Our Team

Group photo 

Mary Ellsberg, PhD

Mary Ellsberg


Executive Director
(202) 994-7177

Dr. Mary Ellsberg is the Executive Director and Founding Director of the Global Women's Institute at the George Washington University.  Dr. Ellsberg has more than 30 years of experience in international research and programs on gender and development. Before joining the university in August 2012, Dr. Ellsberg served as Vice President for Research and Programs at the International Center for Research on Women. Dr. Ellsberg’s deep connection to global gender issues stems not only from her academic work, but also from living in Nicaragua for nearly 20 years, leading public health and women’s rights advocacy. She was a member of the core research team of the World Health Organization’s Multi-Country Study on Domestic Violence and Women’s Heath, and she has authored more than 40 books and articles on violence against women and girls. Dr. Ellsberg earned a doctorate in epidemiology and public health from Umea University in Sweden and a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from Yale University.

Manuel Contreras-Urbina, PhD

Manuel Contreras-Urbina


Director of Research
(202) 994-9394

Manuel Contreras-Urbina is the Director of Research of the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University. He has 18 years of experience in gender and women’s rights research and programs. Before joining the university in February 2014, he served as National Program Officer at UN Women in Mexico, where he was responsible for the planning, management and implementation of UN Women programs in Mexico and Central America. 

Dr. Contreras-Urbina worked as the coordinator of the Gender, Violence and Rights portfolio at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and as a research associate at the UNFPA Country Support Team for Latin America and the Caribbean. He has also worked as a consultant for several high-level institutions in Mexico and elsewhere including El Colegio de México and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative. He has published widely in the areas of violence against women and sexual and reproductive health.

Dr. Contreras-Urbina earned a Doctorate of Population and Gender Studies from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a Master's of Demography from El Colegio de México and a Bachelor’s of Mathematics and Actuarial Science from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). 


Marianne Makar

Marianne Makar


Operations Manager
(202) 994-3025

Marianne Makar is the Operations Manager of the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University.  She brings to GWI extensive grants, finance and project management experience from more than ten years at The Brookings Institution.

She has an educational background in political science and peace studies, including a master’s degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Bradford.

Janine Moussa, JD

Janine Moussa


Director of Policy and Outreach
(202) 994-3547

Janine Moussa is the Director of Policy and Outreach of the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University. Ms. Moussa is a human rights lawyer with over 15 years’ experience in women’s human rights.

Prior to taking up her position with GWI, Janine co-founded and co-directed the Due Diligence Project on State obligation to end violence against women. Previous work experiences include serving as Senior Program Specialist, violence against women with the Division for the Advancement of Women (now UN Women); Senior Program Officer, international advocacy, with IWRAW Asia Pacific, a Malaysian based CSO working towards the implementation of the CEDAW Convention in the region and globally; and as legal consultant for the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States.

Ms. Moussa has spent several years living and working abroad namely in South East Asia and the Middle East, where she worked on micro-enterprise and vocational training programs with women refugees.

Alexandra Blackwell

Alexandra Blackwell


Research Associate
(202) 994-9212

​​​​​​Alexandra Blackwell is a Research Associate at the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University. She is completing her Master's of Public Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health where she is studying Global Health Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation. Her master's thesis is a systematic review examining the current refugee and migrant crisis in the context of U.S. and European refugee policy and international humanitarian obligations. Alexandra works primarily on projects concerning violence against women and gender issues in complex emergencies and displaced populations. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at GWU where she was a fellow in the Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars program.

Maureen Murphy, MPH

Maureen Murphy


Research Scientist
(202) 994-9161

Maureen Murphy is a Research Scientist with the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University. Previously, she has worked with numerous international non-governmental organizations, including in South Sudan with the American Refugee Committee and in Sierra Leone with GOAL Ireland. Prior to this, she worked with the Child Protection in Crisis Network based at Columbia University to coordinate locally driven child protection and gender based violence research projects in Africa and Asia. 

