Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project

Conversations with Alison Jaye The Journey to Here
Conversations with Alison Jaye The Journey to Here
Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project

Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project

On January 28, 2017, Dr. Shalon Irving passed away from complications after giving birth to her daughter.

Dr. Shalon was a brilliant scientist with a passion for improving community health. “I see inequity wherever it exists, call it by name, and work to eliminate it,” she wrote. As an epidemiologist at the CDC with two master’s degrees and a dual-subject PhD, she pioneered research about factors like structural inequity that make people sick.

 Dr. Shalon was funny, kind and down-to-earth, with a zeal for traveling and living every day to the fullest. When she found out she was pregnant after years of failed fertility treatments, Shalon named her daughter Soleil, the French word for sun. “No words have been created to adequately capture the fear and love and excitement that I feel right now,” she wrote to her daughter.

Though she had it all—top-notch education, professional success, a strong insurance plan and support network—Dr. Shalon was at high risk for life-threatening issues related to pregnancy and childbirth just for being a black woman. At 36 years old, three weeks after giving birth, she died from complications of high blood pressure.

Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project honors her memory by picking up her torch. She leaves behind a powerful village of loyal friends and family members, including her mother. We are grieved but not in despair.

Shalon is more than a statistic. She is an inspiration, helping to make a bright future for black mothers. The mission of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project is to increase awareness of the Black maternal health crisis, and to develop and promote community-based action-driven strategies that improve reproductive health outcomes and recognize the human-centered value of Black birthing people and families.




CDC Article – Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021

Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth Not education. Not income. Not even being an expert on racial disparities in health care.  

Harvard Public Health Article – America Is Failing Its Black Mothers

Irth app https://irthapp.com/  The only app where you can find prenatal, birthing, postpartum and pediatric reviews of care from other Black and brown women. The #1 “Yelp-like” platform for the pregnancy and new motherhood journey, made by and for people of color. Search doctor and hospital reviews from your community!

 Information from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Reports

Pregnancy-Related Mortality (per 100,000 births) by Race/Ethnicity, 2016-2018

White – 13.7, Black – 41.4

Hispanic – 11.2

Asian & Pacific Islanders – 14.1

American Indian & Alaska Native – 26.5

Maternal Mortality (per 100,000 births) by Race/Ethnicity, 2018-2021

2018 – White – 14.9, Black – 37.3, Hispanic – 11.8

2019 – White – 17.9, Black – 44.0, Hispanic – 12.6

2020 – White – 19.1, Black – 55.3, Hispanic – 18.2

2021 – White – 26.1, Black – 68.9, Hispanic – 27.5

Infant Mortality (per 1,000 live births) by Race/Ethnicity, 2020

White – 4.4

Black – 10.6

Hispanic – 4.7

Asian – 3.1

American Indian & Alaska Native – 7.7, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander – 7.2

Resources for Black mothers:

“The more we have these conversations, the more these conversations can be had” ~ Alison Jaye

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