The CAG’s Steering Committee guides the coalition’s activities and objectives.  Each member donates their time and expertise in an effort to build a safer, healthier world for adolescent girls.

Asenath Mwithigah, Co-Chair

Asenath Mwithigah joined Equality Now in December 2021. She is a passionate and dedicated Gender Specialist, with professional expertise in project management, participatory research, proposal writing, moderation, gender-impact assessment, quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, gender training and capacity building and
developing gender action plans. She has worked on issues of child protection, poverty alleviation, promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable groups in humanitarian context and SRHR. She also brings knowledge and experience in gender mainstreaming in a wide range of sectors from water and sanitation, education and governance, to agriculture & sustainable livelihoods, nutrition, land rights and business/economics. Asenath has a wealth of experience on ending harmful practices including FGM, forced and child marriage, violence against women
and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse that spans over a decade.

Prior to joining Equality Now, she was working for UNFPA Kenya Country Office as the Programme Analyst and Coordinator of UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM. She held high-level roles as the Gender and Protection Advisor for South Sudan Grassroots Empowerment Initiative (SSGEI), Gender Lead for Norwegian Church Aid assignment in South Sudan, and Technical Director for a youth-led organization in Kenya where she was instrumental in the development of the overall strategic and technical leadership of the programs in the organizations.  She is currently pursuing a PhD in Gender and Development and holds an MA in International Studies  and a BA in Communications & Sociology.

Karen Scriven, Co-Chair

Gender equality and social inclusion are important areas of Karen’s work and focus, ensuring that feminist principles of understanding and sharing power, honoring agency and the autonomy of every individual and encouraging diversity are core to any program or operational process she is engaged in. Karen has been working on adolescent girl programming, thought leadership, fundraising, organizational change processes and partnership development for the past 25+ years and am passionate about giving young women and girls the resources to lead and manage their own initiatives, tackling harmful norms that perpetuate inequality, and building the evidence around what works to build their resilience at the individual, household and community levels. She has spent 18 years with Mercy Corps over the past two decades or so and also worked with Plan International USA, Save the Children and InterAction.  Karen holds a Masters degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland College Park and a bachelor’s degree in Eastern European Politics from Wheaton College in MA.  Karen lives in Rhode Island.

Maria Antonia Deziderio, Coordinator

Maria Antonia Deziderio (she/her) is an afro latina from Salvador, Brazil. She is a rising sophomore in the Law School of University of São Paulo. She is a young leader at Women Deliver, One Young World Ambassador and really interested in researching and advocating for girls rights, including sexual and reproductive rights specially for black women and girls in Brazil and Latin America. She worked as communications intern for VidaAfrolatina, an emerging international women’s fund that mobilizes resources and connects them with Afro-descendant women-led organizations in Latin America that address sexual violence. Also, she enjoys photography, podcasts, Bahia´s local music, drawing and digital content creation.

Julianne Deitch, Evidence Lead

Julianne Deitch has over a decade of experience working in global health with international, regional,and community-based organizations. As the Senior Advisor for Adolescent Health and Protection with the Women’s Refugee Commission, Julianne’s work focuses on engaging adolescents in program design and implementation and collecting meaningful evidence to inform integrated service delivery in multiple humanitarian settings. Prior to joining WRC, Julianne worked with the RAISE Initiative at Columbia University, supporting research and programming on family planning and post-abortion care, and with the UNICEF Data and Analytics Team, where she created guidelines for MICS data analysis and reporting on adolescent health and well-being. Julianne began her career in global health with the UN Secretariat in Ethiopia and Lebanon, where she focused on supporting policy research on health and gender equality. Julianne holds a doctorate of Public Health and a master of Public Health from Columbia University, a master’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics, and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Economics from the University of California, Davis.

