Biographies

Khafre K. Abif is the editor of Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems & Affirmations for People Living with HIV/AIDS. He is also the Founder/Executive Director of Cycle for Freedom, Inc. a national HIV mobilization campaign founded in 2010.  Its mission is to reduce the spread of HIV among African Americans and Latino’s by confronting the three critical issues that fuel the HIV pandemic: the HIV-related stigma, homophobia, and lack of education. To fulfill our mission, Khafre will cycle 2028 miles of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route to develop strategies designed to increase HIV testing and reduce HIV-related stigma. During the 75 day campaign, Cycle for Freedom will work in fourteen (14) cities along the Route. You can follow Khafre’s blog on TheBody.com http://www.thebody.com/content/art60852.html.

Moises Agosto is the Director of Treatment Education, Adherence, and Mobilization, National Minority AIDS Council in Washington, DC. He is a longtime advocate and educator in the field of HIV/AIDS.  Prior to his role at NMAC, Agosto was a program manager for the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, a program of the Tides Center, where he was responsible for program and grant-making activities in the Caribbean region, Latin America and East Africa.  Before working for ITPC, he was vice president and managing director of Community Access, a company of the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, served as editor of SIDAhora magazine, a publication of the People with AIDS Coalition, and was an active member of ACT UP New York.  Additionally, Agosto has served on numerous government, industry and community advisory boards.

Maria E. Alvarez is the Lead Public Health Advisor and currently serves as the Team Leader for the Partnerships Team in the Capacity Building Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ms. Alvarez holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Seton Hall University, and has over 20 years of experience in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and substance abuse treatment. Ms. Alvarez’s vast experience with HIV prevention, national training and technical assistance activities includes work in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ms. Alvarez is also considered by her peers as an authority on the implementation of effective street/community outreach programs, risk reduction/prevention strategies, and the development of innovative HIV rapid testing programs in non-clinical settings.

Barbara Aranda-Naranjo has been a Public Health Nurse working with underserved, resilient populations for 33 years.  She received her Ph.D. in Community Health Nursing with distinction from the University of Texas in Austin in May 1997. She has held significant public health community leadership positions at the local, state and federal level in addition to two Endowed Chair positions in academia at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas and Georgetown University in Washington DC.  She is recognized as a leader in Nursing and Public health for her tireless efforts in improving the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, Africa and India. Currently she is the Director of the Division of Training and Capacity Development where she oversees the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) PEPFAR Global program, Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) and the AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) in the HIV/AIDS bureau (HAB).

Ron Armstead is the Executive Director for the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust (CBCVB), a consultant to former Secretary Jesse Brown’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, and past Chairman of the National Association of Black Social Workers, Veteran Affairs Committee. Ron has been Executive Director of the CBCVB since its inception in 1988. Under Congressional leadership and his direct efforts the Veteran Braintrust has expanded from its small core group to become the premiere forum for policy debate between veteran and representatives of government in the country.  Further, Ron has successfully completed the Harvard University Visiting Administrative Fellowship Program, at the School of Public Health under the leadership of Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, a nationally known violence prevention advocate, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Legislative Fellowship Program in 1995.

LaTisha Basil is a native Washingtonian. She is currently attending University of Maryland University College to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.  Also, a full time mother, she states, “My community is very important to me and that is why I want to be pro-active in assisting others in any way I can.  HIV and AIDS is one of the highest epidemics in DC with new cases every day.  My involvement in this conference is in hopes that my words can uplift people who are living with this disease and create more self-awareness.  Through education and prevention, this disease can and must be cured.”

Beverly Becton is a true leader in advocacy for women living with HIV. Beverly has devoted herself tirelessly over the past decade to helping to ensure policy-makers, service providers and thought leaders understand the needs of women living with HIV and provide services and funding to meet those needs. Beverly helps women living with HIV to get education and information to make smart decisions about their health, dating and overall lives. Beverly partnered with the ATHENA network to play a key role in building partnerships with local young women living with HIV to young women living with HIV in the Global South at the 2012 International AIDS Conference. Also she has lectured at many conferences throughout the northeast region.

