Byllye Y. Avery

Byllye Y. Avery, founder of The Avery Institute for Social Change and the Black Women's Health Imperative, the new name of the National Black Women's Health Project, has been a health care activist for over 25 years focusing on women's needs.

Prior to her entry into the health care arena, Avery taught special education to emotionally disturbed students and consulted on learning disabilities in public schools and universities throughout the southeastern United States. Avery also co-founded both the Gainesville Women's Health Center and Birthplace, an alternative birthing center, in Gainesville, Fla.

Since its inception in Atlanta, Ga., the Black Women's Health Imperative has served as a non-profit organization committed to defining, promoting and maintaining the physical, mental and emotional well-being of Black women. A dreamer, visionary and grassroots realist, Avery has combined activism and social responsibility to develop a national forum for the exploration of the health issues of Black women. She continues to gather, document and speak on Black women's health experiences in America, rallying support for Black women.

Avery has been the recipient of many honors and awards. In 1989, she received the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for Social Contribution and the Essence Award for Community Service. In 1994, she received the Academy of Science Institute of Medicine's Gustav O. Lienhard Award for the Advancement of Health Care, and the Grassroots Realist Award by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. In 1995, she received the Dorothy I. Height Lifetime Achievement Award and the President's Citation of the American Public Health Association. In 1998, Business and Professional Women presented her with the New Horizons Award and she accepted a Leadership Award from the University of Florida's School of Medicine.

Avery has served on the Charter Advisory Committee for the Office of Research on Women's Health of the National Institutes of Health. In addition, she has served two years as a visiting fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. She has received honorary degrees from Thomas Jefferson University, State University of New York at Binghamton, Gettysburg College, Bowdoin College and Bates College.

Avery is a Florida native and currently lives in New York, N.Y.

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 7/30/2007