Byllye Avery 
Founder, Black Women's Health Imperative

Byllye Avery, born in 1937 in DeLand, Florida, is an American healthcare activist and women's health advocate whose work and leadership over the past 40+ years have centered on bettering the health and well-being of African American women through self-help groups and advocacy networks. One of the founders of reproductive justice, Avery has worked to develop healthcare services and education that address Black women's mental and physical health stressors. She is best known as the founder of the National Black Women's Health Project, the first national organization to specialize in Black women's reproductive health issues. 

Her work has influenced movements to improve Black women's health across the U.S and around the world. 

Avery studied psychology at Talladega College (B.A., 1959) and received an M.A. in Special Education from the University of Florida (1969). She devoted herself to the education of emotionally disturbed children, first as a teacher and then as a consultant to the state of Florida. Her husband’s sudden death at age 33 was the catalyst for Avery’s commitment to improving the health of the African American community; she focused particularly on women who, like herself, had a high level of stress in their lives. Self-help groups for African American women facing poverty, crime, violence, and racism were the cornerstones of her activism.

In 1974 Avery cofounded the Gainesville (Florida) Women’s Health Center and later became its president and executive director. Four years later she cofounded Birthplace, an alternative birthing centre, also in Gainesville. The self-help groups she initiated served as models throughout the nation and worldwide, and they paved the way for her founding in 1983 of the National Black Women’s Health Project (NBWHP; since 2003 the Black Women’s Health Imperative). That year the NBWHP held its first national conference at Spelman College in Atlanta. As executive director (1982–90) of the National Black Women's Health Project, Avery helped the grassroots advocacy organization grow to an international network of more than 2,000 participants in 22 states and 6 foreign countries, producing not only the first Center for Black Women’s Wellness but also the first  documentary film by African American women exploring their perspectives on sexuality and reproduction.

For her proposals and work with the NBWHP, which enabled thousands of African American women to take charge of their healthcare, Avery was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 1989. In the 1990s she wrote and lectured widely on how race, sex, and class affect women’s empowerment in the women’s health movement. In 2008 Avery received the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award for a Pioneer in Women’s Rights. In January 2009 she became a community host for BeWell.com, the first expert-guided online health and wellness social network.


Linda Goler Blount
President  & CEO, Black Women's Health Imperative, Washington, DC

Linda Goler  Blount (MPH), joined  the  Black  Women’s  Health  Imperative (BWHI) as the president  and  chief executive officer in February 2014.  Linda  oversees BWHI’s  strategic  direction and is  responsible  for directing the organization toward achieving its mission of  leading efforts to solve the most pressing health issues that affect Black women and girls in the United States.

Before joining BWHI, Linda served as the vice president of programmatic impact for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, where she led the effort to eliminate inequalities in health, income, education and housing through place- and population‐based work. Prior to that position, Linda was the first‐ever national vice president of health disparities at the American Cancer Society.  There, she was responsible for providing the strategic vision and  leadership to the society and its 12 geographic divisions to reduce cancer incidences and mortality among underserved populations and to develop a nationwide health equity policy.

With more than 25 years of experience in the public, for‐profit and nonprofit sectors, Linda has  a  distinguished  career  that  includes  successful  tenures  at  The  Coca‐Cola  Company,  leading  strategic  business  initiatives,  and the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as an expert scientist. She also has extensive international  health  expertise as  a  consultant to  government ministries  in Germany,  South Africa,  Zimbabwe, Malawi,  Jamaica,  and Trinidad and Tobago, where she lived for four years. 

Linda is a prominent speaker and a member of the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Health Services Executives. She serves on  the  Community  Health  Charities  Board,  the  University  of  Michigan  School  of  Public  Health  Summer Enrichment Program Board and is the past chair of the University of Michigan  School of  Public Health Alumni Board of Governors. She previously served on the Emory University Center for Ethics Advisory Board, and the Morehouse School of Medicine Public Health Program Advisory Committee. 

A Michigan native, Linda holds a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering/Operations Research from Eastern Michigan University.


Shannon All Around
CPT President, All Around Sports, LLC, Milwaukee, WI

The President of All Around Sports/Fitness, LLC (ASF), Shannon All Around, CPT, has extensive years of experience in the fields of athletics and health & fitness. Shannon is a Certified Personal Trainer, and numerous years of competitive sports play as well as sports training such as skill work, strength, conditioning, and agility work. Shannon played competitive sports at the middle school, high school, and Division 1 Collegiate level. She has been training and coaching athletes for over ten years. Throughout Shannon’s coaching span the following sports were covered basketball, soccer, volleyball, track & field, and softball and each team won 1st place championships due to Shannon's guidance and expertise. Shannon is accustomed to success, and will show athletes and non-athletes alike, the proper technique to train for success. Adults and youth receive fitness training at All Around Sports/Fitness. Shannon has 12 years of experience in the field of health and fitness.


Keena Atkinson
Entrepreneur & Certified Yoga and WERQ Instructor


Keena is a Co-President of the Brown Girl, Green Money Madison Meetup Chapter, owner of Knaturally (beauty and fitness business), and Co-Founder of the Uplift Innovative Youth Alliance and a former executive leader for a fortune 500 retailer. A lover of fitness and active living, Keena is also a certified yoga instructor and a WERQ instructor who can be found teaching classes across the Greater Madison area. Outside of work and service, she is a Mother to her two sons. Keena is passionate about building financial wealth, education, and empowerment in people of all ages through budgeting, planning, thought, and action.



Joanna Brooks
Owner, Embody Yoga, Milwaukee, WI 
Joanna is a registered yoga teacher and owner of Embody YOGA. Joanna first developed an interest in yoga as a teenager. Over the years, she experimented with various forms of physical fitness and dance before returning to the practice in 2011. Joanna started Embody YOGA, on a mission to share the practice of yoga with people of color by offering classes that were accessible, affordable and culturally relevant. Since its founding in 2015, Embody YOGA has served over 400 students, the majority of whom identify as people of color. Nothing brings her more joy than to witness her students develop a personal relationship and connection to the practice of yoga. 

Joanna holds a Master's Degree in Community Counseling (with an emphasis in child and adolescent counseling) from Marquette University and has a deep commitment to promoting wholistic wellness in communities of color. 


Jamila Carney
Owner, Agape Yogastry, Milwaukee, WI
Jamila Carney is a certified yoga teacher and Owner of Agape Yogatry. Dance first brought her to the mat. Her first desire to do yoga was to increase her flexibility so that she could be a better liturgical dancer and therefore a better instrument for God's use. 

She quickly learned that her history and discipline in dance and tae kwon do gave her a natural ease in practice and she quickly fell in love. The benefits of the mat drew her to wanting more people to experience yoga. Agape Yogastry, established in 2018, is the language in which Jamila communicates God's love. 

Jamila truly believes that connecting with the breath through yoga allows God's creation to connect with the Creator and the One who gives the breath. Her love for God and people are evident in her classes through the musical selections, her class theming, and cues. 


Amy Crowe
Financial Education Specialist, Summit Credit Union
Amy Crowe is a certified educator in personal finance and a sought after speaker and financial expert with over 20 years experience in the credit union industry. She is passionate about teaching others to tools to be financially successful, with a special love for empowering women and girls to own and grow their money. In her role as the Financial Education Specialist at Summit Credit Union, she motivates people to change their financial habits to reach their goals. She is responsible for several financial education programs including the Project Money program - a financial challenge where four families reduce their debt, increase their savings and share their stories with the community through blogs and TV interviews. Amy is a graduate of the University of WI – Stevens Point with a background in marketing, public relations, financial services and personal finances. She is a foodie and lives in the Madison area with her husband and daughter.