Lisa Fager Bediako oversees the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s national Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative. She is responsible for integrating HIV/AIDS education and prevention into the Foundation’s current work in order to increase HIV testing, knowledge, awareness and action among Black Americans.  Since 2009, she has helped the Foundation organize 26 AAALI events and trainings across the United States in CBC member districts with more than 6,500 attendees; identified and collaborated with over 40 local, state and national organizations; coordinated programs that tested more than 1,200 people; and generated more than 5.2 million media impressions.  She is an expert in social marketing and consults independently on public health and civic issues with a broad range of clients.  She serves as a member of the National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network. Lisa received her MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

Rev Canon Gideon B Byamugisha is an Anglican Reverend Canon Priest in Uganda.  In 1992, he became the first religious leader in Africa to publicly announce that he was HIV positive.  A teacher by profession, Byamugisha worked with his friends and his faith community leaders to start the Friends of Canon Gideon Foundation (FOCAGIFO) – a self-help small organization that  helped him to initiate the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Personally Affected HIV and AIDS (ANERELA+), the Hope Institute for Transformational Leadership & Development – educating and training  orphans and other vulnerable youths to help them break the HIV risk and poverty vulnerability cycle, and The Global Working Group on Faith,  SSDDIM & HIV.  This is one of the largest interfaith forums that convenes every thirty six months to evaluate progress made on (a) reducing stigma, shame, denial, discrimination, inaction and mis-action (SSDDIM) and (b) multiplying safe practices; access to treatment & nutrition; voluntary, routine & stigma sensitive counseling and testing & empowerment of the most –at-risk  children, youth, men, women , families and  communities (SAVE).  Currently, Byamugisha is a Brown Foundation fellow and Visiting Professor at the University of the South, in Sewanee, TN.

Joseph Elias is the Assistant Director of Treatment Education, Adherence and Mobilization (TEAM) at the National Minority AIDS Council. He has been working in public health and the HIV sector for over 10 years across the globe. During that time he has focused on program development and research for vulnerable populations. Joseph was most recently the coordinator of the community and civil society program of the International AIDS Conference held in Washington, DC in 2012, as well as a public health program manager in the Middle East, Pacific Islands, and West Africa. He was able to combine his skills of capacity building for community based organizations with his knowledge of working with people from diverse parts of the world.

Cierra Foxx is a young leader and she is dedicated to education, engagement and empowerment of young people. Cierra provides innovative and interactive presentations at schools and youth programs throughout the DC metro area focused on HIV prevention, health literacy and informed decision-making. Cierra has served as mentor and peer leader through the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative lead by the ATHENA network and the Global Coalition for Women and AIDS.  Cierra currently lives her passion for advocacy and education through her role at the Jacques Initiative in Baltimore, Maryland.

Bambi Gaddist received a B.S. from Tuskegee University in the area of Physical Education and Health, a M.S. in Physical Health and Administration from Indiana University, and completed doctoral studies in the areas of Human Sexuality and Family Life Education at the University of South Carolina.  She maintains a passion for education, particularly among adolescents and young adults, and seeks to address their sexuality issues, as well as create strategies that reduce the negative consequences of early or irresponsible sexual involvement.  She currently serves as Executive Director of the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council, a 501 (c) 3, nonprofit organization located in Columbia, South Carolina.  She is a published author and consults with a host of national and local organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Association of Health Education, National Association of STD Directors, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to name a few.

Joxel Garcia is a physician and a former four-star admiral in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He served as the 13th Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from March 13, 2008 to January 20, 2009. From 2003 to 2006, Dr. García served as Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/Regional Office Western Hemisphere for the World Health Organization.  As Deputy Director, Dr. García was responsible for setting the general direction and strategy of the organization and for providing leadership and advice on all policy decisions. Dr. Garcia was nominated for appointment by President George W. Bush for the position of Assistant Secretary for Health with the rank of admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in late 2007.  In his position, García’s responsibilities included disease prevention, health promotion, public health preparedness, women’s and minority health, reduction of health disparities, fight against HIV/AIDS, pandemic influenza planning, and vaccine preventable diseases.

Alex Garner is currently the Program Coordinator in the Treatment Education Adherence Mobilization (TEAM) division at the National Minority AIDS Council.  Alex was recently the founding editor at PositiveFrontiers.com.  PositiveFrontiers.com is a national HIV magazine for gay men that explores issues of lifestyle, culture, and wellness.  Prior to PositiveFrontiers.com Alex was an actor, writer, and advocate.  He co-wrote and performed in The Infection Monologues, a funny and thought-provoking play about the modern HIV experience.  Alex has nearly 20 years’ experience of working in HIV and community organizing, particularly among minority communities. He’s been living with HIV for over 17 years and got his start as a queer, HIV-positive youth organizer.  Alex currently serves on the National Steering Committee for the United States People Living with HIV Stigma Index.

