You are here

Tonya Renee Thurman, MPH, Ph.D

Areas of Research Expertise: 
Highly vulnerable children (HVC)
Program design & evaluation methodologies
Operations research and capacity building pertaining to initiatives for HVC

Dr. Thurman has a Masters of Public Health and PhD in International Health & Development. Dr. Thurman specializes in the areas of program design, evaluation methodologies, operations research and capacity building pertaining to initiatives for highly vulnerable children. She serves as Director of the Center for Research on Highly Vulnerable Children, a multi-disciplinary initiative dedicated to compiling an evidence base for programs serving disadvantaged children. She currently resides in South Africa as Country Director for the Tulane International office while directing several major USAID-funded longitudinal evaluation studies focused on in-country programs for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Her activities in South Africa extend beyond rigorous evaluations to include participation in the development of individual case studies of OVC program models supported by PEPFAR, with 36 in press to date, along with ongoing technical assistance to community and government OVC stakeholders. Also in sub-Saharan Africa, she led the first and largest U.S. government-funded series of OVC public health evaluations in Kenya and Tanzania, and played a central role in the longitudinal evaluation of a mentoring program for youth-headed households in Rwanda. Her focus on highly vulnerable children is complemented by her prior research on AIDS-related issues, such as a sexual violence study in Lesotho, Priority Local AIDS Control Studies (PLACE) in Lesotho and Malawi, and an evaluation of a case management program for people living with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. Her experience pertaining to vulnerable children extends beyond Africa to include efforts to strengthen the design, monitoring and evaluation of programs for street children and child prostitutes within Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Closer to home, Dr. Thurman served as an evaluation specialist analyzing the impacts of a school-based psychosocial program for elementary school students affected by Hurricane Katrina. Beyond the methodological rigor of these activities, each of the projects she leads is carefully geared toward improving policy and programming for vulnerable children.