Terry McGovern, JD

Harriet and Robert H. Heilbrunn Professor and Chair, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health
Terry McGovern currently serves as Harriet and Robert H. Heilbrunn Professor and Chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health and the Director of the Global Health Justice and Governance (GHJG) Program at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Ms. McGovern founded the HIV Law Project in 1989 where she served as its executive director until 1999. Ms. McGovern successfully litigated numerous cases against the federal, state and local governments including S.P. v. Sullivan which forced the Social Security Administration to expand HIV-related disability criteria so that women and other excluded individuals could qualify for Medicaid and social security, and T.N. v. FDA, which eliminated a 1977 FDA guideline restricting the participation of women of childbearing potential in early phases of clinical trials. As a member of the National Task Force on the Development of HIV/AIDS Drugs, she authored the 2001 federal regulation authorizing the FDA to halt any clinical trial for a life threatening disease that excludes women. From 2006 until 2012, she was Senior Program Officer in the Gender, Rights and Equality Unit of the Ford Foundation. Her research focuses on health and human rights, sexual and reproductive rights and health, gender justice, and environmental justice, with publications appearing in journals including Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, Health and Human Rights, and the Journal of Adolescent Health. Ms. McGovern recently co-edited Women and Girls Rising: Rights, Progress and Resistance: A Global Anthology. She has served on the Standing Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing and the UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health, and currently serves as a member of the UNFPA Global Advisory Council and the UNAIDS Human Rights Reference Group.

Clarisa Bencomo
Associate Director
Clarisa Bencomo is an expert on human rights, governance, and philanthropy, with an interest in how global, national, and hyper local systems and practices can be reimagined to promote greater equity. Before joining the School of Public Health in 2021 she was an advisor to GHJG and taught International Development in the University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. From 2010 through 2018 she developed and led governance programming for the Ford Foundation’s MENA Regional Office in Cairo. Her programming at Ford included support for participatory planning and budgeting to address spatial inequality; research and capacity-building to advance accountability for service provision; documentation and advocacy for policies that are inclusive of migrants and refugees; and regional learning networks and platforms around law and society, post-conflict recovery, and equitable urbanism. In addition to her work in philanthropy, she had a long career as a researcher and advocate on human rights and aid effectiveness, including more than a decade as a researcher at Human Rights Watch based in Cairo and New York. 

Malia Maier, MPH
Senior Program Officer

Malia Maier is an alum of the Mailman School of Public Health, where she earned her MPH from the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health with a certificate in Child, Youth, and Family Health. She has worked on GHJG’s six-country study assessing COVID-19’s impact on gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health services and funding, and also conducts mixed-method, community-based participatory research in school-based health centers to improve adolescent health. Her Master’s research included an evaluation of a hospital-based Kangaroo Care program in the Dominican Republic and a qualitative analysis of a novel intervention facilitating mother-child emotional connectedness and co-regulation in Stamford, Connecticut. Prior to Mailman, Malia served as an AmeriCorps member implementing child and family health programs at a community health center in East Boston. She continued her work in food access and nutrition education as Marketing Coordinator at the Boston Public Market and as a Board Member of Mass Farmers Markets. Malia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College and is a Certified Lactation Counselor.

Emily Maistrellis, MSc
Senior Program Officer

Emily Maistrellis conducts mixed-methods, policy-oriented research on barriers to and facilitators of sexual and reproductive health and rights access in marginalized communities. Emily has an interdisciplinary background in anthropology, public health, and human rights; and has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Emily has a decade of experience fostering successful partnerships with community and international NGOs, donor organizations, governments, and academic institutions in order to generate evidence and incorporate it into public health programming, advocacy, and policy decisions. Prior to joining Columbia, Emily held positions at the Harvard University FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Jhpiego. Emily earned a Master of Science from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.



