» MEd SPECIAL EDUCATION, '69
Byllye Avery has devoted more than 30 years to protecting and advocating for women’s healthcare. She is the founder of the Black Women's Health Imperative, the only national organization dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Black women and girls, and the Avery Institute for Social Change, a national nonprofit organization committed to healthcare reform.
After her husband’s sudden death at age 33, Avery made it a personal mission to improve the health of the Black community, particularly women. In 1974 she co-founded the Gainesville Women’s Health Center to serve low-income and minority women facing unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. Four years later she co-founded Birthplace, an alternative birthing center, also in Gainesville. Avery went on to co-found Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative working to ensure women’s concerns are addressed by policymakers.
Today, Avery continues to gather, document and speak on Black women's health experiences in America. Her work, which has enabled thousands of Black women to help define health issues, has been recognized through numerous honors and accolades including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Institute of Medicine’s Gustav O. Lienhard Award for the Advancement of Health Care.