Heidi Lehmann has over fifteen years experience in Africa, Asia, and the United Sates; and is an internationally recognized expert on violence against women and girls in war zones. Her work as a public health professional has taken her to some of the worst conflict zones and natural disasters in recent history including Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone and Haiti. Most recently, Heidi was the Director of the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC’s) Women’s Protection and Empowerment Technical Unit where she leads IRC’s work on policy, programming and advocacy issues related to violence against women and girls.
Ms. Lehmann has her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in maternal and child health care from the University of South Florida. Before working for IRC, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana for three years. This was followed by work at one of the largest domestic violence shelters in Florida. She followed this with work at the Children’s Justice Center in Tampa where she worked with child and adult survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. She has facilitated batterers’ intervention groups and started one to the first batterer intervention groups for the LGBTI community in Southern Florida.
In her current role, she supervises a team of 20 practitioners. Her most recent initiative is focused on increasing access to services for refugee survivors of violence who have resettled in the United States. Working with IRC programs in 22 US cities she is piloting training for staff working with women and girls from more than 15 countries and building bridges with service providers in the movement. She spends over 50% of her time traveling to work with staff and partners and learning from the women and girls she has the privilege to stand beside.
For balance, Heidi stands on one foot with her arms spread wide. Sometimes she may need to lean against a wall. Spending time with her nieces and nephew always brings a smile, and she truly believes that laughter is a wonderful thing.