Byllye Avery"Whether you can live a healthy lifestyle is not only about good nutrition, keeping your weight down, or taking your medication. It's about how you think about yourself and whether you can access all the care that you need."

In 1981, Byllye Avery set out to improve the health of African American women by shraing knowledge about how to stay well. She discovered that helath problems plaguing Black women could be traced, not to lack of information, but to living in a racist , classist, hopmophobic society. Avery formed the National Black Women's Health Project to addree real barriers to women's health: schools that discriminate, unsafe jobs, lives compromised by fear and the need to survive.

As executive director of what is no the National Black Women's Health Imperative (NBWHI), Avery grew this grassroots organization into an international network with impact in Brazil, Nairobi, South Africa and Camaroon, where women have mibolized to assure better health for themselves and one another.  She earned a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989 and has since written and lectured on race, sex and class as deciding factors in women's ability to be healthy.

Avery marvels at the enormity of issues she took on and relishes every story she hears about a Black woman taking control of her life, thanks to the resources offered through NBWHI and Avery's example. Currently immersed in the struggles for reproductive rights and health care refrom in the United States, Avery generates her energy for the work out of the balance she's created in her own life and the home she enjoys with her partner.