The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness presents
the 11th Annual Black Women’s Wellness Day
Working to Heal the Whole Black Woman
Deputy Mayor Leslie Orrantia (l-r), Deputy Mayor Linda Vakunta and
Executive Assistant Natasha Holmes bring their special skills and
knowledge to Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s leadership team.
“There are women who have started similar events and have been very open and honest in telling me that it was Black Women’s Wellness Day that inspired
them to start similar conferences in other cities and states,” Peyton-Caire said. “So we really influenced a great deal over the last 11 years. And we are proud
of that. It comes sometimes with a little bit of challenge. It forced us on how we need to trademark and take ownership of what we’ve created. But of course
everything that serves the highest good of elevating Black women’s health, we want to see that proliferate in other places. We’ve had to ask folks not to use
the name Black Women’s Wellness Day. But we are certainly happy that we inspired them to create other events like this for Black women in places like
California, Washington, D.C., Maryland and New Orleans.”

In some ways, Black Women’s Wellness Day was the cart that came before the horse. When she moved to Madison with her husband Kaleem and their
children, Peyton-Caire continued the tradition and it became readily apparent when Madison women took hold of the concept that it needed a formal vehicle to
continue.

By 2014, The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness had formed and become a 501(c)(3) organization. And although Black Women’s Wellness Day was its
main — if not only — activity for the foundation, the health and wellness needs of Black women were so much larger than could be addressed by a one-day
event.

Through surveys and pleadings and networking, Peyton-Caire and the women who loyally volunteer for the organization have grown the foundation, so that it
now has an office suite, the Black Women’s Health and Wellness Center, on Grand Teton Drive on Madison’s west side. In the conference room, photos of
Peyton-Caire’s mother line the room, reminding everyone present what their mission is all about.

“I am a working president and CEO,” Peyton-Caire said with a chuckle. “My hands are into all of the direct services and supports as well as building the
vision and infrastructure. I have two part-time staff who focus squarely on community outreach and all of our supports around our programming and they,
along with me and a network of partners and through our ambassador corps — which is our volunteer core of women — we operate much like a very tight
network of collaborators so that when a woman comes to the Foundation with a need, we have an intake process. We assess what her needs are. And we
immediately begin to connect her with resources that we are tied to. And then we begin to triage and connect with other existing organizations and resources
to get all the pieces in place that she needs. Because of that model, we don’t necessarily have to have all the resources under the umbrella of The Foundation.
We work within the existing resources so we don’t recreate the wheel and duplicate resources. We better utilize them and eliminate the gaps between women
and the services they need. We navigate with them. And help move those resources to where they are really needed. This has been crucial to women and they
are so grateful.”

While the foundation focuses on the individual health and wellness situations of individual Black women, they are also working on the policy and system side
to make sure that the health systems and resources on the macro end are conducive to the health and wellness of Black women.

“We’re doing a significant amount of partnering with our local health systems to make systemic impact on Black maternal and child health, to address the
Black infant mortality issue and maternal health,” Peyton-Caire emphasized. “Over the last year, we really made big steps with the Dane County Health Council
in shaping cross-sector partnering around solving those big challenges that have been looming around our local birth outcomes. And we also have been very
fortunate to be positioned to impact state-level policy this year through my service on Governor Tony Evers’ transition team for the Health Policy Advisory
Council. We had direct influence on shaping the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies policies and the Medicaid expansion, which we are still working on to get
passed by the legislature. We’ve really made big steps in asserting our presence and our voice and our influence and continuously impacting systemic
reforms around health so that the ecosystem that Black women and families are operating in every day within our community are responsive to our needs.”

The 11th annual Black Women’s Wellness Day looks to be bigger and better than those that have come before it. It will be held Saturday, September 21st at the
Alliant Energy Center with doors opening at 9 a.m. The day opens with the Health and Wellness Fair, which is a time to network and find excellent information
and products that contribute to the wellness of the whole Black woman. Instead of being held in the vestibule in front of the room where the annual luncheon is
being held, it has grown to deserve a room of its own.

