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Listen to the podcast on Inkandescent Radio Help Janine N’jie David transform research into action

In today's episode, you'll learn about the international research institute studies issues like gender-based violence and sexual health, then translates and amplifies findings to improve programs, inform policy, and shift the public conversation.


End intimate partner violence with Janine N’jie David, MPP, Deputy Director, Global Lab for Research in Action at UCLA

A Note from Tracy Schott, founder, Voices4Change: Check out today’s interview on Voices4Change, where we go global in our effort to put an end to intimate partner violence.

Today’s guest: Janine N’jie David, Deputy Director of the Global Lab for Research in Action at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Our topic: The Global Lab — what it is, what it does, how everyone can be part of the change.

About Janine: With more than a decade of experience as a nonprofit leader, Janine specializes in cross-sector partnerships with a special interest in creating equality for women and girls globally.

As the head of the Global Lab, which transforms research into action, the international research institute studies issues like gender-based violence and sexual health, then translates and amplifies findings to improve programs, inform policy, and shift the public conversation. Their data leads the way to bold new solutions: Decriminalize sex work. Engage boys alongside girls to advance gender justice. Reframe stories about women’s work and worth. In her role, Janine spends her days strategizing, partnering, expanding their community, amplifying their work, and working with their talented team of student interns.

Janine has held senior leadership positions at Spark, a national youth mentoring organization, and Plan UK, a global children’s rights organization. Her work took her to Zambia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and India. Janine holds a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She is a member of their MPP Alumni Council and a Luskin Alumni Career Leader, which helps current students prepare for the job market. Janine is also a member of the Los Angeles Women’s Collective, a political action committee that empowers women in Los Angeles to influence political and legislative progress. Janine lives in the Santa Ynez Valley, California, with her husband, energetic toddler girl, and two intensely loving cats!

Filmmaker Tracy Schott, founder, Voices4Change

About Tracy Schott’s Voices4Change Show: With the goal of ending intimate partner violence, Tracy’s documentary “Finding Jenn’s Voice” brought to light the horrifying fact that one of the leading causes of death during pregnancy is homicide. Determined to stop the international devastation, the Pennsylvania-based entrepreneur has launched a weekly podcast/video series to shine a light on the survivors and experts worldwide working toward the same goal.

Learn how you can get involved:

Click here to watch all episodes of Tracy’s show on

Scroll down for an interview with Janine for Your What’s Next Journal — by Tracy’s Inkandescent Radio and TV producer, Hope Katz Gibbs and Cynthia and Cynthia de Lorenzi, founder of Success in the City. 

What’s Next: 4 Questions for Janine N’jie David, MPP, Deputy Director, Global Lab for Research in Action

Spotlight on: What’s Next in Entrepreneurship

An interview with Hope Katz Gibbs & Cynthia de Lorenzi, authors, Your What’s Next Journal: / 

Hope & Cynthia: Tell us about your business/industry and where it was before the pandemic hit in March 2020. 

Janine N’jie David, MPP, Deputy Director, Global Lab for Research in Action

Janine: Right before the pandemic, the organization I run – the Global Lab for Research in Action – was about to officially launch. We had been incubating for a year or so and, as the newest research center at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, we had ambitious plans.

We were founded as an interdisciplinary hub to transform research into action. Through a gender lens, we research hard-to-reach populations on understudied, critical issues like intimate partner violence and sexual health. We then translate and amplify findings to inform policy, improve programs across the global South and North, and shift the public conversation. Our rigorous research leads the way to bold new solutions like decriminalizing sex work, engaging boys alongside girls to advance gender justice, and reframing stories about women’s work and worth.

In spring 2020, we were about to present findings from our study in Tanzania to the World Bank, speak at an event at the request of the First Lady of Los Angeles in recognition of Women’s History Month, and had an exciting launch event planned – with venue and speakers secured, and even valet booked! All these events were postponed, then later canceled. We had no idea that our lives and work were about to be turned upside down as they did.

I remember the conversation I had with my co-founder at the Global Lab, Dr. Manisha Shah, where we seriously talked about whether we should take a pause, ride out the pandemic, and make plans for a post-pandemic launch. We wondered whether everyone would be – understandably – focused on the pandemic, that attracting the attention of a new audience amidst all the worry and panic would be too tough. Launching a start-up is hard enough, let alone during a pandemic. We agreed to sleep and think about it. But what happened next surprised us – and fueled us.

Before we could come to a decision, one was made for us – by talented students approaching us to serve as interns; by a growing list of requests to present our research findings virtually; and by organizations and governments seeking input on their programs and policies. All this interest in our work told us that now was not the right time to take a pause, and while it would be a challenging environment in which to launch, now was exactly the right time. So, we rolled up our sleeves and I set up the corner office I’d always dreamed of – the corner of my bedroom that is! – and we got to work.

Cynthia de Lorenzi, founder, Success in the City

Hope & Cynthia: Where were you personally in your life when COVID-19 arrived in the US? What were your short and long-term goals at that time? 

Janine: I really appreciate this question because this past year+ has taught me so much about how to embrace the merging of my personal and professional identities. I have always wrestled with this in the past, feeling that industry norms set the standard that the personal should be kept separate – even though for me this felt so unnatural as my work has always been a vocation. So, I’ll answer this question simply as where I was in my life.

Before COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. I was feeling excited and hopeful: about heading to D.C. to support Manisha as she presented our research to the World Bank; visiting family over the summer in the UK; expanding our family of three to hopefully a family of four; and launching and growing the Global Lab – and I like to dream big so that meant securing an endowment, hiring a rockstar team, and securing a spot on Oprah to help amplify our research on sex markets in support of the decriminalization of sex work.

