Julia Kohn

2016 Winner

Position: National Director of Research
Organization: Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Julia Kohn is the National Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where she leads the organization’s health services research efforts. She is an experienced researcher and program evaluator with expertise in the areas of reproductive health and teen pregnancy, domestic and teen dating violence, and health policy. She has worked as a researcher for numerous organizations such as the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene and the Center for Court Innovation, overseeing the design and implementation of research for both private and federal grants. She holds a PhD in Public and Urban Policy from The New School and an MPA from NYU Wagner.

Dr. Kohn is an applied reproductive health researcher dedicated to strengthening clinical care and patient outcomes at Planned Parenthood. A natural leader, she mentors and inspires the next generation of family planning researchers.

Hannah Spector, Title X & Research Director at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Over the past 15 years I have designed and implemented numerous research and evaluation studies to improve access to care and measure the impact of family planning for women and teens. Today, as National Director of Research at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, I lead both clinical and health services research to improve clinical care and patient outcomes at Planned Parenthood and beyond. One of our most exciting studies underway is a study on self-administration of injectable contraception to further reduce barriers to access. I also have the privilege of supporting local Planned Parenthood health centers in their research efforts, which is why being nominated for this award by a local health center staff member is especially meaningful to me.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My mother. From a very young age, my mother taught me about the importance of access to family planning, including safe and legal abortion. She openly shared her own experiences and those of others before Roe v. Wade, and this made an indelible impression on me. I feel very fortunate to be able to work toward improving access to family planning every day.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

The U.S. is a wealthy nation, yet there are stark and growing racial and socioeconomic disparities in health care access and outcomes related to reproductive health. Improved health insurance coverage is an essential start, but the time has come for a more honest national conversation and robust efforts to address institutional racism in the health care system.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

In the next five years I hope to expand the role of Planned Parenthood in the family planning research community and conduct and disseminate high-quality, relevant research that is important to the individuals and families we serve. I would also like to finally, really learn Spanish.