Jeanne White Ginder is the mother of the late Ryan White, the teenager from Kokomo, Indiana, who was expelled from his Indiana middle school because he was HIV-positive in the mid-1980s.  She stood up and stayed by her son through a lengthy legal battle with the school system. The media coverage of the case made Ryan White a national celebrity, battling stigma along the way.  She founded the national nonprofit Ryan White Foundation, which later merged with AIDS Action.  In August of 1990, Jeanne stepped onto the lecture circuit realizing that this was another avenue for educating young people about HIV/AIDS.  She became a spokeswoman for AIDS research and public education, by relaying personal triumphs and tragedies of life with Ryan.  Today, she speaks all across the country about her story as a mom and seeks to educate teens and adolescents on the personal, family, and community issues related to HIV/AIDS.  Her words continue to touch the hearts of many.

Justin Goforth currently serves as the Director of Community Relations for Whitman-Walker Health. Justin has been with Whitman-Walker in several roles since June, 2006.  As Director of the Medical Adherence Unit, Justin oversaw Whitman-Walker’s nurse case management program, nutrition program, treatment adherence programs, social services and referrals to health providers outside Whitman-Walker.  Justin also served as Director of the Gay Men’s Health and Wellness Clinic, the longest running program at Whitman-Walker which provides safer sex/sexual health counseling, STD testing and treatment and HIV testing to thousands of community members each year.  He also served as Director of Community Health which provides health education, outreach, HIV testing and counseling and preventive health services to thousands of the District’s most vulnerable and at-risk residents each year.  Justin is a Registered Nurse with over 20 years of experience working in HIV prevention and treatment.  Justin dedicates his life to reducing the stigma of HIV by living openly as an HIV-positive gay man.

J. Nadine Gracia is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The Office of Minority Health is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.  Under Dr. Gracia’s leadership, the Office of Minority Health oversees the implementation of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities.  A pediatrician with epidemiology training, Dr. Gracia previously served as Chief Medical Officer for the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. There, she provided policy and programmatic leadership for a portfolio that included child and adolescent health, climate change, disaster preparedness, environmental health, global health, Haiti recovery, and the White House Council on Women and Girls. She led the development of the HHS 2012 Environmental Justice Strategy.  As a first-generation Haitian-American, Dr. Gracia is an advocate for minority and underserved populations and lectures nationwide on health disparities and health equity.  She has been named one of The Grio’s 100 History Makers in the Making and one of Washington’s Powerful Women by BET.  Dr. Gracia is a National President Emeritus of the Student National Medical Association and a past Postgraduate Physician Trustee of the National Medical Association.

Alan E. Greenberg is Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.  Dr. Greenberg received his MD from the GW School of Medicine in 1982 and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1999.  He served for two decades as a USPHS Commissioned Corps Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he provided scientific leadership for domestic and international HIV/AIDS epidemiologic research at CDC.  Currently, Dr. Greenberg is the Director of the NIH-funded District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research; Principal Investigator of the DC Cohort; Principal Investigator of Public Health- Academic Partnerships with the DC Department of Health and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Co-Investigator of the DC site of the CDC-funded National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system; Clinical Research Site Leader for the DC site of the NIH-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network; a voluntary HIV/AIDS physician at the DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Chair of the Global Work Group of the Advisory Committee to the Director, CDC; and a member of the NIH IRAP Study Section. He is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of epidemiology and HIV.

Asma Hanif has been a practicing Muslim for over 25 years.  She graduated from Howard University, and the Medical University of South Carolina.  She is a Certified Nurse Midwife and a Wholistic Health Practitioner.  She teaches workshops on “How to Prevent Breast Cancer through Diet and Self-Breast Exams”. She has authored a rape prevention pamphlet entitled, “What A Woman Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Her”. As a result of her organizational work as a Nurse Practitioner, Asma discovered a large number of Muslim women experiencing homelessness and violence in their lives.  In responding to the stigmas associated with violence and rape within the community, in 2007 Sister Asma opened a H.O.M.E. center to shelter homeless Muslim women & children & Muslim women victims of Domestic Violence to assist them as they struggle to achieve their self-esteem, their self-worth and their self-sufficiency.  She has established a Domestic Violence Ministry and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Islamic Chaplaincy to better provide counseling and spiritual uplift to those who cross her path seeking faith based revitalization and a safe haven from the stigmas imposed by society.

Catherine Hanssens is the Executive Director and founder of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, a national legal and policy resource and strategy center for HIV advocates.  Hanssens has worked in the field of HIV law and policy since 1984, previously as AIDS Project Director at Lambda Legal, where she led Lambda’s national HIV litigation and policy work; an attorney with the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, where she created a multi-site legal assistance project for patients in HIV health clinics; and at the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate, where she successfully litigated cases on involuntary HIV testing, state-wide segregation and mistreatment of prisoners with HIV, and the right of incarcerated women to prenatal care and funded elective abortions.  She has been a visiting clinical professor and Director of the Women and AIDS Clinic at Rutgers University Law School-Newark.  She is a frequent commentator on HIV and sexual health-related legal and policy issues, and a regular advisor to local, national and international policy makers and organizations on these issues.

