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 (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.
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 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.
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.
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.