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. Currently, Heidi is the Director of Gender Based Violence at HIAS.
Before joining HIAS, Heidi was the Director of the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC’s) Women’s Protection and Empowerment Technical Unit where she led IRC’s work on policy, programming and advocacy issues related to violence against women and girls. In this role, she supervised a team of 20 practitioners. One initiative Heidi led was focused on increasing access to services for refugee survivors of violence who have resettled in the United States. Heidi worked with IRC programs in 22 US cities piloting training for staff working with women and girls from more than 15 countries and building bridges with service providers in the movement. She spent 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.
Heidi has her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in maternal and child health care from the University of South Florida. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana for three years. After returning from Ghana, Heidi worked at one of the largest domestic violence shelters in Florida, then continued her work at the Children’s Justice Center in Tampa where she worked with child and adult survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. She also facilitated batterers’ intervention groups and started one to the first batterer intervention groups for the LGBTI community in Southern Florida.
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.
HIAS is the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. HIAS stands for a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom.