Byllye Y. Avery, is a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices and founder of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the new name of the National Black Women’s Health Project. She has been a health care activist for over 35 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. Avery has been the recipient of many honors and awards including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for Social Contribution and the Essence Award for Community Service. the Academy of Science Institute of Medicine’s Gustav O. Lienhard Award for the Advancement of Health Care Avery has served on the Charter Advisory Committee for the Office of Research on Women’s Health of the National Institutes of Health and 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, Bates College and Russell Sage College.

Lois Uttley is a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices and Program Director for the Women’s Health Program of Community Catalyst. She serves on the steering committee of Health Care for All New York (HCFANY) and is co-chair of HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force.

Ms. Uttley has served as President of the Public Health Association of NYC and Chair of the national Action Board of the American Public Health Association. Previously, Ms. Uttley served as Vice President of the Education Fund of Family Planning Advocates of NYS and as Director of Public Affairs for the NYS Department of Health. Earlier, she had a 14-year career as an award-winning journalist. She earned a Master’s in Public Affairs and Policy from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany and was a National Urban Fellow. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Gloria Award from the Ms. Foundation for Women.

Cindy Pearson is a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices and is Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network. She is currently the president of the board of directors of Women’s Health Specialists in Northern California, and is the treasurer of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

Founded in 1975, the Network was the first feminist health group to utilize a national membership in support of D.C.based health activism. The Network’s goal is to bring the voices of women everywhere decisions are being made that affect women’s health. The Network testifies before Congress and the FDA, speaks out at scientific meetings, publicizes issues through the media, networks individual activists and other local and national groups working on women’s health, and mobilizes its constituency to influence decisions made by federal regulatory agencies. Cindy became NWHN’s Executive Director in May 1996.

Sarah Christopherson is the Policy Advocacy Director for the National Women’s Health Network and directs federal policy initiatives for Raising Women’s Voices.

Prior to joining the NWHN and RWV, Sarah worked for Congress from 2005 to 2015, including serving as the Washington Director to Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) from 2010 to 2015. Her experience includes work on the Affordable Care Act, reproductive health and rights, and the relationship of banking and tax policy on income inequality, among other areas. She has bachelor’s degrees in political science and history from Arizona State University and a graduate degree in foreign policy from George Washington University.

Ann Danforth is Senior State Advocacy Manager for Raising Women’s Voices. She works with RWV regional coordinators in the more progressive states to promote adoption of our model “women and reproductive health friendly” policies for ACA implementation.

Previously, she was Advocacy and Policy Coordinator for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Initiative. A May 2016 graduate of the Columbia University Masters in Social Work Program, she was an Advocacy and Social Work Fellow for the National Organization for Women (NOW) NYC chapter.

Kalena Murphy is the Senior State Advocacy Manager for Raising Women’s Voices. She works with RWV regional coordinators in conservative states and those that have yet to expand Medicaid.

Prior to joining RWV, Kalena served as Navigator Coordinator for Enroll Michigan and chair of the Enroll West Michigan coalition. Her experience includes work on Affordable Care Act implementation and health insurance marketplaces, Medicaid, outreach and enrollment, mobilizing coalitions and stakeholders, and social determinants of health. A graduate of Grand Valley State University with a BS in biomedical science, her college experience led her to become a passionate health advocate.


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Meet us

Raising Women’s Voices (RWV) is a national initiative working to make sure women’s voices are heard and women’s concerns are addressed as policymakers put the health care law into action. RWV was founded in 2007. It is co-ordinated by the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the National Women’s Health Network and the Women's Health Program of Community Catalyst and currently has 25 regional coordinators in 27 states.

What we believe

We believe health coverage should be lifelong, portable from job to job and from workplace to home, non-discriminatory, user-friendly and affordable for our families. We want it to cover women’s health care throughout the lifespan, including comprehensive reproductive health care, pre-natal care, maternity care, primary and preventive services, acute care, dental and mental health care, as well as chronic care.

RWV has a special mission of engaging women who are not often invited into health policy discussions, including women of color, low income women, immigrant women, young women, women with disabilities and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Our regional coordinators help represent the interests of these constituencies.