Judith F Helzner is a global health expert with extensive experience in sexual and reproductive health, gender equity and adolescents.



Judith F. Helzner served as Director of Population and Reproductive Health at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation from 2003-2013. Since then, as an independent consultant, she facilitated the four-donor Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health (through the NGO PATH); and has worked on the topic of adolescent girls with clients including the World Bank, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Plan International UK, and Aflatoun.  She has served as a reviewer of proposals for the MannionDaniels-managed competitions AmplifyChange and UKAid Direct, and has written proposals (e.g., for EngenderHealth). She is currently Coordinator of the Family Planning, Fertility and Urban Development Fellowship project of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP).

Ms. Helzner’s career includes roles with International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (Director of Program Coordination and Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health), the International Women’s Health Coalition, Pathfinder, and other NGOs. From 2014-2016 she was a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She has master’s degrees in demography and international relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in French from Tufts University. 

Honors: In 2015, she was honored with the Carl S. Schultz Lifetime Achievement Award.  In 2018, she was co-recipient of "Mentor of the Year" award for the Northwestern University Public Health program.



Chicago, IL, USA




Judith's LinkedIn Profile



Judith's Resume


Content Areas

Family Planning

Access to contraception is a human right, but not enough individuals and couples can fully exercise that right today. Judith has worked on quality of care, and on expanding access to family planning services to underserved populations (such as adolescents).  For example, at International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), she helped the member associations of Latin America and the Caribbean to evolve from a traditional provider-focused medical model of service delivery to approaches that prioritize the user's needs.  One product is a "manual to evaluate quality of care from a gender perspective."

Adolescent Health AND EMPOWERMENT

Judith is an expert in improving the lives of adolescent girls. For example, her World Bank and UNFPA assignments have offered the opportunity to advise governments on programs such as "safe spaces," keeping girls in secondary school, and income generating activities. She fully believes in meaningful youth engagement and practices what she preaches on that topic; for example, in 2017, as co-chair of the Adolescent Task Force of the Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA), she dedicated countless pro bono hours to ensuring that numerous young people had roles in the activities of the APHA annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.


sexual and reproductive health and rights

As the "population" field evolved from a primary focus on quantitative concerns about demographic growth to a broader approach that encompasses individuals' sexual and reproductive health and rights, Judith has made important contributions to help promote that shift. Her work with the International Women's Health Coalition helped to advance the cause of safe abortion. She guided colleagues on projects that trained providers in systematic screening for gender violence of all family planning clients in clinics in 3 Latin American countries; and helped advance the International Planned Parenthood Federation's "Charter on Sexual and Reproductive Rights" in the Western Hemisphere Region.  She describes some of this work in her article “Transforming Family Planning Services in the Latin American and Caribbean Region.


Maternal Health

Judith's work at the MacArthur Foundation included selecting and supporting grantees working on reducing preventable maternal deaths through improved training and service delivery, coordinated advocacy strategies, and increased use of critical supplies (such as misoprostol for postpartum hemorrhage and magnesium sulfate for eclampsia). 

Gender Equity

For decades - since well before her first published article on men's involvement in family planning in 1996 - Judith has been engaged in promoting gender-equitable approaches to health and development. While advancing women's well-being and rights is her first priority, she is knowledgeable about how gender-transformative programs with men and boys can assist in progress towards that goal.  She has also coauthored articles on bringing gender/feminist perspectives into two different non-governmental organizations focused on family planning.



  • Fluency in French and Spanish as well as native English - all activities can be implemented in any of the 3 languages

  • Creative thinking to solve problems and advance global health causes

  • Diplomatic technical assistance to governments & NGOs on strategy development, based on evidence & best practices

  • Effective coordination of networks and alliances

  • Thoughtful proposal review (for grant competitions)

  • Skilled proposal writing (for fundraising)

  • Sensitive meeting facilitation

  • Excellent public speaking/presentations

  • Custom-tailored writing and helpful editing for a wide range of purposes, from scholarly articles to popular dissemination efforts






World Bank








Mannion Daniels



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