EDDA COLLINS COLEMAN
When Edda Collins Coleman was a little girl, she didn’t realize that all the organizing, lobbying and campaigning that her parents and grandparents did would set the foundation for her adulthood career, but she is appreciative. Growing up, the Springfield, Illinois native tagged along with her family for various causes from lobbying for Carol Mosely Braun, to working with the NAACP, to volunteering at hospitals, and she continued that tradition from college and beyond.
“Growing up, it was always instilled in me, my sister and my brother that you always have to help someone along the way. That what you’re put on Earth to do is help other people not just for selfish reasons, and at a very young age not only was I campaigning but I was also volunteering at hospitals as a good Samaritan, I volunteered at the library, and the hospital just welcoming the patients in and getting them into their rooms,” Coleman tells HelloBeautiful. “When everyone else was having summer jobs I was volunteering. I didn’t understand it then but I understand it now. It’s amazing what a little wisdom and a few years will do to you.”
Coleman’s career journey has since taken her to Polsinelli Law Firm as legislative director, the staff of Governor Mark Warner, the Democratic National Committee, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Today, the sister of Alpha Kappa Alpha is the vice president of public affairs at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, where she is responsible for developing grassroots and issue advocacy strategies for clients. She also focuses on creating public affairs messaging, policy initiatives/campaigns, and is a gubernatorial appointee to the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth where she’s on the Board of Trustees, a member of the Board of Directors for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, and Co-Chair for the Women in Government Relations telecommunications and Technology Task Force. In short, her work and volunteer service work in tandem with her goals.
“This might seems cliché but service really makes the world better. There are people who are less fortunate and if you can just put a smile on their face and help them along the way that’s all that matters,” she says.
Her most important causes at the moment are increasing women’s presence in STEM, working to address childhood obesity in the Virginia-area, and raising awareness for Sickle Cell Anemia.
She lives by the words of Shirley Chisholm, “I am and always will be a catalyst for change.”
GET INVOLVED: The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America offers memberships, volunteer, and donation opportunities. Visit SicklecellDisease.org.
Women in Government Relations (WGR) encourages interested parties to become members, and also encourages sponsors to reach out for partnership opportunities. Visit wgr.org.
FOLLOW EDDA COLLINS COLEMAN ON TWITTER: @EddaColeman
DR. ALETHA MAYBANK
Dr. Aletha Maybank is a public health warrior who has made it her mission to make health and wellness education accessible and approachable. She is an Assistant Health Commissioner of the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, and works by the mantra that “health can be fun, sexy and on trend without losing substance” while trying to bring better nutrition to underserved communities.
Maybank began her career as a pediatrician working in neo natal intensive care but took public health courses while trying to figure out how she could apply her training as a physician to work in her community. Today, her focus is on helping underserved areas in Brooklyn get access to good quality, whole food.
“I like public health [because] it’s understanding that your individual behavior is influenced by the environment in which you live,” Maybank tells HelloBeautiful.com. “People say the doctor said to eat right and exercise but the reality is if your community does not support it and your environment does not support it then the access to fruits and vegetables is limited.”
When Dr. Maybank isn’t out and about for work, she’s busy contributing to Ebony, CNN, Arise TV and her website, On Call in the City, where she shares information on nutrition and health topics like cool workouts to try, how to survive a farmer’s market and more.
“It’s about being conscious of how you are going to change environments to help people live through the bodegas or the supermarkets or through policies that will propose that even if you put as much healthy food as you want in that community, it doesn’t mean that people are going to stop taking the unhealthy food choices because they’re so heavily marketed and so heavily present in our communities,” she tells us. “So, the role of government, and it has been since the beginning of time, is to implement policies that influence a population.”
Dr. Maybank is also a founding director at the Office of Minority Health, Co-Founder of the We are Doc McStuffins movement, and a founding member of the Artemis Medical Society, where she mentors burgeoning female physicians of color.
“It takes [doctors] who know how to talk to people and how people really listen to information to get to people,” she says. “People are moved by stories more so than they are statistics. When I talk about health stuff it’s not lofty or stuffy. I’m talking about how to apply it to your day-to-day life.
GET INVOLVED: Visit DrAlethaMaybank.com to see how you can get involved with any of her causes. Women interested in mentoring up and coming physicians should consider membership at the Artemis Medial Society. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
BYLLYE Y. AVERY
Byllye Yvonne Avery is a health care activist who has worked to improve the lives of African-American women for over 30 years. Her commitment to women’s health began in the mid 1970s, when she teamed up with other feminists and co-founded the Gainesville Women’s Health Center and Birthplace, midwifery service birthing center, in Gainesville, Florida (currently known as the Birth Center).
She founded the Black Women’s Health Imperative, formerly the National Black Women’s Health Project, in the early 80s, the Avery Institute for Social Change, and is also a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need. In addition, she is also as a member of the LLuminari and Be Well health expert network.
Her long list of awards includes the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for Social Contribution, the Essence Award for Community Service, the Dorothy I. Height Lifetime Achievement Award and many more. women. Her work with Black women sparked a movement of women of color to become involved in defining and work on health issues important to their constituencies.
GET INVOLVED: Donate or sign up for policy alerts and community updates at Blackwomenshealth.org.
FOLLOW BLACK WOMEN’S HEALTH ON TWITTER: @BlkWomensHealth