Staff

Meet SWHR’s dedicated team.

Kathryn G. Schubert, MPP
SWHR President and CEO
Kathryn G. Schubert, MPP
SWHR President and CEO

Schubert previously worked for the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), where she served as the organization’s chief advocacy officer, growing SMFM’s role nationally and building its reputation in women’s health.

As a member of SMFM’s executive team, Schubert played a critical role in the development of SMFM’s budget and strategic plan. She also acted as a trusted leader and consensus builder among women’s health stakeholders, particularly in the policy arena.

Prior to SMFM, Schubert served as senior vice president at CRD Associates, where she advised clients — including nonprofit patient advocacy groups, medical professional organizations, and private companies — on government relations and public policy related to health and biomedical research issues, among others. Schubert has also spent time working in legislative roles on Capitol Hill. She received her BA from Mary Washington College and her Masters of Public Policy from George Washington University.

Shivani Chinnappan
Programs Coordinator
Shivani Chinnappan
Programs Coordinator

Chinnappan assists in the planning and execution of SWHR’s growing portfolio of scientific programs, as well as the development and implementation communications plans related to these programs.

Prior to SWHR, she worked at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as an infectious disease microbial biologist. Specifically, she worked with tuberculosis in a biosafety level 3 lab and then a COVID-19 diagnostics lab. Her professional interests span women’s mentorship, health care disparities, and underrepresented minorities in science. She has also been an active volunteer doula for three years.

Chinnappan received her bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies from Swarthmore College in 2018.

Yonas G. Fsahaye, MBA
Chief Financial Officer
Yonas G. Fsahaye, MBA
Chief Financial Officer

Fsahaye joined SWHR in 2008 and is responsible for all financial functions including accounting, audit, and human resources activities.

He offers over 18 years of experience in auditing, accounting, administration, and human resources functions.  Prior to joining SWHR, he was a Finance and Administration Director at British Council for six years, handling finances and administration responsibilities. Other previous experience includes working at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Brooks and Brooks Water Treatment Corporation, where he focused on financial reporting, budget analysis and cash flow forecasting.

Fsahaye received his B.S. in accounting from the University of Asmara and his Masters of Business Administration.

Melissa Laitner, PhD, MPH
Director of Science Policy
Melissa Laitner, PhD, MPH
Director of Science Policy

Laitner implements science programs designed to improve women’s experiences in health care and serves as the policy liaison within a targeted portfolio of women’s health and science-specific issue, including legislative and regulatory activity related to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Prior to joining SWHR, Laitner worked as a health policy fellow in the office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), where she covered a wide-ranging portfolio, with an emphasis on matters related to FDA, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, prescription drugs, mental health, and topics relevant to health care transparency, costs, and coverage.  Her fellowship year was supported by the American Psychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Before her fellowship, Laitner worked for six years at an academic medical center while obtaining her doctorate in clinical health psychology and a master’s degree in public health. Her research focused on behavioral management of chronic health diseases in rural populations. Clinically, her work targeted low-income and indigent populations facing acute and chronic medical conditions, including chronic pain, cancer, and organ/stem cell transplant.

She remains a licensed clinical psychologist in the District of Columbia and recently spent eight months as a volunteer domestic violence liaison with the District’s Metropolitan Police Department. She is an active member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Behavioral Medicine.

Laitner received her PhD in 2017 and her MPH in 2016 from the University of Florida, where she also completed her clinical internship and a clinical postdoctoral fellowship. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina.

Emily Ortman
Director of Communications
Emily Ortman
Director of Communications

Ortman leads development of SWHR’s strategic communications efforts to maximize the reach and impact of its scientific programs and policy activities. She also oversees implementation of media relations, social media, and website content.

Before joining SWHR, Ortman managed media relations and communications at the Society for Neuroscience. She coordinated press activities for hundreds of reporters at the SfN’s annual meeting, oversaw production of the Society’s member communications, and crafted compelling advocacy communications on biomedical research funding, animals in research, and more.

Prior to entering the nonprofit sector, Ortman worked in journalism as an editor and web producer at a daily newspaper in Indiana and at Roll Call, a respected political newspaper covering Capitol Hill and the White House.

Sarah Wells Kocsis, MBA
Vice President of Public Policy
Sarah Wells Kocsis, MBA
Vice President of Public Policy

Wells Kocsis leads policy development, government relations, and stakeholder engagement activities on behalf of SWHR.

She brings more than 20 years of expertise in driving public policy solutions aimed at improving patient access to care. Wells Kocsis has held diverse public policy and government affairs leadership roles at Hologic, Amgen, and Boston Scientific.

She received a bachelor of science in Biology from Tulane University and earned an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Joy S. Braun, MA, MPA
Vice President of Development
Joy S. Braun, MA, MPA
Vice President of Development

Braun leads SWHR’s strategic partnerships, external relationships, and philanthropic initiatives to secure transformational philanthropy and opportunities, and develops new and diverse revenue streams to support the organization’s mission and goals. She develops and implements creative strategies to support science, policy, communications, and education initiatives; advances Policy Advisory Council membership; and leads the annual awards dinner.

Before joining SWHR in 2017, Braun led development initiatives at the Association of Academic Health Centers. She has over 20 years of experience leading development and partnership initiatives, as a consultant and in leadership positions for a wide-range of New York, Washington, DC, and international nonprofit organizations. She has MPA, and a BA and MA in political science.