The past year threw unexpected curve balls for us all — and for me, that curveball was a resurgence of the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder I have managed since I was a child. It meant making big decisions about my health and life. We paused on expanding our family and we relocated to the Santa Ynez Valley a couple of hours from Los Angeles to find more green space for our toddler, but also to help give me space to manage my mental health.

What we hadn’t expected was that the relocation would give us a taste of a new way of life and work we would never have considered before – so much so that we decided to stay, work remotely, and give life in the countryside a go.

This year I began to open up more in my professional space about my own journey with mental health and found opportunities to support others by giving them space to discuss their experiences. This time has given us insight into our professional colleagues’ personal lives in a way that’s never been possible before and, for me, it’s not only be liberating, but I think it’s really strengthened those relationships.

Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Inkandescent Women magazine

Hope & Cynthia: What are your thoughts now about your industry, your business, your personal life, your heart?

Janine: When I reflect on this past year, while plans did not come to fruition in the way or at the speed I had intended, I am delighted by what has been achieved, not to mention, full of gratitude for all the individuals who have contributed to those achievements.

If there’s one word that defines the past year at the Global Lab, it’s growth. Our research cohort is thriving with partners and projects on multiple continents. We’ve been scaling strategies to improve adolescent health; informing the movement to decriminalize sex work; uncovering the “shadow pandemic” of intimate partner violence, all while expanding our network in the U.S. and abroad through virtual salons. We’re building an incredible board, have stretched our seed funding, and — while not an endowment — secured generous inaugural gifts, and even got the opportunity to present to the World Bank virtually. I did get the opportunity to “hire” that rockstar team of student interns and a phenomenal part-time contractor.

And none of this growth would have been possible without those passionate and committed – not to mention incredibly resilient and talented – students who first approached us and made us stop in our tracks when considering whether to pause our launch.

And on a personal level? This summer I was able to visit the UK where I was reunited with family after nearly two years.

As for my heart? It is feeling hopeful once again, as it was pre-pandemic, full of gratitude, while also apprehensive about the developments we are seeing with the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

Hope & Cynthia: Now the big question — What do you see coming next? 


  • For your industry:
    • As a global development research institute, I see a couple of shifts coming. First, over the past year, I think people learned more about the importance of data and the huge value research plays in our day-to-day lives, even when making personal decisions. I hope we will see evidence being used more and more to help the public navigate their own lives in this new world we find ourselves in. And I hope that policymakers will recognize the critical role they have in designing evidence-backed policy.
    • Second, while we were distanced physically this past year, in many ways I think we’ve come to appreciate how interconnected we are as one world, as well as the invaluable benefits of sharing successful practices across countries. With the enhanced ability to operate virtually and remotely, I see even more global cross-sector collaboration to combat global challenges together.
  • For your company: More growth! Having navigated a difficult launch year, we feel more ready than ever to expand our research portfolio alongside new partners and affiliate researchers and raise funds to build our team so we can continue translating and amplifying our research. A new student cohort has recently joined us and they are certainly keeping me on my toes. I’ve been inspired by how younger generations have shown resilience and adapted during this time. This too gives me hope since they will be the leaders of tomorrow.
  • For yourself: I’m hoping my family will grow too! It is also taking longer than I’d hoped, but that is an interview for another time. (As well as being a mental health advocate, I’m passionate about reproductive rights, health, and justice. I have a lot to say about the lack of data-informed information and education in the reproductive health space, although there are some great researchers and companies leading the way.)
  • For the country: I recently became an American citizen and so this question feels rather poignant for me as I’ve waited a long time to be able to vote in the country I live in. My desperate hope is that there will be healing in this country following nearly two years where we’ve experienced more anger, frustration, grief, and sickness than I ever could have imagined. I have a deep concern too at the assault on human rights as I watch in horror as the Supreme Court is asked to overturn a ~50-year precedent protecting abortion rights.
  • For the world: I’m worried that as developed countries recover from Covid-19, that the impact of the coronavirus will have a long-term devastating impact on lower-income countries, and individuals and communities who have historically been underserved. We have already witnessed this, and I think there needs to be much investment in global development to ensure that no country gets left behind during the recovery and an intentional allocation of resources to the individuals who need them the most.
  • For women: I’m really concerned about the global impact of the pandemic on women and what this means for gender equality around the world. I’ll give just two examples:
    • Women’s jobs were not only disproportionately affected by the pandemic, but women are also leaving the workforce at terrifying rates, exhausted and burnt out by the demands of housework, childcare, and let’s not forget the care of aging or sick family members.
    • Following the shelter-in-place orders at the onset of the pandemic, reports of domestic violence surged. What’s even more terrifying is that our research in India found that increases in domestic violence complaints continue to persist one year later.
    • So what do I see coming next? We need bold new solutions to the challenges we are facing, and when it comes to gender equality, I think it requires reimagining gender equality. I believe we need to engage boys and men in ways we have not even imagined yet. We also need to look to successful pilots that we can replicate and scale, like our study in Tanzania that found engaging boys in a soccer-based health intervention reduced reports of female intimate partner violence. We need to create a new culture of masculinity and fatherhood, and there are great organizations like A Call To Men and Fathering Together paving the way. We also need policy change to help sustain a new culture, especially when it comes to parental care.

Hope & Cynthia: One more question — now tell us the one question we didn’t ask you — and give us your response.

Janine: What does success look like? It is a question I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently. But for me, I think success is lasting, systemic change, whether through policy or culture. I’m excited to have a “home” at the Global Lab where I can contribute towards that. It is why I lie awake at night thinking about how we can translate and transform our research to reach the broadest of audiences as well as the policymakers who can enact change that leads to improving lives with bold new solutions.