Sarah Degnan Kambou

Sarah Degnan Kambou president International Center for Research on Women
President, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

As the President of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Dr. Sarah Degnan Kambou leads a global research institute that focuses on realizing women’s empowerment and gender equality to alleviate poverty worldwide. Her expertise centers on sexual and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, and adolescent health and livelihoods.  Sarah has served as a technical advisor to multilaterals, leading corporations and governments seeking to integrate gender into policies, programs and services that will advance the status of women and girls around the world.  She has worked for nearly 30 years in Asia, Eastern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa, including nearly 12 years at ICRW.

Sarah is a development practitioner who believes that research is, in and of itself, a parallel process of social change.  Under her leadership, ICRW has developed its presence in the Asia and East African regions and expanded its footprint around the globe.  She has strengthened ICRW’s work in traditional areas of expertise—gender based violence, child marriage and HIV—and developed emerging areas of inquiry around women and technology, property rights and gender norms in conflict and post-conflict areas.   

In December of 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Sarah to the President’s Global Development Council, where she advises him and key administration leaders on effective practices and policies for U.S. foreign assistance.  Also in 2012, President Bill Clinton tapped Sarah to serve as an Advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative.  In 2010, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Sarah to represent ICRW on the U.S. Commission to UNESCO. 

Sarah was honored in 2010 with Boston University's School of Public Health's Distinguished Alumni Award for her contributions to the field of public health, and in 2011 as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, the inaugural celebration of the world's most influential and inspiring women.  Sarah is a recipient of the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award, conferred in 2013 by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area in recognition of her commitment to improving the status of women everywhere. And in September of 2015, Sarah was appointed to the Board of Directors of Free the Slaves.

Prior to her leadership at ICRW, Sarah lived in sub-Saharan Africa for more than a decade, managing signature programs for CARE.  Through her work, she focused on addressing the social and economic vulnerability of marginalized populations, strengthening civil society in post-conflict settings, and promoting participatory development of underserved urban and rural communities.  Prior to her work in Africa, Sarah managed the Center for International Health, which she co-founded in 1987, at the Boston University School of Public Health.  Through academic studies in France and long-time residence in francophone Africa, Sarah is a proficient French speaker.

Sarah lives in Maryland with her husband, a senior economist at the World Bank.

Follow her on Twitter @SarahDKambou and connect with her on Linkedin.  


HIV and AIDS, Reproductive Health, Adolescents

Languages Spoken: 

English (native), French (fluent)


Kambou holds a doctorate in international health policy and a master’s in public health from Boston University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Connecticut.

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