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Inspiring Conversations with Skyy Banks of HER Inititative

Today we’d like to introduce you to Skyy Banks.

Hi Skyy, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I wear so many hats, from writing to activism to public health. I will say I have always been a lover of words, written and spoken. Let’s start there. When I think back to high school, while in honors English, all of my writing assignments were published. Not published in the literal sense however, published in my class for others to read. Fast forward, I decided to try my hand at writing books. Since 2003, I’ve published four books and am now co-publisher of UrbanEdge Publishing, a traditional, 100% Black woman-owned publishing house. We have something for every author offering self-publishing, traditional and a hybrid approach. Being an author has allowed me to have a platform where I can connect with so many diverse people, which ultimately led to my activism. I’m a staunch advocate for many health issues that impact black women and girls, particularly HIV. This work led me to forming HER (Health, Empowerment, Resilience) Initiative; a nonprofit focused on providing health information and resources for black women and girls. We focus on HIV education and prevention, reproductive justice, mental health and several other health issues which adversely impact our audience. My personal belief is that “everyone deserves access to quality healthcare without regard to income or race.”

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth ride? Do those exist in the business world? In the nonprofit world? With publishing, there are struggles with competition from larger well-known publishing houses as well as platforms that allow authors to self-publish their work. So we continue to be innovative and a tad aggressive in seeking great talent and putting out great work. With nonprofits, we are always seeking funding to continue programs and outreach. Passion and drive keep me going.

As you know, we’re big fans of HER Inititative. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
HER Initiative was founded in 2017 and serves as a conduit of health information for black women and girls. Black women face disparities across almost every chronic illness, from cancer to HIV to heart disease and more. The mission of HER Initiative is to disrupt barriers to allow women and girls of color to thrive. Our work involves digital storytelling as well as in-person workshops. The personal touch of engaging and connecting with women has been transformational for all involved. I’m most proud of the fact that this work has allowed me to change the narrative of how mothers engage with their daughters around sexual health, ultimately fostering open and whole relationships. I want readers to know that we are mobile. We bring the workshops to you.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
As cliché as it may sound, do what you love and everything will fall into place.

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