Leaders are defined by their actions while advocates are construing by their work. Judith Mills have the characteristics of both. She has the strength, Inspiration and indestructibility of a leader and the courage, hope and resilient of an advocate. Born in Ghana, West Africa, she came to the United States at age 10. As a youth she was full of life and took advantage of any opportunity that came her way. In school she was a track & field runner, a dancer and even a state finalist in the Miss Teen New Jersey 1999 pageant. You can say she is a “Jill-of-all-trade”. She had a promising future with no limits. Her reach in life was as far as her imagination can reach, but we all know that there are obstacles in life that one most overcome. In 1999, Judith Mills was faced with a life changing obstacle. Doctors diagnose her with Lupus (SLE). Lupus is a disease in which the body’s immune system become hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissues. Living with Lupus became the obstacle that she had to overcome. The effects of living with this illness are severe joint pains, fatigue and other painful symptoms. Although the disease does not have a cure, it can be treated with medication. The cause of Lupus is unknown, but statistics shows that it effect more women of African descent than any other demographic. Despite the interruption of the disease, Judith showed signs of a leader and advocate: Resilient and Strength. Determined to live her life to the fullest, she decided to become a voice in the fight against Lupus.
In her ordeal she managed to graduate top 10 of her high school senior class a recipient of 2 Scholarships Comcast Leaders of Tomorrow and East Orange Fire fighter’s Benevolent Award by the former Mayor of East Orange Robert Bowser. After high school, she went on to earn her Bachelors in Biology at Montclair State University. In 2003, she organized a team of walkers naming them Team MSU at Montclair State University, for a walk in efforts to educate the public about lupus with the Lupus Foundation for America (NJ) chapter which she gained recognition in the Herald News and The Record for her fight against Lupus. Her vision was not only to help fight Lupus in America but also overseas. She furthered her education to become a Biomedical Scientist concentrating in Pharmacology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey program; Mills is an Adjunct Professor of Biology & College Success Seminar, A patient Advocate and a Speaker. Mills has been recognized as a key volunteer for Lupus Research Alliance as a committee member, multi-cultural task force and Speaker. The Lupus Foundation of America (New Jersey Chapter) featured her in the Herald news and the Record. Mills has been featured online platforms such as, Blackman Can, Rizzar, Scoop it, and others. Mills is the receipt of 2012 Black Street “Black Celebration” Award winner for Non-Profit. K-hitz & affiliates for recognizing me for my selfless dedication & contributions to the betterment of Ghanaians & immigrants in the USA award. Uptown honors nomination and 2017 3rd Annual AEAUSA winner of Best Community Award of the Year.
Mills created Butterfly Walkers, Inc., as comprehensive 501c3 nonprofit team that has been dedicated to raising funds for lupus awareness in 2011. In 2012, it became a concern of Judith to help others in Ghana suffering from lupus during her visit. Mills was heartbroken by growing number of Ghanaians suffering from lupus and made it her mission to bring awareness. Mills took matters into her own hands and set up a NGO Alliance of Hope for Lupus (AHL). AHL is an organization which helps raise lupus awareness and patient advocacy in Ghana. When she was ask what were her reasons for raising awareness in Ghana? She said “In America, I am privileged to be able to afford treatment even though we have come a long way to go for a cure. Those treatments and patient education were not available in Ghana so I wanted to change that’”. Lupus in Ghana and around Africa is not looked at as a disease, but instead it is considered as witchcraft. Lupus is an urgent health matter in Ghana and all over Africa. She visited several hospitals such as: Korle Bu, Police Hospital, SNITT and 37 Military Hospital. She met with the doctors and administration which gave her a chance to address her concerns about lupus and how it is being treated. With help of media, she able to educate the public about lupus through with a marathon, TV and radio stations (TV3, Joy News, Multi-TV, GTV, Obonu 96.5 FM, etc.) to raise lupus awareness. As a voice for lupus, she wanted to pass on her knowledge of the disease to as many people as she can, especially in places like Africa where little is known about Lupus. Mills hopes lupus awareness can save lives in countries where there is a high death rate of lupus due to lack of knowledge on how to diagnose or treat the illness.
In 2017 Mills took a bold step, calling for a meeting with the US Ambassador to Ghana Robert P. Jackson and USAID to ask for aid for the Lupus patients in Ghana pleading with him. Mills asked for Professor Edmund Delle a dermatologist and Dr. Dzifa Dey a Rheumatologist to voice their concerns and challenges of treating lupus patients. Ghana hasn’t recognized the growing number of lupus diagnoses. The Ghana Health insurance Scheme doesn’t have lupus on the list of illnesses that affect Ghanaians so it doesn’t cover their medications or doctor visits.