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ISA Board

ISA Board group photo

(L to R): Dimitrios Siassakos, Glenn Gardener (former Board member), Natia Sharabidze, Paula Quigley, Vicki Flenady, Adrienne Gordon, Katy Gold, Susannah Leisher, Jillian Cassidy (former Board member), Margaret Murphy. 

The International Stillbirth Alliance Board currently comprises 12 members from ten countries, plus the ex officio chair. All Board members are volunteers and bring a wealth of qualifications and personal experiences.

Members of the Board are elected annually at the ISA General Assembly when there is a vacancy. We are always especially interested in parents and individuals from low- and middle-income countries to join the Board!

Susannah Hopkins Leisher

Susannah Hopkins Leisher

ISA Board Chair
Ms. Leisher spent 25 years working on global poverty alleviation in Asia, Africa and Central America. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, spent 10 years in Vietnam where she was Country Representative for Oxfam Hong Kong, and was director and then vice-president for programs of Trickle Up, an NGO focused on reduction of extreme poverty. She is an honorary research fellow at the Mater Research Institute of the University of Queensland, Australia and holds an MA in international economics and social change & development from Johns Hopkins University and an MSc in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is currently a doctoral student in epidemiology at Columbia University; her dissertation focuses on maternal stress and stillbirth. Ms Leisher is the mother of three living sons and Wilder Daniel, stillborn on July 13, 1999, with no cause found.
Prof Vicki Flenady

Prof Vicki Flenady

ISA Board Vice Chair
Professor Vicki Flenady leads the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence which aims to reduce stillbirths and improve care for families when a child is stillborn through high quality research and raising community awareness. Vicki was lead author on The Lancet’s stillbirth series in 2011 and 2016. Vicki’s research currently focused on stillbirth prevention through better understanding of causal pathways and risk factors and is currently leading a large-scale trial on a mobile phone app for women on fetal movements to reduce stillbirth rates. With a clinical background in midwifery and neonatal nursing and masters and PhD in perinatal epidemiology in stillbirth prevention, Vicki has a keen interest in addressing evidence practice gaps in maternity care. Vicki is an active member of the International Stillbirth Alliance.
Dr Paula Quigley

Dr Paula Quigley

ISA Board Secretary
Dr. Paula Quigley is a medical doctor from Ireland, with an MSc in Maternal and Child Health. She has lived and worked overseas for the past 30 years, spanning a wide range of countries in Asia and Africa. She has helped to design, implement and evaluate health programs globally, particularly focusing on women’s health and health systems strengthening. She is currently the Technical Lead for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition (RMNCAH-N) for DAI Global Health and provides technical support to a variety of DAI’s programs. Her particular focus of work is on quality of care in maternal and newborn health.
Dr. Margaret Murphy

Dr. Margaret Murphy

ISA Board Treasurer
Dr. Margaret Murphy is a Lecturer in Midwifery, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, Ireland. Her doctoral thesis explored couples’ experiences of pregnancy following stillbirth using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. She is a member of the Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Cork University Maternity Hospital and co-authored the Irish National Bereavement Education Standards (2019). She lectures in bereavement education to undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare professionals. She is a Registered Midwife and Registered General Nurse, and has extensive senior clinical experience in all aspects of Midwifery, and Neonatal Intensive Care.
Dr Katherine J. Gold

Dr Katherine J. Gold

ISA Board Ex Officio Chair
Dr. Gold is a board-certified family physician with a dual appointment at the University of Michigan in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. She has completed two fellowships in research training: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) K-12: Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health. She holds a master’s degree in social work and has completed another master’s in health and health services research. Dr. Gold has a particular interest in mental and physical health outcomes for parents after stillbirth and infant death, stillbirth prevention, bereavement training for health professionals, and perinatal mental health. She currently has an NIH K-23 grant to evaluate maternal outcomes after perinatal loss in the U.S. and also has multiple ongoing studies of adverse perinatal outcomes in Ghana, West Africa, including stillbirth prevention, maternal postpartum depression, and maternal bereavement after infant death.
Dr Sanne Gordijn