Sushmita Mukherjee , Networking Lead

As the Director Gender and Adolescent Girls with Project Concern International (PCI) in India, Sushmita provides technical leadership for gender integration across all projects and programs of PCI. Sushmita is also member of the senior leadership of the organization and provides strategic inputs in program quality and technical expertise in program design and implementation. Sushmita has more than 22 years of experience in the development sector working with youth and adolescents and women’s empowerment across domains of reproductive and sexual health & rights, women and girls’ leadership, economic empowerment, violence against women. Sushmita has worked in multiple countries across Asia and Africa in addition having deeply worked with marginalized population of women and girls in India. Gender equality is core principle to her work and passionately works towards a rightful and dignified living and life of women and girls.

Martha Brady, Program Lead

Advancing women’s rights and improving the health and well-being of women and girls is the thread that runs throughout Martha’ s professional life.  In a career spanning more than two decades, Martha has worked across sectors and geographies with NGOs, governments, donors, and private sector entities to develop innovative and impactful products and programs for women and adolescent girls. She has served in a variety of capacities as a strategist, innovator, technical advisor, and evaluator of women and girls’ programs and initiatives. Her technical expertise encompasses sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV prevention, self-care, health literacy, product development and introduction.  Martha began her career at the Population Council where she was Senior Associate focusing on adolescent girls’ programs, policy, and research.  She led pioneering work on girls’ sports, safe spaces and asset-building, and co-directed a global implementation science research program on adolescent girls. Martha has published and presented widely and is co-author of Investing When it Counts: Reviewing the Evidence and Charting a Course of Research and Action for Young Adolescents. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition and public health from Columbia University.

Sophie Soares, Secretary

Sophie Soares is a dedicated girls’ rights advocate who focuses, in her work, how to utilize evidence-based tools and best practices to innovate and establish girl-centered programming on the ground globally, particularly around girls’ education, health, and economic justice. She serves, among her other roles, as a Staff Associate at the Population Council where she co-leads the Council’s Adolescent Girls’ Programming Community of Practice, building the capacity of a wide portfolio of partners who are bringing thoughtful programs to scale among the hardest-to-reach populations. Her work extends to sub-Saharan and West Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. Sophie is also committed to girls’ health, literacy, and advanced education in low-income communities of New York City.

Concepcion Gaxiola, Treasurer

Concepcion is Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa’s (AGE Africa) Executive Director, where she is responsible for leading AGE Africa’s vision, mission, strategy, and fundraising efforts. Concepcion brings over twenty years of combined private and nonprofit administrative experience, both domestically and internationally. Her passion for girls’ education stems from her grandfather’s refusal to pay for her mother’s education beyond the sixth grade and her grandmother, who was orphaned and unable to attend school. Prior to joining AGE Africa, Concepcion served as Women Thrive Worldwide’s Director of Development and as Director of Organizational Advancement at United to End Genocide. In a previous life, Concepcion worked at Troxler and Associates, Inc., a private real estate finance firm in Southern California.

Emily Heimsoth, Policy Lead

Emily is the Gender Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Save the Children US, where she develops and executes advocacy strategies to advance gender equality in childhood and empower girls globally. She helps drive efforts to make U.S. Government foreign assistance more responsive and accountable to girls, and lobbies for legislation on girls’ civic and political leadership. She also project manages a multi-country advocacy initiative on investing in girls and ending child marriage, which leverages the Generation Equality process and UN forums to push for financial and policy commitments to girls. As part of this work, she coordinates the participation of adolescent girls in policy spaces so that they can speak directly to policymakers and share their perspectives. Prior to her role at Save the Children, Emily supported a network of feminist grassroots organizations in the Global South at the Women’s Learning Partnership, and completed a fellowship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with the All Women’s Action Society, a non-profit organization that does advocacy on GBV issues and provides services for survivors. Before that, Emily was a teacher in Spain and in Taiwan. She holds a master’s degree in International Affairs with concentrations in Global Gender Policy and International Security Issues from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Spanish from the University of Maryland College Park. Emily is based in Washington D.C.