Martha is a political scientist with special interests in the population factor in development, women’s reproductive health, and attention to scale.
In the 1990s she directed the population programme in the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which included reproductive rights.
In 2000 she founded the non-profit Venture Strategies for Health and Development (Venture Strategies, or VSHD).
At the request of three leading African gynecologists, Venture Strategies was the first organisation anywhere in the world to achieve a country’s regulatory approval of misoprostol for postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).
The first success was in Nigeria in 2006. This facilitation was quickly expanded to Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Bangladesh and Nepal, with the involvement of the governments at their request.
VSHD then expanded this programme further by creating its partner organisation Venture Strategies Innovations (VSI) in 2008, again by facilitating regulatory approvals in countries at the request of the governments.
Martha is a Lecturer in Global Health in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
She led the first comprehensive review of the broad range of unnecessary barriers that make family planning difficult for women to obtain in many countries.
She has written and spoken widely on the importance of women’s access for family planning; misunderstandings on the population subject; and why there has been silence and long held sensitivity in these matters.
Her most recent article, with her husband Malcolm Potts, is the Impact of Freedom on Fertility Decline, introducing a paradigm shift to clarify the importance of women’s ability to manage whether and when to have a child.
Her degrees are from Wellesley College and the University of Colorado.