Regan Hoffman is an award-winning journalist, media expert and a published author who was formerly the editor-in-chief of POZ and poz.com.  She is an internationally recognized authority on HIV/AIDS and a consultant focused on strategy and communications designed to bring positive change for global health. Regan is an expert in traditional and social media. She has appeared herself in the media many times and can help develop strategic media plans for internal and external communications as well as offer media training and access to the press.  She is adept at strengthening brands through fresh positioning and builds loyal audiences through engaging editorial and well-wielded social media.  She is a charismatic speaker who has delivered addresses at universities, international conferences, Congress and The White House.

Rebekah Israel graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with degrees in Sociology and Political Science in 2011. In May 2013, Rebekah received a master’s in Sociology at American University in Washington, DC.  While at AU, she worked on two research grants that addressed the social determinants of HIV risk.  The first dealt with HIV risk of re-entrants of the criminal justice system.  And the second focused on Black and African-born women and their perceptions of HIV and HIV testing.  These appointments piqued her interest alleviating the disparities in HIV that led her to the Black AIDS Institute.  As the Training and Evaluation Coordinator at the Institute, Ms. Israel works on the local Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN) which strengthens local Black leadership and raises HIV science literacy in Black communities nationwide.  She is also the lead evaluator for the Institute’s programming.

Aparna Jain has a PhD in Demography from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.  She has over 15 years of experience in international and domestic public health with expertise in designing and implementing research and evaluation studies in HIV and AIDS, family planning, and reproductive health. Aparna is currently a Senior Health Research Scientist on the Health Policy Project at the Futures Group.

Ebony Johnson has been involved in HIV research and care for over a decade.  She is a member of the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network CAB, Connect 2 Protect, Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group Community Constituency Group, International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group ICAB and the Women’s Interagency Health Study.  Most recently, Ebony became a member of the District of Columbia Development Center for AIDS.  She has championed HIV research, with specific focus on inclusion of women, young people and persons living with HIV.  She delivered presentations at the International AIDS Conferences in Mexico and Vienna, the United States Conference on HIV/AIDS, the CDC Prevention Leadership Conference, VOICES conference and a myriad of other forums

Vanessa Johnson is Principal of Just Cause Consulting.  She serves as the Board Chair for the National Women and AIDS Collective and as a member of the United States People Living with AIDS caucus. She has 28 years of experience in health and consumer related issues with 14 of those years spent designing innovative and effective HIV prevention and leadership development initiatives.  Prior to launching her own business, Ms. Johnson served as Executive Vice President of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).  She is a graduate of Temple University Law School.

Mark S. King is an award winning columnist, author, blogger and AIDS advocate who has been involved in gay causes since testing HIV positive in 1985, when the HIV antibody test first became publicly available. After graduating from the University of Houston, King pursued an acting career in Los Angeles and appeared in dozens of television commercials. It is this period of time that King brings back to life in his memoir, A Place Like This.  King began working for community AIDS agencies in 1984 as a volunteer, and joined the staff of the Los Angeles Shanti Foundation in 1988, becoming their first Director of Public Relations.  In 1993 he moved to Atlanta to serve as executive director of AIDS Survival Project, and later as Director of Education and Communications for AIDS Atlanta, the Southeast’s largest AIDS service agency.  King has appeared as a spokesperson on ABC News, 48 Hours, CNN News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.  Mark’s video blog, “My Fabulous Disease,” originated at TheBody.com, and has loyal viewers from around the world.  In November of 2012, Instinct Magazine named Mark one of their “Leading Men of 2012″ for his HIV/AIDS advocacy and writing.  Mark graced the cover of the June 2013 issue of POZ Magazine, which included his essay, “The Sound of Stigma.” Today, Mark lives in Atlanta.  He continues his writing and video blogs, and awakens with gratitude (almost) every morning.

William B. Lawson is currently Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Howard University College of Medicine and Hospital.  He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Chair of the Committee of Tellers for the American Psychiatric Association, treasurer of the American Orthopsychiatry Association, and a member of the American College of Psychiatrists.  Dr. Lawson is a past Chair of the Section of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the National Medical Association, a past president of the Black Psychiatrists of America.  He is certified by the Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in General Psychiatry and has Added Qualifications in Addictions. He has been chair of the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences since 2000.

