Jessi Hanson-DeFusco

Jessi Hanson-DeFusco

Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy
Coordinator for Peace Corps Prep Certificate
Sectretary of Harvard Alumni for Education

Dr. DeFusco's research focuses on global health policy and programming targeting vulnerable populations, particularly in West Africa and Latin America. Her work includes equitable health policies, governance, nonprofit, education for all, child protection, and gender rights.

+1 (972) 883-4969
GR 3.526
Academic Website
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Not currently accepting undergraduate students

Tags: Public Policy Political Economy International Development Education Gender Equity Global Health

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Public Policy & International Development
University of Pittsburgh - 2020
Ed.M. - International Education Policy
Harvard Graduate School of Education - 2007
B.A. - English-ESL Secondary Education, Spanish minor
Colorado State University - 2003
Coursework - Spanish Literature
Universidad de las Americas - Mexico - 2001

Research Areas

Diminished quality of life among older women who suffer miscarriage during COVID-19 Era
Type III Subluxation- Errors in Problem Structuring & Fatal Remedies in Development Policy
Sexual violence against female children in Liberia: a cross-sectional study of statutory rape prevalence rates related to correlates of gender equity
Unwoke Global Health Policy Issues in 21st century International Development
Five Years Later, Empty Promises: Ensuring long-term policies and programs supporting people affected by Ebola - Case study of Liberia
Efficacy of Civil Society Organizations to Mitigate Gender-based Sexual Violence in Schools, in Liberia
Social Media Mass Hysteria during Pandemics: case study of Twitter communication patterns in the US during COVID-19


What Data Counts in Policymaking and Programming Evaluation- Relevant Data Sources for Triangulation according to Main Epistemologies and Philosophies within Social Science 2023 - Journal Article
Conducting Ethical Field Research on Rape in West African Settings: Case Study of 2018 Liberian Field Survey 2023 - Journal Article
Hardships, Motivations, and Resiliency: Case Study of Health Implications of 2022 Russian Invasion on Ukrainian Resistance Members 2022 - Journal Article
William Newlin Dunn (1939–2022) “The truest measure of an academic pillar” 2022 - Journal Article
Addressing Ethical Issues In Contemporary International Education & Development 2022 - Review
Fatal Remedies: Child Sexual Abuse and Education Policy in Liberia 2020 - Dissertation
Comparative Analysis of the Gendered Effects of Newly-Emergent Outbreaks on Women: Case Study of the 1918-20 Spanish Influenza, 2014/15 Ebola Pandemic, and 2019/20 COVID-19. 2020 - Journal Article
Role of Public Servants in Post-Epidemic Policy Implementation-Case Study of Social and Psychosocial Workers Supporting and Monitoring Post-Ebola Policies, in Liberia 2019 - Journal Article


Early Investigator Paper Prize - International Studies Association- Global health sector [2023]


International Studies Association (ISA)- Human Rights section [2022–2024]
Harvard Alumni for Education [2023–2024]
Chair of Sub-Saharan Africa Chapter
Harvard Alumni for Education [2020–2022]

News Articles

The unremarkable, unceremonious end of this pandemic should frighten us
Salon Editorial: A public health professor asks: How are we just letting this singular harrowing event die off silently?

UT Dallas professor says it's important to welcome Ukrainian refugees to North Texas
Dr. Jessi Hanson-DeFusco with UT Dallas is teaching her class about what's happening in Ukraine, and what it means for the war refugees fleeing their homes.
Playing to Live! Groundbreaking Program Tackles Trauma
When the outbreak was at its peak in Liberia, two Americans founded "Playing to Live," a project bringing play and art therapy to help the at-risk children affected by Ebola.

Mercy Documentary- Ebola Survivor
At the height of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, 9-year-old Mercy Kennedy watches as the ruthless virus ravages her mother. Shunned by her community, Mercy is left with nowhere to go and only her older brother, Harris, by her side. This short documentary follows the siblings’ struggle to survive as orphans of the outbreak – an unforgettable journey through their moments of crisis, heartbreak and joy.
UT Dallas researchers to study Ukrainian fighters
Researchers at UT Dallas are studying why so many Ukrainians are taking up arms to fight for their country. Dr. Jessica Hanson-Defusco, an assistant professor of global health policy at UTD, explains the study.


Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM)
Peace Corps Alumni Association
Harvard Alumni for Education
International Studies Association
Secretary- Human Rights Section
RESH Nonprofit Organization- Liberia


Intercultural Partnership for Health Promotion, Music and Experiential Learning-Virtual Project between UT-Dallas and Benin
- US Embassy- Benin [2022/08]
Dr. Jessi Hanson-DeFusco (in partnership with the International Center), in collaboration with Fidele Marc HOUNNOUVI, Clinical Psychologist, Expert in Community Health, Musician) Experienced Professional lecturer at the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Faith Ornhelia ZOUNON, Health Psychologist Professor Assistant in the Department of Psychology both at the Université d’Abomey Calavi in Benin, are leading a virtual academic exchange program for faculty and university students to implement a virtual learning exchange. This 2022/23 virtual learning exchange program will include digital exchange sessions focused on three key themes: 1) learning about US-Benin partnerships to support improved health, including discussions around recent collaborative projects funded by USAID, including antimalarial campaigns, COVID-19 prevention, and mental/psychosocial health (USAID, 2021), and continuing needs around health issues in Benin; 2) open dialogue among students/faculty about the impacts of COVID-19, including vaccination access programs and Mental and Psychosocial Support to Children and Teens Living with HIV; 3) share art and music of Benin as a means of self-expression, healing, and culture.