Dr Sanne Gordijn

ISA Board member
Dr. Sanne Gordijn is an obstetrician in Groningen, The Netherlands. In 2009 she finished her PhD on perinatal mortality with a focus on classification of perinatal mortality and postmortem investigations.
Dr Adrienne Gordon

Dr Adrienne Gordon

ISA Board Member
Adrienne is a Neonatal Staff Specialist in the RPA centre for newborn care and an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. She has a Masters of Public Health and a PhD on risk factors for stillbirth. She is particularly interested in perinatal topics with a public health impact that have the potential to improve pregnancy and newborn outcomes. Adrienne is Deputy Chair of the National Scientific Advisory Group of SIDSandKIDS to increase their stillbirth advocacy, a member of the IMPACT network for improving health through perinatal clinical trials, represents NSW on the National Perinatal Mortality Report project and has close links with perinatal consumer groups such as Miracle babies and the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. She is an avid supporter of evidence based policy and practice and is passionate about translating research into clinical care. Adrienne is Project Lead for the Charles Perkins Centre’s BABY1000 Cohort Study. BABY1000 will provide a major contribution to knowledge regarding early life predictors of health and disease and the interventions that will ultimately improve health for our future generations Senior Lecturer Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Neonatology Central Clinical School NHMRC Early Career Fellow Charles Perkins Centre
Prof. Francine de Montigny

Prof. Francine de Montigny

ISA Board Member
Professor Francine deMontigny leads the International Fatherhood Research Group, the Fatherhood, Family and Society research team and is Director of the Centre for Studies and Research on Family Intervention (CERIF) at Université du Québec en Outaouais (Quebec, Canada). She has a master degree in nursing sciences, a doctorate and postdoctorate diploma in psychology. She holds the Canada Research Chair on Family Psychosocial Health, and is a Senior Fellow of the Fonds Québécois de recherche en santé. Her research focuses on the continuum of services and support for parents and extended family members after an early or late bereavement loss to improve fathers and mothers’ mental health. She has authored numerous publications, national guidelines, online documentaries, books and book chapters. She has developed, offered and evaluated several training workshops to enhance care in the emergency department, or implement father inclusive practices throughout the bereavement continuum. As a facilitator of bereavement support group, and “Pregnancy after bereavement” support group, Francine is keen on developing guidelines to support the implementation of these types of services. Her actual research aims to evaluate the effects of attending bereavement groups on individual and family functioning. She is also co-authoring research examining how the work environment can develop strategies to improve recognition of perinatal bereavement.
Dr Natia Sharabidze

Dr Natia Sharabidze

ISA Board Member
Dr. Natia Sharabidze is a gynecologist and fertility specialist. She is one of the founding members of Women’s Rehabilitation Association, which works on improving the quality of reproductive healthcare for women in Georgia. Since the founding of the association in 2008, she has been organizing training sessions and conferences on prevention of stillbirths and miscarriages, as well as other important issues of reproductive health. After completing her PhD thesis on ovarian hyperthocosis and infertility, she continued researching the causes of early miscarriages in Georgia. In 2012-2014, she worked on a research “Stillbirth: reality and challenges in Georgia,” which focused on identifying main causes of stillbirth throughout the country. She is a co-author of a national guideline for post-abortion care. The main aim of Dr. Sharabidze’s practical and scientific work is to reduce the number of cases of perinatal loss in Georgia and implement a program of bereavement care.
Dr Dimitrios Siassakos

Dr Dimitrios Siassakos

ISA Board Member
Dr. Siassakos is a Reader (Associate Professor) of Obstetrics at University College London and University College Hospital and an Executive Editor for BJOG, an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology. He has a medical doctorate in obstetric team training and a postgraduate diploma in medical education with the University of Bristol, as well as a master’s in health systems management with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He holds grants for studies on bereavement care, gastric banding, teamwork, and evaluation of team training. Dr. Siassakos has developed and is now directing a national course for the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (ROBuST, or RCOG Operative Birth Simulation Training) and a regional course for the Severn Deanery (SMASH, or Saving Mothers with Advanced Simulation of High-risk situations). He is a member of two Department-of-Health Task Groups, the Executive Committee of the UK Stillbirth Clinical Study Group, and several other regional, national, and international initiatives to reduce stillbirths and improve bereavement care. He has authored several papers, invited editorials, national guidelines, and book chapters. He is a peer reviewer for Cochrane, most NIHR streams, and several journals, conferences, and publishing groups.
Claire Storey

