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

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—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. 

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