Founder + Executive Director
Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning is a powerful advocate for girls and women. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Rise Up, which advances health, education, and equity globally. Since the organization’s founding in 2009, Rise Up’s global network of 500+ leaders has improved health, education, and rights for 7 million girls, youth, and women, and advocated for over 100 laws and policies impacting 115 million people. Rise Up’s work in 15 countries integrates advocacy, innovative programming, and strategic partnerships with the United Nations and the White House.
Denise teaches in the University of California San Francisco’s Masters of Global Health program, and is a Board Member of the Public Health Institute and EngenderHealth. She previously worked for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation and served as a Fulbright Scholar with the Inter-American Development Bank in Honduras. Denise’s recent awards include selection by the Gates Institute’s 120 Under Forty Global Leaders and winner of the Powerful Women of the Bay Area Award.
Denise is a renowned thought leader and speaker whose work has been featured by The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Ms. Magazine, and The Christian Science Monitor, and she is now writing a book about women’s and girls’ leadership globally. Denise has a Ph.D. 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. She has lived in Guatemala, Honduras, India, and South Africa, and speaks four languages.