Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Healing Women

Healing Women

More From Byllye

In this video

Avery describes the difficult issues dealt with in Black Women's Health Project meetings including domestic violence and incest.

Byllye's Biography

Cause of Choice: The Black Women's Health Imperative
Role Model Mom: Her brilliant mother was unusually educated for an African-American woman born in Georgia in 1908. She attended boarding school and later earned a masters degree from NYU.
Biggest Influence Never Met:  “Harriet Tubman. Because many days leading the Black Women’s Health Project I felt a lot like her, taking people through the marsh, looking for the north star and hoping that we reach the promised land together.”    
MAKERS Connection: She discovered her commitment to the women’s health movement after attending a conference organized by the Boston Women's Health Collective.

For more than 30 years, Byllye Avery has been a health care activist dedicated to bettering the welfare of low-income African American women through self-help groups and advocacy networks. She is the founder of The Avery Institute for Social Change and the Black Women’s Health Imperative.
Avery began her career in education as a teacher of emotionally disturbed children, but after her husband’s sudden death at age 33, she developed a strong commitment to improving the health of the African American community with a focus on women’s health issues.
 
In 1974 Avery co-founded the Women’s Health Center in Gainesville, Florida, and later became its president and executive director. Four years later she co-founded Birthplace, an alternative birthing center, also in Gainesville. As founder and executive director of the Black Women’s Health Project, now the Black Women’s Health Imperative, Avery helped the grassroots advocacy organization grow into an international network of more than 2,000 participants in 22 states and six foreign countries, producing the first Center for Black Women’s Wellness. In 1987, Avery produced the first documentary film by African American women exploring their perspectives on sexuality and reproduction.
 
After being awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 1989, Avery wrote and lectured widely on how race, sex, and class affect women’s empowerment in the women’s health movement. In 1994, she received the Academy of Science Institute of Medicine's Gustav O. Lienhard Award for the Advancement of Health Care, and in 2008 received the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award for a Pioneer in Women’s Rights. She has served as a clinical professor at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, an advisor to the National Institutes of Health, and was a visiting fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Related Videos

Robyn Beavers
Robyn Beavers
Sustainability Pioneer

As a civil engineer, Robyn Beavers is determined to see more women in science and engineering, and she is certainly a role model for young girls in this industry. Beavers is the fo...

Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard
United States Congresswoman, Hawaii

Tulsi Gabbard has served as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s second congressional district since 2013. She was born in American Samoa but moved to Hawaii at age 2. At 21...

Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova
Champion Tennis Player

Martina Navratilova is a tennis legend. Born and raised in Communist Czechoslovakia, she defected to the United States at 18 years old, leaving her family behind in order to pursue...

Judy Blume
Judy Blume
Best-Selling Author

Judy Blume is one of America’s most beloved authors and one of its most vigilant and committed anti-censorship activists. Her 28 titles include Tiger Eyes, Forever, and Are Y...