Claire Storey

ISA Board Member
Claire Storey has spent over a decade working in maternity and newborn care as a parent advocate, commissioner and researcher. Claire has dedicated her time to highlighting the importance of the parental narrative during pregnancy and birth as well as after the death of a baby or child and to improving the quality of care on offer whilst ensuring parents themselves are adequately supported at every stage. Claire has been a co-applicant on a number of perinatal death prevention and bereavement research projects and service development initiatives. She has delivered bereavement training to healthcare professionals, run focus groups and led bereavement support and subsequent pregnancy antenatal support groups for recently bereaved parents. Claire is a board member of the International Stillbirth Alliance (ISA), co-chair of the ISA Conferences Working Group and lay board member of the Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre, at the University of Manchester in the UK. She is currently studying towards an MSc in Global Public Health at Queen Mary University in London and has recently been appointed as Senior Advisor to the WHO funded Parent Voices Initiative which seeks to raise the voice and participation of parents bereaved by stillbirth and to strengthen advocacy for stillbirth prevention and post-stillbirth bereavement support.
Prof Alfredo Vannacci

Prof Alfredo Vannacci

ISA Board Member
Alfredo Vannacci is a medical doctor specializing in medical toxicology, with a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology. He is Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Florence and his main fields of research and teaching are adverse drug reactions, pharmacovigilance and pharmacoepidemiology, with particular reference to perinatal toxicology and drug safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In 2006, after the stillbirth of his second son Lapo, Alfredo founded the first Italian charity for perinatal loss support: CiaoLapo (in Italian ‘ciao’ means both hello and goodbye) together with his wife Claudia Ravaldi, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, and current president of CiaoLapo.

Alfredo leads the Perinatal Research Laboratory (PeaRL) jointly constituted by the CiaoLapo Foundation and the Department of Neurosciences, Psychology, Drug Research and Child Health of the University of Florence. PeaRL aims to promote basic, pre-clinical, clinical, psychological and epidemiological research in the field of perinatal health. With CiaoLapo, Alfredo has been a member of the International Stillbirth Alliance since 2007; his main interests are epidemiology and prevention of stillbirth, psychological implications of perinatal loss, and promotion of appropriate bereavement care.

Prof Rakhi Dandona

Prof Rakhi Dandona

ISA Board Member
Rakhi Dandona is a public health specialist with a dual appointment at the Public Health Foundation of India, Gurugram, India, and at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, USA. She has over two decades of experience in generating evidence on disease burden and risk factor distribution at the population level through epidemiological studies and in health system studies in India. Perinatal health and injuries are her major research interests, with a focus on epidemiology and broader determinants of neonatal mortality, stillbirths, road injuries, and suicides. Mental health dimensions of perinatal mortality and suicide are a particular interest. Rakhi’s work as part of evaluations of large-scale neonatal health interventions in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh has generated robust evidence for stillbirth estimation and brought attention to the health system-related risk factors for stillbirths in India. Rakhi is Chair of the Global Burden of Disease Study India Injury Expert Group for the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative. She has published widely with over 250 peer-reviewed publications and has held several research grants including from the Wellcome Trust, UK and the National Institutes of Health, USA. Rakhi is an Associate Editor for Injury Prevention, and serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of The Lancet Psychiatry and The Lancet Public Health. She has previously served as Associate Professor at the University of Sydney School of Public Health and Head of Research at the George Institute for International Health India. She obtained her PhD from the University of Melbourne.

We create meaningful connections for our members around the world.

Global impact

We seek out partnerships on every continent to realize our mission of ending preventable deaths and ensuring respectful care

Collaboration

We work with our member organizations to connect people locally across the globe and thereby improve standards of care within their region.

Saving Lives

By unifying the work being done in research, clinical practice and communities, we are helping reduce the unacceptably high loss of lives through stillbirth.

Data Driven

We support rigorous scientific research to ensure effective action for stillbirth and newborn death prevention and bereavement support.