Angela Fitzgerald
Financial Educator, Entrepreneur & TV Host, Summit Credit Union & Wisconsin Public Television

Angela is a true renaissance woman of many talents. A program evaluator turned wealth building enthusiast, Angela has found her niche in encouraging and empowering women of color as they pursue their own personal finance goals. When she is not working as a Financial Education Coordinator with Summit Credit Union, you can find her hosting Wisconsin Public Television's popular Wisconsin Life show that showcases the diverse stories and lives of Wisconsin citizens. In her spare time, Angela can be found education the masses as a member of the Brown Girl Green Money team or running her own natural body product business, Body Shine.




Gale Johnson
Director, Wisconsin Well Woman Program 

Gale D. Johnson has been the director of the Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP) in the Department of Health Services for the last 20 years. The WWWP is the Wisconsin component of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Since 1994, the WWWP has provided health screening services to more than 70,000 Wisconsin women. Ms. Johnson is a past Chair of the Council for Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control. She is also a past president of the Wisconsin Association of Black State Employees. For many years, Ms. Johnson has been a very active member of the Wisconsin Women of Color Network (WWOCN). Recognizing the importance of women living long healthy lives, Ms. Johnson has coordinated health programs for the WWOCN for more than 10 years.



Debbie Jones, MD
Physician, Hospitalist, SSM Health - St. Mary's Hospital


Dr. Debbie Jones is a Hospitalist physician for SSM Health - St. Mary’s in Madison, WI. She has been a full-time Hospitalist for 20 years, and among the first to serve in such a role in Wisconsin. Dr. Jones has been the director of 2 Hospitalist programs – Family Health Plan (Milwaukee, WI) and Swedish American Hospital (Rockford, IL). She is a board certified Internist who received her education at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine (Maywood, IL) and her formal training at St. Joseph Hospital (Chicago, IL). Dr. Jones is a member of the Society of Hospitalist Medicine. She is also a breast cancer survivor- diagnosed in 2002.



Vanessa McDowell
DJ ACE and President & CEO, YWCA Madison 
DJ ACE, aka Vanessa McDowell is a leading woman of many talents! A CEO by day, and DJ by night, she has been named one of Madison's premier disk jockeys and can be found spinning the hottest jams at local parties and celebrations across the city in her spare time. She has been DJ'ing in the Madison area for over 8 years and is frequently in demand! She has performed at several high profile events including Dane Dances, CapitaLand Music Festival, Gospel Fest, Madison Network of Black Professionals First Fridays, Live After Five, the Next Level Artist Showcase, various weddings and graduations, and is a favorite feature at the annual Black Women's Wellness Day event! By day, Vanessa serves at the CEO of Madison's YWCA, leading a powerful agenda to achieve racial and gender equality in our region. She is the first African American CEO in the 106 hear history of the YWCA.


Sarah Noble 
Principal Partner, BeNOBLE Group


Sarah Noble has been actively working for social justice for more than 30 years. She has held many leadership positions, including as the Reproductive Justice Collective's Founder and former Managing Director. Along with her many years of leadership, Sarah is a conscientious and skilled communicator who brings creative and positive energy to every endeavor. She has coached and trained many notable successful leaders, and served on a number of coalitions, committees, and boards. She is currently the Principal Partner of the BeNOBLE Group, a social engagement company creating community through networks, education and training, and experiential travel. 



Lisa Peyton-Caire
Founder & President, The Foundation for Black Women's Wellness 
& Black Women's Wellness Day

Lisa Peyton-Caire is the Founder & Host of Black Women’s Wellness Day, and Founder and President of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, a Wisconsin based non-profit organization committed to empowering Black women and girls to build and sustain healthy, thriving, wellness-centered lives. Ms. Peyton-Caire is a passionate advocate for the health and wellness of all women and girls and the communities and families from which they emerge. Ms. Peyton-Caire is a mother of five and educator of over 20 years, and has and continues to serve in a number of leadership roles spanning public health, PreK-16 education, financial services, and women's empowerment. She presently serves on the Boards of Unity Point - Meriter Health, the Center for Resilient Cities, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and as an Advisory Council member of the first event Women's Entrepreneurship Day - Wisconsin. In her spare time Lisa enjoys writing, singing, traveling, and spending time with her family.


