E. Foster

James Foster


Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Elliot School of International Affairs


Phone: 202-994-8195

Email: fosterje@gwu.edu

James E. Foster is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the George Washington University. He received his Doctorate of Economics from Cornell University and holds a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (Mexico). Dr. Foster's research focuses on welfare economics — using economic tools to evaluate and enhance the wellbeing of people. His joint 1984 Econometrica paper (with Joel Greer and Erik Thorbecke) is one of the most cited papers on poverty. It introduced the FGT Index, which has been used in thousands of studies and was employed in targeting the Progresa CCT program in México. Professor Foster is also Research Fellow at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Department of International Development, Oxford University, and a member of the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity (HCEO) Working Group, Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, University of Chicago. This year he is serving on the World Bank’s Commission on Global Poverty.

Sumera Haque

Sumera Haque


Director, Clinical Operations, GW Medical Faculty Associates

Due to her personal and professional experience and success, Sumera Haque is eager to empower other women to succeed in their pursuits. Dr. Haque personally understands the challenges faced by women in developing countries and was fortunate enough to receive support and guidance here in the US. To pay this forward, she has dedicated herself to work with immigrant women who have had similmilar experiences to promote career development. Dr. Haque is able to provide language assistance, cultural competency, and employment referrals. In 2007, she was honored with the Shero Award from Senator Barbara Mikulski for her community service efforts relating to the advancement of immigrant women in the U.S.

Rachelle Heller

Dr. Heller


Associate Provost for the Mount Vernon Campus, Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Director of the Elizabeth Somers Center, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


Phone: 202-242-6698

Email: sheller@gwu.edu

As Associate Provost for Academic Affairs of the Mount Vernon Campus, Dr Heller leads the year-long academic/residential program for incoming freshmen women (for more information, click here). Her research and grant work are directed toward recruiting and retaining women and under-represented minorities in the STEM fields. She began with work called “Bringing Young Minority Women to the Threshold of Science’ targeting junior and senior high school students, moved to undergraduates to encourage them toward graduate school and how focused the last 10 years on FORWARD to Professorship, targeting pre-tenured women and under-represented minorities.

Leslie Jacobson

Leslie Jacobson


Professor of Theatre, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Phone: 202-994-7072

Email: lesliej@gwu.edu

Leslie Jacobson is the Founding Artistic Director of Horizons Theatre, established in 1977, and the “longest running” women’s theatre still producing in the U.S. Under her leadership, Horizons has introduced Washington audiences to over 60 new plays and playwrights through fully-staged productions, and another 50 through public staged readings over the years. The Women’s Committee of the Dramatists Guild gave Horizons a special award for its outstanding work in producing plays by women playwrights. Jacobson has written and produced over a dozen of her own scripts at Horizons and around the country over the years. She graduated cum laude with a degree in Theatre, from Northwestern University; and with a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Boston University’s School for the Arts. Jacobson served as Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at The George Washington University for 13 years, from 1995 to 2008. As Chair, she inaugurated a Women’s Leadership Program in Women and International Culture, located on the Mount Vernon Campus of GWU, for Freshmen interested in discovering the ways that women create art differently from men.

Toni Marsh

Toni Marsh


Associate Professor, Founding Director, Parallel Studies Program, College of Professional Studies

Phone: 202-994-2844

Email: marsht01@gwu.edu

Toni Marsh is the founding director of the George Washington University paralegal studies program, the Associate Dean for New Initiatives, and an Associate Professor of Paralegal Studies; she is also the founding director of the paralegal studies program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Together with the Legal and Human Rights Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Professor Marsh designed the international rule of law paralegal clinic in Tanzania in which George Washington master’s candidates work alongside Tanzanian paralegals to provide paralegal services to rural villagers. In partnership with the University of Bagamoyo, Professor Marsh has just designed and launched the first-ever formal paralegal education program in the United Republic of Tanzania. She is the author of Juvenile Law (Delmar 2006) and several articles, a frequent presenter at national legal conferences, and the creator of Corporate PEP, a paralegal education program for corporate paralegals that runs annually in Washington, DC.

Joan Meier

Joan Meier


Professor of Clinical Law, Director of Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project, GW Law School



Email: jmeier@law.gwu.edu

Over the past 23 years, Joan Meier has taught three different domestic violence clinics at the law school, involving direct representation of survivors in civil court, emergency responses in the medical setting, and student fieldwork in a wide range of community domestic violence organizations. Ten years ago, Joan launched the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), which specializes in appellate advocacy on behalf of adult and child victims of abuse. DV LEAP spearheads domestic violence advocacy in the Supreme Court, as well as advocating for victims in state courts of appeal. They also train judges, lawyers, mental health professionals and others on best practices in domestic violence and child abuse cases. Joan Meier's scholarship has ranged from articles on domestic violence and welfare reform and constitutional criminal procedure, to custody and abuse and the many forms of quasi-scientific denial of abuse in the justice system, and the mis-use of labels and categories in responding to domestic violence.

Amita Vyas

Amita Vyas


Associate Professor and Director of the Maternal and Child Health Program, Milken Institute School of Public Health


Phone: 202-994-3695

Email: avyas@gwu.edu

Amita N. Vyas is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Maternal and Child Health Program in the Department of Prevention and Community Health, at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. At the age of 20, Professor Vyas journeyed to Calcutta to work alongside Mother Teresa in the Missionaries of Charity. In one eye-opening summer, she saw what the social determinants of health and well-being really mean to vulnerable populations, and from that extraordinary experience decided to pursue a career in public health. Today, her work focuses on reproductive health care, adolescent health, and the health and development of immigrant children and adolescents. She is also an expert in multi-level research methods and evaluation. Dr. Vyas continues to hold an adjunct position in the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Susan F. Wood

Susan Wood


Associate Professor of Health Policy and of Environmental and Occupational Health, and Executive Director, The Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health


Phone: 202-994-4171

Email: sfwood@gwu.edu

Susan Wood is an Associate Professor of Health Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and Director of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health Services where her work and public advocacy focuses on the use of scientific knowledge in public policy. She previously was Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health at the FDA, and directed the FDA Office of Women’s Health from 2000-2005 when she resigned on principle over continued delay of approval of emergency contraception over-the-counter. Prior to her time at FDA, Dr. Wood was Director of Policy and Program Development at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. Previously, Dr. Wood was a research scientist at John Hopkins University School of Medicine; she received her Doctorate of Biology from Boston University. She has published a number of research articles in scientific journals, as well as articles on health policy.