Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning is the founder and Executive Director of Rise Up, which activates women and girls to transform their lives, families, and communities through investment in local solutions, strengthening leadership, and building movements. Since 2009, Rise Up’s powerful network of over 500 leaders has directly benefited 7 million girls, youth, and women, advocating for over 100 laws and policies impacting 115 million people in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and the US. Rise Up achieves large-scale change by advancing health, education, and equity for girls, youth, and women everywhere. Through a range of innovative programs, we invest in emerging leaders and local solutions, and partner with global and in-country organizations to leverage collective resources for expanded and sustainable impact. Rise Up unifies the power of Let Girls Lead, Youth Champions Initiative, and Champions for Change to benefit 115 million girls, youth, and women globally.
Denise has recently taught courses at UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University. She has previously worked for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and served as a Fulbright Scholar in Honduras. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of California Berkeley, a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Duke University. Denise is a renowned global speaker whose work has been featured in the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post, and she is now writing a book about girls’ empowerment globally.