Angie Price
Phlebotomist, Wellness Enthusiast & FFBWW Wellness Ambassador
Angie Price is a phlebotomist and resides in Madison, Wisconsin with her family. Her job is rewarding and she loves what she does. She enjoys hiking and long walks and spending time with family, and has only recently realized how her personal journey to wellness and weight loss has inspired others. Being a happier, healthier person has changed her life, and she is passionate about sharing her successes with others. In 2016, Angie started her own personal weight loss journey, weighing in at that time at 300 pounds. She knew she needed a change and that's exactly what she did with focus and determination to live a healthier lifestyle. She changed the way she looked at food, and through diet and exercise, has lost a total of 145 lbs in a 2 year time span. Angie practices yoga and meditation daily, and is mindful of what she puts into her body. She enjoys sharing and teaching others from her life lessons and personal journey to live their best life. She is presently preparing to complete yoga instructor certification. 


Angela Smith
Owner, The Zen Dragonfly, LLC, Milwaukee, WI
Angela Smith is a Certified Holistic Life Coach, Mindfulness Practitioner, Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master Teacher, Feng Shui Practitioner and Creative. Angela is devoted to nurturing deep healing in women and facilitates healing circles, private and group yoga classes, and other wholistic practices to empower women to break through barriers that stop them from living full and rich lives freely.  After studying Nia at Milwaukee's Core El Centro for almost 4 years and hearing many times that she should teach it, Angela decided it was time to get certified...and level one was not sufficient. She blew through the classes and became a green belt instructor in under two years, now teaching SOWFUL movement for every BODY! 

Recently, Angela became a Yoga instructor with a focus in therapeutic practice for overall well-being, assisting others in increasing their quality of life. She hosts monthly mediation sessions and assists others in finding a home practice that works for their lifestyle. Over the years of developing her wellness practice, Angela has truly realized her ultimate goal: to help people find and feel joy in their bodies, hearts and minds through their transitions in life, for the rest of their life, as it is what we are all meant to experience! Angela completed her Life Coach certification and training with the Academy of Creative Coaching and integrates her training in Reiki and Feng Shui to help clients create beautiful, peaceful spaces in their inner lives and in their physical spaces and homes through her 'Living in a Sacred Home' lifestyle coaching. Angela can be contacted in either of her two Milwaukee locations. Visit www.thezendragonfly.com and www.facebook.com/zdfly to reach her.  


Tamara Washington
Clinical Specialist/Addictions Counselor, Mental Health Professional
Tamara Washington is a mental health professional currently serving as an OWI (operating while intoxicated) assessor and addictions counselor at Journey Mental Health Center where she has worked since July 2015. She is a former youth counselor and has worked in the field of addictions for about 10 years with youth and adults. In witnessing the shortage of African American women in the mental health/recovery profession, she decided to pursue and remain in the addictions and mental health field. Tamara believes that the more we see ‘our faces’ in this area of work and therapy, the more we will begin to embrace and take advantage of opportunities and resources that bolster our health and wellness. "We owe it to ourselves and our families, and I am hoping that by seeing other African American women teaching, talking, and learning wellness, we set the standard and raise the bar for overall wellness in our culture". Tamara is the mother of two sons.


Jasmine Zapata, MD
Pediatrician, Author, Speaker
Jasmine Zapata is a pediatrician, author, motivational speaker, former college athlete, and community and international volunteer committed to promoting health and wellness. She is a is passionate preventative health advocate and health educator who can be found in many settings across the community engaging audiences of all ages in learning about and maintaining optimal health. Dr. Zapata is also a mother, wife, and entrepreneur whose endeavors combine her knowledge and practice of medicine and wellness with her business acumen to create motivational books and learning experiences for youth, entrepreneurs, and others. Her mission is to heal, uplift, empower and inspire which can be readily seen and felt in all of her work. One of her many passions both inside and outside of the clinic walls is to empower and inspire girls to make healthy choices, embrace their inner beauty, overcome despite adversity, and never give up their dreams.