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Our Mission

Driven by evidence, community needs, and voices, we shine a spotlight on complex intersectional inequalities. To support individuals, organizations, and communities in their pursuit of meaningful change, we collaborate on transformative models and actions.

Our Vision

We envision a world which values the diversity of human experience and has eliminated systemic inequalities, where the moral imperative of achieving gender equity has been fully realized and everyone fulfills their potential to shape society.

Mission, Vision & Values

Our Values

We strive to live the values we believe in:


  • being inclusive, collaborative and responsive in our approach, work, and attitudes

  • celebrating diverse lived experiences and the value they bring

As an organization and individually, we are:


  • committed to self-reflection and to learning from our opportunities, resources, and privileges

  • supportive of each other, mindful of everyone's wellbeing, and keeping a healthy work-life balance

  • passionate about investing in the next generation of development leaders, expanding their skills, and providing opportunities to put them into practice

About Us

Iris Group - a small, independent, women-owned consulting group - provides expert advice to donors and implementing partners on ways to advance gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in global development.


Co-founders Mary Kincaid and Hannah Taukobong founded the firm in 2011, following lengthy careers at a Washington, DC-based non-governmental organization, where they led efforts to integrate a GESI agenda into many of the U.S. Agency of International Development’s (USAID) flagship health projects. In launching Iris Group, they saw an opportunity to broaden their portfolio and serve a wider range of clients, free from the constraints of working within a much larger organization. They were soon joined by a number of well-respected GESI experts from around the world, who leapt at the chance to work with a small team of seasoned colleagues on some of the most cutting-edge projects in international development. Over the last decade, Iris Group has assembled a core team of diverse and extraordinarily accomplished staff, with deep knowledge of best practices in GESI-related research, policy, and program design, implementation, and evaluation.

Iris Group is known for its creative, flexible, multidisciplinary approach to tackling complex development challenges. While our sectoral expertise is deepest within the health and WASH spheres, we work across a broad range of development areas, including agriculture, infrastructure, energy, and economic growth. Our clients include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as individual development firms and other organizations. We frequently serve as a GESI subcontractor for large USAID-funded projects, where we conduct GESI analyses up front and then work closely with the prime implementing partner to ensure that issues related to equality and inclusion are addressed throughout project strategies, activities, and measurement, evaluation and learning processes.

Individually, our team members have worked around the globe and offer a wide range of language and technical skills. We have expertise in multiple forms of qualitative and quantitative analyses, as well as in program design, system dynamics, political economy analysis, and change management. Our technical backgrounds and academic credentials span public health, economics, public policy, human resource management, social work, international relations, and conflict analysis and resolution. We embody transdisciplinary, mixed-methods research and are committed to using the evidence to drive policy and programs.

Our GESI Approach

We apply a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) lens to all of our work. With this approach, we consider how power dynamics, privilege, and allocation of resources influence the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. We prioritize local, participatory methodologies and systematic inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups to not only reach sector-specific outcomes, but also address discriminatory social norms and harmful practices. 

Iris Group has spearheaded a model for intersectional GESI analysis and integration that is practical and evidence-based. Our model relies on engagement with our client’s sector experts, building upon their knowledge to jointly identify the most relevant GESI gaps and concerns within project design, implementation and evaluation. We also partner with local GESI experts to ensure that we bring fluent cultural expertise at the same time we translate international best practices to our analyses and recommendations. During the last ten years, we have used this model with clients across many sectors - WASH, Infrastructure, Health, Economic Growth, Agriculture, Food Security, Climate Change, Governance, Policy & Rights – and in broad geographic and cultural settings.


Our Team

Michal Avni

Michal Avni, MPH

Vice President

Abby Cannon.png

Abby C. Cannon

Senior Associate (Iris), Gender Advisor (BE4D)

Maneshka Eliatamby

Maneshka Eliatamby, PhD, MS

Senior Associate

Whitney Fry

Whitney Fry, DrPH, MPH

Senior Associate

Andrea Gartner.jpg

Andrea Gartner, BA

Research Assistant

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Margaret E. Greene, PhD, MA

Senior Fellow

Mary Beth Hastings

Mary Beth Hastings, MA

Director, Policy & Strategy

Jessica K. Levy

Jessica K. Levy, PhD, MPH

Senior Associate

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Ken A MorrisonMA

Senior Fellow

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Kathleen O'Reilly, PhD

Senior Fellow

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