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Amanda Dennis

Amanda Dennis - 2017 Nominee
Position: Director of Research and Evaluation
Organization: The Society of Family Planning
Current Location: United States, North America
Doctorate in Public Health (DrPH) from Boston University School of Public Health
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
Masters of Bioethics (MBE)
In addition to her work evaluating the impact of family planning research grants at the Society of Family Planning, Dr. Amanda Dennis created GirlsWithNerve.com to highlight the sexual and reproductive health needs of female teens with epilepsy. – Kelly Baden, Director of State Advocacy at Center for Reproductive Rights
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I have contributed to 50 peer-reviewed publications, grey reports, and evaluations on family planning. One product that I am most proud of is www.GirlswithNerve.com. The website provides evidence-informed sexual and reproductive health information and support for female teens with epilepsy. As someone who was diagnosed with epilepsy at 11 years old, and who has conducted research about the sexual and reproductive health needs of people with epilepsy, I have both a personal and professional connection to the website. It represents an often overlooked, but important connection between research and practice. The website was created after conducting focus groups and surveys with teens with epilepsy; those same teens also contributed original content and helped further improve the website.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My work has always been driven by a strong desire to do better for women and girls. This ethic was instilled in me by my family, the friends I grew up with in Georgia, and the people I had the opportunity to serve early in my career: women and children seeking services at domestic violence shelters and women and girls seeking comprehensive family planning care in a low-resource setting in New Jersey.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

A mentor of mine once advised me that everyone can be a mentor to somebody. I have carried those words with me and used them as reminder to always support the development of others. I continue to be surprised by how far a small, supportive gesture can take an emerging leader. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to support new leaders in my role on the Advisory Board of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program at Hampshire College.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

I will use the platform to identify ways that researchers can advance family planning by working collaboratively with advocates, direct service providers, members of the media, and policymakers. The grant will be used to fund a scholarship for promising scholars from underrepresented communities to attend the North American Forum on Family Planning, a conference where advocates, clinicians, researchers and others come together to learn about and solve pressing family planning challenges.

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