Maureen holds a Master’s of Public Health from Columbia University and has a professional interest in improving monitoring and evaluation in complex emergencies, particularly in the realm of gender-based violence and reproductive health programming. She is a published author on a variety of gender based violence and reproductive health topics.

Junior Ovince

Junior Ovince


Senior Research Associate
(202) 994-0047

Junior Ovince is a Senior Research Associate with the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University and has over seven years’ experience in program evaluation, knowledge management and learning, and mixed research methods. Prior to joining GWI, he worked at the International Initiative for Impact evaluation in Washington, DC as a research intern and played an important role in managing the intimate partner violence scoping project which consisted of developing a portfolio review and creating an evidence gap map. Additionally, he worked at CARE, Haiti as the Knowledge Management and Learning Advisor for the country office. He was the key technical person for monitoring, evaluation and accountability and developed a range of theories of change, process evaluations and quasi-experimental evaluations for four main sectors: women’s empowerment and economic development, education, food security and neighborhood improvement. Furthermore, he served as the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for a youth empowerment project implemented by a national NGO and funded by FOMIN/IADB and MasterCard Foundation. Junior worked as a consultant for different evaluations and research projects focusing on gender and economic development, education and multilateral cooperation.   

Junior holds a Master's of Social Business from the University of Lumière Lyon II, France. He has a Bachelor's of Applied Economics from the Centre de Techniques de Planification et d’Economie Appliquée (CTPEA), Haiti. 


Chelsea Ullman

Chelsea Ullman


Policy Associate
(202) 994-3510

Chelsea Ullman is a Policy Associate at the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University. She is a double alumna of the George Washington University. As an undergraduate, Chelsea was selected for a Presidential Administrative Fellowship, which offers high-achieving seniors the opportunity for professional development and a master’s degree at the George Washington University. Through this fellowship, Chelsea worked with the Global Women’s Institute, and graduated with her Master’s of Public Policy with a focus in social policy. Chelsea spent her summer during her master's studying International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford with a focus in gender and sexuality issues in the law.

Skylar Wynn

Skylar Wynn


Executive Support Assistant
(202) 994-7177

Skylar Wynn is the Executive Support Assistant at the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University. She received her bachelor’s degree with honors in Women's Studies from Old Dominion University in May 2015. As an undergraduate, Skylar interned with the Old Dominion University Women’s Center on campus focusing on empowerment, activism and creating a sexual assault free environment. She is passionate about exploring the politics of identity within girlhood in order to provide a counter-cultural experience for girls that promotes empowerment, inclusivity and global consciousness. 

During this time, she was the recipient of multiple honors such as the Anita Clair Fellman Service-Learning Scholarship, the Carolyn Rhodes Undergraduate Scholarship, Women's Studies Student of the Year Award and an International Research Award. After studying abroad in South Africa, Skylar created Project Annette to offer assistance to a secondary school she had spent time at while focusing on education and gender equality. In partnership with Education without Borders, they were able to fund two programs promoting early childhood literacy. Both programs have been proposed to continue in 2016. As Skylar completed her senior year at Old Dominion University, she was selected to be featured on the ODU main website as a commencement success story.  

Jennifer Zelaya, MPH, MSW

Jennifer Zelaya


Research Associate
(202) 994-9205

Jennifer Zelaya is a Research Associate at the Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University. Jennifer received a dual master's degree in Public Health and Social Welfare with concentrations in Community Health Sciences and Mental Health from UCLA's schools of Public Health and Public Affairs respectively. In 2014, Jennifer was a Graduate Summer Scholar at the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America. She lead the design, implementation and evaluation of a qualitative study examining intimate-partner violence throughout Leon, Nicaragua.

During the summer of 2015, she was a Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence Intern at the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). In this role, she provided technical feedback related to protection mainstreaming of proposals submitted by non-governmental agencies and UN Partners. In addition, Jennifer supported a Violence in the Home initiative that OFDA is developing.

She has previously managed community-based and clinical research studies related to trauma and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. She also has extensive experience providing therapy to adults and children who experience a wide-range of psychosocial stressors.