Women Leaders Gather To Celebrate Landmark Byllye Avery Endowed Professorship In New York

Source: Oscar Solis

Dec. 21 2023, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Activists, scholars, and feminist leaders gathered in New York for the public launch of the Byllye Avery Endowed Professorship Dec. 14. At the event, held at The City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH)’s Harlem campus, Avery delivered a roaring call to action: “Stop agonizing and start organizing.”

This momentous occasion, which included a panel moderated by Dr. Chelsea Clinton, united luminaries like Gloria Steinem, Loretta Ross, Abigail Disney and others from across the nation. Together, they honored Avery’s legacy as a women’s health trailblazer and celebrated the launch of CUNY SPH’s groundbreaking campaign— a first-of-its-kind endowed professorship in sexual and reproductive justice.

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Source: Oscar Solis

Byllye Avery has been honored with a landmark endowed professorship in her name, offered by The City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH).

Avery’s namesake professorship aims to train a new generation of activist scholars. Its mission is to cultivate innovative teaching methods and conduct research that centers the narratives of women of color as well as other marginalized groups. 

The event kicked off with Grammy-nominated artist Petawane singing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Panelists Avery, Terry McGovern, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs, Dr. Lynn Roberts, associate dean for student affairs, and doctoral student Phylicia Castillo-Sanders discussed the current landscape of reproductive health and justice. 

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Advocating For Reproductive Rights

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Source: Oscar Solis

Dr. Chelsea Clinton moderates the panel portion at the public launch of the Byllye Avery Endowed Professorship at CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in New York City Dec. 14.

The urgency of this discourse comes at a time when reproductive rights are severely under attack. The United States Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022 marked a significant setback. “We know how close this issue is to the threat of democracy,” Clinton emphasized. 

“Since SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, we have seen a rapid erosion of women’s rights and it is abundantly clear that now is the time for schools of public health to seize the mantle of reproductive justice,” McGovern said. “This professorship will help us develop a solutions-based curriculum focused on preparing the next cadre of sexual and reproductive justice leaders and most importantly, fierce advocates.”

Castillo-Saunders underscored the significance of the professorship, stating it “will provide the student body with the mentorship that is needed to engage in the critical thinking that we need for putting out different health solutions, interventions, policies, and even environmental regulations.”

It also signals a transformative era, ushering in a new master’s degree program in Maternal, Child, Reproductive, and Sexual Health. The curriculum will foster experiential learning and leadership development opportunities, preparing students to navigate tumultuous political climates amid unprecedented legislative changes related to reproductive rights.

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Source: Oscar Solis).

Gloria Steinem attends the celebration of the groundbreaking Byllye Avery Endowed Professorship at The City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH in New York City. (

Supporting Educational Success

Securing funding stands as the inaugural step in moving the professorship forward. “We have $4 million to raise,” Avery shared with Her Agenda. “We need funders to rise to the occasion, and then together, we’ll shape the curriculum.” 

Roberts envisions creating a robust sexual and reproductive justice hub within CUNY SPH. “We already have the people, the energy, the wisdom. We want to reinforce this significant position with additional resources and advisory.”

ICYMI, a live recording of the sit-down discussion is available on Youtube. For additional insights into The Byllye Avery Sexual and Reproductive Justice Endowed Professorship, visit the CUNY SPH Foundation’s official website.

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Tiffany Knighten is a writer, consultant, and the founder & CEO of Brand Curators. She is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs and BIPOC-led businesses. With a passion for entertainment and the arts, Tiffany uses her platform to amplify cultural conversations and individuals that create within those spaces.

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