To serve adolescent girls living in West Africa, including those who have been affected by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). We aim to address the adolescent girls’ urgent needs as well as shift the underlying gender disparities and fundamental challenges they face. We focus on strengthening and building a network of organizations that support adolescent girls directly and address the structural barriers that impede them from achieving their full potential. 


We support four main activities:

  1. Developing effective communications and delivery channels that reach the poorest girls in the poorest communities in Ebola-affected area.

  2. Facilitating and enhancing cohesive partnerships among organizations that support girl-specific platforms and provide dedicated service points that are safe, highly acceptable and sought after by adolescent girls

  3. Developing non-formal life-skills and cognitive asset-building that parallel and support girls' schooling

  4. Testing and fielding of protective and productive materials that not only support both short and long-term survival physical health needs of adolescent girls, but also social and emotional well-being.

Mechanisms to support this mission include contracts, small sub-grants to community-based-on-the-ground organizations, technical support consultancies, program assessment and evaluation-related travel of directors and others and public education meetings to assess programmatic progress and results.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Did you know?

"Salone" is what Sierra Leoneans affectionately call Sierra Leone.


Chernor Bah

Population Council Liason

Chernor is an Associate at the Population Council and leads the Council’s work on post-emergency programs for adolescent girls in Sierra Leone. Before joining the Population Council, Bah was the youth engagement coordinator for A World at School, a global campaign to ensure that all children have the opportunity to thrive and learn. Bah is the youth representative on the steering committee of the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative and is chair of the initiative’s Youth Advocacy Group. In 2014, Bah received the Voices of Courage Award from the Women’s Refugee Commission for his global efforts on behalf of children and youth affected by conflict and the Population Council’s Ideas with Impact Award for his work on behalf of adolescent girls as a co-founder of the Adolescent Girls Learning Circle. Bah received his bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of Sierra Leone, and received his master’s in peace studies from the University of Notre Dame.

George Brown

Board Member

George is an international health specialist, with extensive experience in confronting the health needs of developing countries. His principal areas of expertise are in reproductive health and AIDS prevention. Dr. Brown served most recently as Director, Health Equity, the Rockefeller Foundation, which supported public-private partnerships to accelerate the development of drugs, vaccines, and microbicides for neglected diseases, including AIDS prevention. Dr. Brown received an M.D. from the University of Toronto, and a Masters degree in Public Health from Harvard University. He has worked in Haiti, Tunisia and Morocco. Dr. Brown was appointed Vice President, International Programs, at the Population Council, New York. He served for over two decades in this position, building an extensive international research, training, and technical assistance program in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. Under his leadership, new research programs were created in gender and development, AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, microbicides, and maternal mortality.

Judith Bruce


Judith is a Senior Associate and Policy Analyst with the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender, and Youth program, joined the Council in 1977. Through policy analysis, evidence-based intervention design, advocacy, and capacity building, Ms. Bruce has changed the way the world thinks about quality of care from the client’s perspective and about the power and potential of the poorest, most excluded girls. Ms. Bruce was among the first to illuminate the scope and negative impact of child marriage—including violence and discrimination. Ms. Bruce leads the Council’s efforts to develop programs that protect the health and well-being and expand the opportunities of the poorest adolescent girls in the poorest communities. Recently she served as co-chair of the UN Expert Group Meeting on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl-child. She has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1977. In 1993 she received the Association for Women in Development’s bi-annual award for outstanding contributions to the field. A graduate of Harvard University, Bruce has written and lectured extensively on population policy, the quality of reproductive health services, adolescent girls’ status in the developing world, family and partnership dynamics, and women’s access to and control of resources inside and outside the household.

Philippe Lust-Bianchi

Advisory Board Member

Philippe is a Knowledge Management Specialist in the Ending Violence against Women Section of UN Women, where he is in charg of managing the “Virtual Knowledge Centre on Violence against Women” (http://endvawnow.org) and supports the roll-out of the Flagship Programme Initiative on “Essential Services and Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls”. Before joining UN Women, Philippe worked for five years in Sierra Leone as an Adolescents and Youth Specialist for UNFPA, where he supported the Government of Sierra Leone to design and coordinate the National Strategy for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy, in collaboration with other UN Agencies and civil society. In this context, he contributed to the informal discussions that would lead to the creation of the Salone Adolescent Girls Network. He has also previously worked in Ethiopia, in the Gambia, and in Haiti where he supported the humanitarian response to the 2010 Earthquake. Philippe has a Master’s Degree in International Organizations’ Law from the University of Paris (Panthéon-Assas). 

