MacArthur Fellows Program

Byllye Avery

Women's Healthcare Leader | Class of 1989

Women's Healthcare Leader
Atlanta, Georgia
52 at time of award
Area of Focus
Health Policy
Published August 1, 1989

About Byllye's Work

Byllye Avery is the founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project (1981) in Atlanta, Georgia, renamed the Black Women’s Health Imperative.

Avery is a leader in the movement to bring black women of all economic strata in the United States together over issues of health and wellness.  She seeks to improve the health and self-esteem of black women through a holistic approach that addresses poor health and inequalities in health-care delivery.  She works with women who are victims of racial, sexual, and economic oppression. 


Avery co-founded the Gainesville Women's Health Center and alternative birthing center in Gainesville, Florida, (1974–1998) and the Avery Institute for Social Change, a national nonprofit organization confronting disparities in access and delivery of health-care services to communities of color.  She also serves as a clinical professor of population and family health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.  Avery has produced a film about young girls and sexuality entitled On Becoming a Woman (1987) and authored the book, An Altar of Words: Wisdom, Comfort, and Inspiration for African American Women (1998).

Avery received a B.A. (1959) from Talladega College and a M.Ed. (1969) from the University of Florida.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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