“We’re going to have almost double the number of exhibitors and vendors,” Peyton-Caire exclaimed. So we are expanding to have the wellness fair portion of
the event in Hall A. It’s going to provide more space for our exhibitors to spread out. And it is going to have all of the exciting features that people look forward
to every year. It’s like a marketplace. And we also have a wellness tent that women can get free massages and body work done. We’ll have a fitness stage
where there will be live fitness demonstrations with Tina Atkinson, who is a local fitness diva and has led yoga and other classes for us. We also have
Shannon All Around from Milwaukee who is back by popular demand. She will also be a part of our fitness stage and participating in one of our workshops on
holistic wellness and changing your life style as a well Black woman. We will have a special breast feeding tent there provided by Madison-Dane County
Public Health. And the Dream Bank is partnering with us to offer interactive displays that will help women envision what it means to them to be a well Black
woman along with nearly 80 vendors who are offering all types of wellness products and other life style products that our guests can touch, feel and buy along
with a massive number of community partners who will be sharing resources and information about health services, mental health services, and housing
resources. Women can get high blood pressure and diabetes screenings that we offer every year through Dr. Eva Vivian from the UW-Madison School of
Pharmacy. Those are lifesaving services. It is often times that women come to our event and learn through those screenings that they have a concern that
they need to follow up with a physician immediately on and we are able to help them make those follow-ups. The same is true with our interactive displays that
the UW-Madison Carbone Cancer Center has each year that shows women how to do a breast self-exam and how to detect lumps. Often times, they are able to
sign up at the event for services or referrals to get connected to those health resources. Health follow-ups are very vital as a preventative measure. There is
a lot going on in that wellness fair.”

Next up is the luncheon that is very filling for the mind, body and soul.

“The lunch this year is going to be so vibrant and so exciting,” Peyton-Caire said. “We are excited by our keynote speaker, Natasha Mayne from the Miami,
Florida area. She is a life coach speaker and a top-notch attorney who I met online on Facebook and Instagram. She simply embodies our theme, ‘The Rose of
the Well Black Woman.’ I followed her for a while and her motivational messages. That is her approach to life. And I just connected with her in real life. She
epitomizes everything that I envision when I think of a well Black woman who is physically, mentally, spiritually and financially thriving in their daily lives.
She is going to come here to deliver a powerful, uplifting message that we know will leave women feeling on fire to leave this event and put into motion all of
the things that serve their highest good and be their most well and healthy self. We’re excited about that. We’re also going to announce, as we do every year,
three honorees for our Legacy Awards, people who continue to make a significant impact and contributions to improving the health and well-being of Black
women and families in Dane County. We’re also going to announce the winner of our Wealthy Women Empowerment Series that we partnered with Summit
Credit Union on.”

After the luncheon, the day dives right into some excellent workshops.

“We have four afternoon workshops for adult women,” Peyton-Caire said. “They can choose two. You choose one during the first session and then another for
the second. You can go to our website, www.blackwomenswellnessday.org and click on the agenda. We will also host again our special wellness session for
teen girls, ages 13 and up. That will be hosted by Dr. Jasmine Zapata with special guests. Several of our speakers will be in that workshop helping to facilitate
a conversation with young women about healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy relationships and financial wellness and envisioning and creating the healthy,
well lives that they desire.”

And then the day ends with group activities that will propel the attendees into a year committed to health and wellness.

“Our closing session will have a very creative component led by our wellness ambassador team that requires people to get up, to get active and to release
their inhibitions and to get moving as we close out the year in a very energetic and lively way together before we head into our evening reception sponsored
by Access Community Health Center,” Peyton-Caire said.

Don’t miss the 11th Annual Black Women’s Wellness Day September 21st. It could lead to a new you and an extended lifetime of wellness and fun.
By Jonathan Gramling

In May 2006, Lisa Peyton-Caire’s mother died at the age of 64. The health disparities
that Black women experience hit home in a very personal way. Three years later,
Peyton-Caire personally declared May 22nd as Black Women’s Wellness Day and
hosted the first event in 2009 with 40 friends and colleagues. That day, they decided
to hold another one.

“I always knew that it would grow,” Peyton-Caire said. “I knew that from the
beginning. I didn’t know the how or any of the other details, but I knew that Black
Women’s Wellness Day was going to grow. I knew it was going to resonate with
other women. And where we are now was a part of the vision.”

And that vision has grown beyond the borders of Dane County.