What To Expect Project

Meet The Team

Heidi Murkoff
Founder

It all started with a baby and a book. Heidi Murkoff conceived the idea for What to Expect When You’re Expecting during her first pregnancy, when she couldn’t find answers in the books she turned to for much-needed advice. Just hours before delivering her daughter Emma, Heidi delivered the proposal for a pregnancy guide that would help other expectant parents sleep better at night. She was a mom on a mission — a mission that was only getting started.

Dubbed the “pregnancy bible,” What to Expect When You’re Expecting has more than 19 million copies in print. Now in its 5th edition, the book hit a publishing milestone in June of 2015 when it became the longest-running title of all time on The New York Times bestseller list, a record it still holds. USA Today has named it one of the most influential books in a quarter century — also reporting that it is read by 93 percent of women who read a pregnancy book.Other titles in the series include What to Expect the First Year (now in its 3rd edition), Eating Well When You’re Expecting, What to Expect Before You’re Expecting (a complete guide to getting pregnant, now in its 2nd edition), and What to Expect the Second Year, the must-have guide for parents of toddlers.The What to Expect books have sold more than 42 million copies and are published in 38 countries and in 34 languages. Heidi’s What to Expect Kids’ books include What to Expect When Mommy’s Having a Baby and What to Expect When the New Baby Comes Home.

In 2005, Heidi expanded the What to Expect (WTE) brand online with WhatToExpect.com, which currently registers 60% of all U.S. pregnancies and features the #1 rated pregnancy app in the App Store. WhatToExpect.com is home to an active and engaged community of more than 20 million moms, with an average of 800,000 new posts each month, a new post every 3 seconds, and the average user visiting 14 times a month. The app offers personalized weekly content and videos by Heidi, and she also connects daily with her WTE family through Facebook, IG and Twitter. She personally answers questions from the WhatToExpect community in her weekly column, Help Me Heidi. In 2012, Heidi helped turn her iconic book into a feature film—“What to Expect When You’re Expecting”—acting as executive producer. The film, a comedy that stars Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock, and Elizabeth Banks, features five couples whose intertwining lives are turned upside down by impending parenthood.

Heidi’s passionate commitment to moms and babies led to the creation of the What to Expect Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping moms in need expect healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, and healthy babies. With a beautiful, culturally appropriate, accessible pregnancy guide (provided at no cost to at-risk moms), supportive curriculum, and training for health care professionals and staff in clinics, the WTE Project’s groundbreaking Baby Basics—available in English, Spanish, and Chinese—has helped over 950,000 expectant moms-to-be and babies in need. The Project also partnered with the State Department to bring Baby Basics global, starting with Liberia and Bangladesh.  

In 2013 Heidi and her husband Erik joined forces with the USO in Special Delivery, a program that celebrates and supports expectant military moms serving far from family and friends. Heidi has hosted over 160 Special Delivery baby showers – complete with lunch, games, gifts, a Q&A and lots of hugs – for over 30,000 military moms, both active duty and spouses, around the world, from Germany to Japan, Korea to Guam, Texas to Kansas, Alaska to North Carolina. Special Delivery Dad’s Edition showers – also hosted by Heidi and featuring dinner, games, gifts, photos and hugs – celebrate military dads-to-be at bases around the world.  Both the Mom and Dad showers offer parents not only the chance to connect with Heidi but with one another, helping them create vital local networks of friendship and support.

The What to Expect Project has expanded its mission globally to reach the most vulnerable moms around the world, to help ensure the care, information and support they need to have healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, and healthy babies. A partnership with International Medical Corps supports life-saving maternal-child health care, midwife and community training, and the building of maternal-child health clinics in Africa and the Middle East. Through the Project's work with International Medical Corps, Heidi, in her role as First Responder, has joined their team of humanitarian health care workers in the field in some of the world’s most devastated areas (including South Sudan, Sierra Leone, the Somali and Syrian borders). The Project also partners with diverse organizations – in the U.S. and globally – to advance maternal health. In her many visits to the field, Heidi has hugged her way through dozens of villages, training facilities, and refugee camps. 