Sarah Blake

Advisory Board Member

Sarah’s work focuses on the social and structural drivers of adolescent reproductive health in low resource contexts. She explores the interaction among global health and development discourse and practice, national policy, community social norms and processes, and programmatic interventions as they relate to adolescent girls’ education and health. Sarah has more than a decade of professional experience in international and domestic sexual and reproductive health related research, programming and advocacy. She currently supports the Population Council’s efforts to promote evidence-based, girl-centered programming in Sierra Leone, and with communities of practice working with and for girls affected by emergencies and economic inequity across various settings and helps oversee and manage grants to network partners from FoSLAGN. Sarah holds a Master of Public Health (MPH), with a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual, and Reproductive Health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health; a Master of Science (MSc) in Gender, Development, and Globalization from the London School of Economics; and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Religious Studies from Pomona College. Sarah is currently a sociology doctoral student at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ruth Merkatz

Board Member

Ruth is the Director of Clinical Development with the Reproductive Health Program at the Population Council, which she joined in 2005, and oversees the clinical work for the Council's contraceptive vaginal ring program and other contraceptive formulations in development. Dr. Merkatz also serves as associate clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Prior to joining the Council, Dr. Merkatz spent eight years at Pfizer, Inc. as Director of Women's Health and worked at the US Food and Drug Administration, where she was appointed the first Director of the Office of Women's Health. There Dr. Merkatz took the lead in changing agency policy on participation of women in clinical trials and analysis of data for gender effects, and revising contraceptive product labels to raise public awareness about transmission of STIs/HIV. Dr. Merkatz has received awards for her work in women's health awareness, mammography services, AIDS drug development and excellence in nursing. She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nursing and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She holds a BSN from Cornell University, an MSN from Case Western Reserve University, and a PhD from the Adelphi University School.

Jody Myrum


Jody is the Director NoVo Foundation's Initiative to Advance Adolescent Girls’ Rights. Before joining NoVo, Jody was the Gender-Based Violence Coordinator with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Ethiopia, where she managed IRC’s efforts to end violence against girls and women. Jody previously managed IRC’s Somali region gender-based violence program focused on ending violence against girls and women in the Somali refugee camps and established host community programming. Before joining IRC, Jody was a consultant with NoVo working on our strategy to end violence against girls and women and was a Fellow with Columbia University’s International HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Program in Kenya. There, she helped strengthen medical response to survivors of sexual violence while looking at the unique needs of children and adolescents. Jody has also worked with UNICEF’s Child Protection team to strengthen gender-based violence programming; Girls International Forum to bring girls around the world together to solve problems in their community; served in the US Peace Corps, and on a girl’s education and empowerment program where she focused on child trafficking prevention and rehabilitation, and making communities and schools safer for girls. Jody holds a B.S. from Colorado State University and a MSW from Columbia University.

Jonathan Sury

Executive Director

Jonathan is Project Director of Communications and Field Operations at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, The Earth Institute, Columbia University. He lends his expertise to a variety of disaster-related research and training-related activities at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, which includes: evaluating the unanticipated consequences of pandemic flu; healthcare worker willingness to work during a disaster; determining racially and ethnically appropriate emergency messaging; analyzing the long-term resiliency and recovery issues in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina; the measurement and mapping of social vulnerability; and the role of place and space in disaster recovery.

He is currently leading the communications and research activities on a project to enhance the resilience of child-serving agencies at the institutional level. Jonathan has a keen interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their use in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Additionally, he consults with industry, academia, and private clients on GIS & technology projects with a focus on the use of field-based mobile data collection methods. Jonathan has also been on the board of directors for the international non-profit Global MapAid since 2008, when he undertook a needs assessment trip to Nepal to determine GMA involvement in the region. Jonathan holds an Master of Public Health with a concentration in Environment and Molecular Epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and is certified in public health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners.