Lucy Wilson

2016 Winner

Position: Technical Advisor
Organization: FHI 360

Lucy Wilson is Technical Advisor at FHI 360. She has worked at FHI 360 since 2007, focusing on managing and monitoring family planning research projects. She’s passionate about understanding the utilization and impact of research on changing policies, programs, and further research, and her current research focuses on developing new contraceptive methods. She earned her MPH degree in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007. Before going back to school, she was based in Africa for three years, where she worked on refugee resettlement.

Lucy’s tremendous leadership in the measurement of FP programs/innovations is indispensable to the field. She sets the standard for the field, and is considered the must-have expert for projects.

Tricia Petruney, Technical Advisor at FHI 360

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Monitoring and evaluation of family planning research is my core work. I am passionate about understanding the utilization and impact of research on changing policies, programs, and further research.
Right now, the research that I am focused on is developing new contraceptive methods, which is so important! Method-related reasons for non-use of family planning, such as fear of side effects and postpartum/breastfeeding, contribute to approximately 70% of unmet need. In other words, it is not just lack of access – women are choosing not to use contraception because they aren’t comfortable with or can’t use the options available to them.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

For me, family planning is a women’s rights issue. Women have the right to enjoy sex without fear. That is fear of violence, sexually transmitted infections, but most of all, fear of an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy. Women have the right to choose the timing and size of their family. Women and girls have the right to understand their bodies. And they have the right to control their bodies.

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

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets, of which only a few address sexual & reproductive health. With so many priorities, it is a challenge to keep family planning front and center. Universal access to family planning could have a huge impact. It could prevent 30% of maternal deaths and over 40% of newborn deaths. It has ripple effects across all of the SDGs. For every dollar spent on providing contraception to women who need it, there would be a benefit of $120 generated.

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

More excitement about and passion for family planning! Everyone will understand the importance of contraception. They will have positive experiences with their own contraceptive use. And they will not only be thankful for their personal experience, but they will be inspired and empowered to help others, in their own communities or the wider world, to access and use contraception in a way that is right for them.