In 2015, The What to Expect Project debuted the social campaign #BumpDay with founding partners International Medical Corps, 1,000 Days and the United Nations Foundation Universal Access Project and in collaboration with WhatToExpect.com. The campaign celebrates beautiful bumps and healthy pregnancies around the world, while raising awareness about the urgent need to end maternal deaths and to advocate for improved maternal-health care both in the U.S. and globally. #BumpDay encourages moms to post photos of their bumps while sharing messages of support for moms  – and has generated hundreds of thousands of posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, including from such influencers as Olivia Wilde, Christy Turlington, Coco Rocha, Brooklyn Decker, Pharrell Williams, TV personalities Sarah Haines, Jessica Moore, and Jenni Pulos, as well as numerous policymakers. The total reach across all social platforms for #BumpDay 2018 was over 33 million. In 2020, #BumpDay received mentions from Forbes and the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, and numerous leading domestic and global health entities and organizations were actively involved, among them the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March of Dimes, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Association of County Health Officials, mothers2mothers, Project Hope, the Hunger Project,Pathfinder International, and Jhpiego.

In 2020, Heidi and Emma began the podcast, What To Expect, with iHeart Radio to help navigate the entire journey, from conception, to pregnancy, to the first years of parenting. The podcast breaks down the biggest questions, interviews famous moms and covers the issues from healthcare to childcare to maternal leave. Guests who have come on the What To Expect podcast include Tia Mowry, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sara Haines and Amy Schumer.

As the Project's founder, Heidi regularly advocates for maternal and child health, speaking and making media appearances with many leaders in the U.S. Congress on issues such as the ACA, COVID-19, Zika (and other health emergencies), family leave and childcare, and a range of maternal and child health legislation, including policies impacting military families. She works closely with the CDC and other public health entities and sits on the board of the 2020 Collaborative.

In 2011, TIME magazine named Heidi one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She has also been honored by Smithsonian Associates with the prestigious John P. McGovern Award, which recognizes contributions to American families, and has been inducted into the Books For a Better Life Hall of Fame. Heidi has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including the TODAY show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Early Show, Oprah, BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Australia, and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. 

Annie G. Toro, JD, MPH
President and Executive Director

Ms. Toro has worked in the field of policy for over 25 years. She has held senior management level positions at various widely recognized and leading health entities. She is currently President and Executive Director of The What To Expect Project. Prior to being appointed to her current role, Ms. Toro worked at the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention leading their International Regulatory Policy and Advocacy work and serving as lead expert for global health - working closely with a range of stakeholders, including the UN and key multilateral agencies, as well as private sector and policymakers. She previously served as International Medical Corps’ Senior Advisor, leading all global health and nutrition policy and advocacy efforts across the organization’s global programs impacting more than 30 countries, on 4 continents and staff and volunteers of over 8,000.

Throughout her career, Ms. Toro has worked on a wide range of issues – with a longstanding career impacting domestic and global issues, including maternal and child health; HIV/AIDS; tuberculosis; malaria; mental health and substance abuse; family planning and reproductive health; global health security; water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition and food security; women’s health and rights; health disparities; occupational health; non-communicable diseases; violence prevention; environmental health; food safety; emergency preparedness and response; workforce development; school health; immigration; housing; poverty; and health and education funding. Ms. Toro served as Democratic Staff Director at the U.S. House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and also as Senior Legislative Counsel to U.S. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez. She has also held positions at the World Health Organization and the Organization of American States, among others.

Ms. Toro has earned numerous recognitions and awards, and has served on many leadership roles throughout her career.