Core GHJG Faculty

Neetu John, PhD, MSc, MA
Assistant Professor, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health
Neetu John specializes in Population and Reproductive Health and has worked for over a decade in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She applies an interdisciplinary lens to understand how gender and other structural inequalities impact health and development outcomes, and designs and tests programmatic and policy solutions to resolve the inequities. She has designed and implemented complex research studies such as randomized control trials and impact evaluations, nationally representative population-based surveys, and qualitative studies. Her work explores inter-linkages between issues such as women's empowerment, gender-based violence, household dynamics, care work, spousal relationship quality, child marriage, reproductive and economic empowerment in low and middle-income countries. She has worked in several countries such as Nigeria, Malawi, Morocco, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Nepal and India. She has is a recipient of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenge Award for Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development, and the World Bank and Sexual Violence Research Initiatives' Development Market Place Award for Innovations in gender-based violence Prevention, and is widely published in journals such as the International Perspective on Sexual and Reproductive health and the Feminist Economics.

Stephanie Grilo, PhD, MA
Assistant Professor, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health
Stephanie Grilo, PhD, whose pronouns are she/her/hers, is an Assistant Professor in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Grilo is a social scientist and public health researcher whose research area of interest focuses on adolescent health, globally and domestically, and emphasizes the need for taking a resiliency approach to improving health outcomes for vulnerable populations. This includes work on understanding multiracial identify formation and the influence on health outcomes, adolescent preventive services, comprehensive sexual health education and its role in preventing sexual assault, pregnancy outcomes for young women of color, as well as global research on fertility decision making in areas of high HIV prevalence. Dr. Grilo co-teaches Qualitative Methods in the Core Curriculum as well as in Population and Family Health. Dr. Grilo is also the co-founder of MOSAIC (Mentoring of Students and Igniting Community) a faculty and student mentorship community for first generation and students of color in the Department.

Goleen Samari, PhD, MPH, MA
Assistant Professor, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health
Goleen Samari is a public health demographer whose research focuses on social inequities and health. Taking a health justice approach, she examines how racism, gender inequities, and migration-based inequities and xenophobia shape population health both domestically and globally with a particular focus on communities in or from the Middle East and North Africa. She largely focuses on issues related to immigrant health, women's health, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Building on the legacy of structural racism and health scholars, she was the first to draw attention to racialization of religious minorities and Islamophobia as a public health issue. She is also one of a handful of public health researchers examining women's empowerment and reproductive health in the Middle East and North Africa. Her research remains focused on understanding and alleviating intersectional structural determinants of health. Cutting across all her research areas is an interest in the way social science constructs are measured and mixed methods that guide the research process. Her work also aims to bridge the gap between research and policy, making research accessible for wide audiences. Her research has been published in several journals including Social Science & Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, and her editorials and Op-Eds have been published in local and national newspapers. She is privileged to be recognized as a thought leader on the health effects of discrimination and to have received a few notable honors for her contributions to health equity research.


Affiliate Faculty 

Sara Casey, DrPH 
Assistant Professor, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health

Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE
Associate Professor, Pediatrics and Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Director, General Public Health Program

Chelsea Clinton, DPhil, MPH
Vice Chair, The Clinton Foundation
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management

Kelli Stidham Hall, PhD, MS
Associate Professor, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health

Student Research Assistants 

Carrie Peterson
Research Assistant 

Carrie Peterson is an MPH student at the Mailman School of Public Health in the Department of Population and Family Health where she is pursuing a certificate in Public Health Research Methods. Carrie has worked as a Research Assistant on the Title X project at GHJG since March 2021. Before Mailman, Carrie worked at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, first as an AmeriCorps member in the Bureau of Maternal, Infant, and Reproductive Health and later as a Senior Program Coordinator in the Bureau of Equitable Health Systems. 

Jessica Rosenberg
Research Assistant

Jessica Rosenberg is pursuing an MPH at the Mailman School of Public Health in the Epidemiology Department with a certificate in Applied Biostatistics and Public Health Data Science. Jessica has been a Research Assistant for the Title X project since February 2021, serves as Vice President for Womxn 4 Womxn, and is conducting data analysis from a recent contraceptive clinical trial for her practicum. Before Mailman, Jessica taught English in France, conducted fundraising research at Boston Medical Center, and worked as a Research Associate at Optum Epidemiology.