Wyatt Murkoff
Director of Policy and Strategy

Wyatt brings years of experience working in the strategic vision, development, execution and evaluation of policy initiatives. As the Director of Policy and Strategy, Wyatt manages the organization's public policy priorities focused on a range of issues impacting maternal and child health in the U.S. and globally. He develops, advises and leads the implementation of WTEP's policy activities, and manages the execution of advocacy campaigns and projects that support WTEP's mission. Wyatt also establishes and maintains effective relationships with a range of partners and external stakeholders, as well as with senior-level executive branch and elected officials. He represents WTEP at policy and advocacy coalitions, and other related stakeholder groups.

Wyatt also leads the organization's research, drafting and dissemination of numerous policy fact sheets on identified priority issues. In this role, he also supports strategic and annual planning efforts, and identifies new ideas and opportunities for new business development.

Prior to his current role, Wyatt worked with a number of health entities focusing on health policy and global development. He also comes to WTEP with vast experience on New Business Development strategies.

Wyatt received his Master’s in Economics, Politics and Business from Claremont University, with a focus on public policy and quantitative methods.

Ruth Turoff
Baby Basics Program Director

As Baby Basics' Program Director for over 17 years, Ruth has played an integral role in the development of The What to Expect Project’s signature program, Baby Basics. She brought her project management and organizational skills to WTEP from a website production and digital design background and is fluent in multi-disciplinary team management. Her expertise in that arena, and experience with other agencies in the maternal child health field including Childbirth Connection and Forty Weeks PR, quite naturally led to her participation from the inception of every aspect of the program – from production of its tools and materials to development of curricula and training to providing technical assistance for implementation across the country. As the Project grew, Ruth took over the daily management of our publishing agenda and training program, and currently oversees the Baby Basics Program domestically.

Tejal Patel, M.S.
Project Manager

Tejal manages WTEP’s Pregnancy Pandemic Preparedness Project. In collaboration with the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO), the PPP Project will identify, evaluate, and address health-seeking behaviors and barriers to preconception and prenatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from the PPP Project will be integral in developing outreach plans and recommendations for maternal health policy. As a former preschool teacher and current public health researcher, Tejal understands the importance of research, practice, and policy partnerships and dissemination.

Tejal’s prior work has primarily focused on parenting, parent-child relationships, and children’s mental and behavioral health. Tejal uses an interdisciplinary approach to address emerging issues in maternal and child health. Her previous experiences also include research and evaluation in juvenile delinquency and mentorship programming, school-based nutrition practices, neuro-imaging and adolescent risky behaviors, environmental civic engagement and advocacy among students, primary care capacity, oral healthcare, comprehensive sex education in Louisiana, opioid use, healthcare engagement and retention among people living with HIV, safe sleep practices and infant mortality, telehealth utilization during COVID-19, and utilizing equity-centered design thinking in community engagement to inform research prioritization. 

Tejal received her Master’s in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Virginia Tech. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Public Health at Tulane University. 

Claire Lorenzetti
Program and Policy Associate

Claire brings experience in advocacy, research and policy across a range of sectors aimed at delivering services to those in need from a global, domestic and local perspective. This includes a particular focus on maternal and child health, food security, poverty eradication, environment and gender equality issues in the U.S. and globally. 

Most recently, Claire worked at the Hunger Project where she led a variety of efforts, including collaborative research on sustainable international development and advocating on Capitol Hill for maternal health, food security and other priority areas. In this role, she also developed special initiatives, content and supported relevant policies to amplify impact, expand awareness and deliver results. 

Claire has actively engaged in a range of activities aimed at helping underserved and vulnerable groups by providing critical information, resources and tools to empower populations and bring about positive change. She brings a collaborative approach to her work, engaging in active listening and elevating different perspectives and diverse voices.

Claire studied at the University of Maryland, College Park where she earned her Bachelors’ degree in Sociology. She used qualitative and quantitative research methods to analyze and study populations around the world. Her studies focused on cross-cultural differences in women, and strategic public policy choices aimed at protecting vulnerable populations.