Michael Mancilla is a staff member at Children’s National Medical Center and supervises “HIV Services Social Work Team” and specializes in working with individuals, couples, and families affected by HIV/AIDS.  He is a recognized presenter at national and international conferences and is the co-author of Love In The Time of HIV: The Gay Man’s Guide to Sex , Dating and Relationships.

Darius Mans is the President of Africare, a leader in development assistance to Africa.  Dr. Mans came to Africare in 2010 with more than 30 years of development experience.  Prior to joining Africare, Dr. Mans fulfilled a number of roles at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), including acting chief executive officer, vice president of implementation and managing director for Africa.  In these positions, Dr. Mans was responsible for several diverse program portfolios in MCC compact countries.  Dr. Mans also has experience managing 45 country programs around the world as director of the World Bank Institute.  In the earlier years of his career, Dr. Mans served as an economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, taught economics at the University of Maryland and served as a consultant to KPMG on infrastructure projects in Latin America.  Dr. Mans holds a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where he was born.

Rafael Mazin is the Senior Advisor on HIV/STI Prevention at Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO).  He directs PAHO strategy for prevention and care efforts at the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in the Americas.  He has coordinated the efforts to strengthen the capacity of the health sector in Latin America and the Caribbean.  He has contributed to the production of a reference document on promotion of sexual health, a seminal publication on “Sexual Health in the New Millennium”.

Roger McLean presently holds the post of Research Fellow attached to the HEU, Centre for Health Economics in the Faculty of Social Sciences.  Mr. McLean is also a Lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad, where he lectures in Introduction to Mathematics and Statistics, Topics in Economic Development and Social Economics in the undergraduate program.  He also assists with the delivery of the post graduate course in Health Economics.  Mr. McLean has been conducting research and working in the area of development economics in general and health Economics specifically for over fifteen years.  Among the areas covered in his research are the economics around health sector reform, and sexual and reproductive health issues focusing on such conditions as cervical cancer and HIV-AIDS throughout the Caribbean region.  He is one of the founding members of the University of the West Indies HIV-AIDS Response Program (UWIHARP).

Terrance Moore is the Director of Policy and Health Equity at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).  His primary responsibilities include directing the organization’s policy and advocacy activities and health equity initiatives including interfacing with the Congress, the Administration and providing technical assistance to NASTAD members around addressing the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis among Blacks, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Native American communities.  Prior to coming to NASTAD, Mr. Moore worked for the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.  Mr. Moore also served as a legislative aide for Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). Mr. Moore is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC and is a native of Chicago, Illinois.

Nancy Murphy recently joined the Howard University Graduate Nursing Faculty.  She is from NYC and moved to DC this year after completing her PhD.  She has practiced in the field of HIV for over 25 years, the last 12 years as an HIV primary care provider.  Her doctorate dissertation was an action research, implementation study that focused on developing and implementing an interdisciplinary buprenorphine treatment/practice within HIV primary care.  She looks forward to seeing the Affordable Care Act expand health insurance coverage and further the efforts of integrating both substance use and mental health treatment with primary care.

Marguerite E. Neita is the Interim Dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences Howard University.  She began her career as a laboratory scientist at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica.  She subsequently earned certification in Medical Laboratory Science and the Diploma in Medical Microbiology from the Institute of Medical Laboratory Science (IMLS), London, England.  She gained extensive professional experience at the University Hospital of the West Indies, The Public Health Laboratory, Kingston, Jamaica, and the St. Georges Hospital Medical Group, London, England. Marguerite Neita earned her BS (medical Technology), MS (Microbiology) and PhD (Nutritional Sciences) at Howard University.  She joined the faculty of Howard University in 1982 and was appointed Chairman and Program Director of the Department in 2004.

Ryan Ubuntu Olson is a program advisor at the Health Policy Project with emphasis on key populations. Olson has 10+ years’ experience working with stigmatized communities, particularly gender and sexual minorities.  Olson currently also serves as an international campaigns officer for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, held annually on May 17th in over 120 countries.  Olson was recently named to the board of an organization called “None on Record” which collects the oral histories of LGBTI African’s, including the diaspora.  In addition, he is a mentor for the Clinton Global Initiative University.  Olson previously worked at the United Nations for a non-profit addressing SOGI Human Rights as well as spent time living in Kenya developing Human Rights Trainings for LGBTI populations.  Olson is a graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service where he received advanced training in public service.

Sohail Rana is Professor of Pediatrics at Howard University and Conference Director for this event. He received his medical education at King Edwards Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan and trained at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital and the University of Rochester, NY and is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology.  The Pediatric Hematology research team that includes Patty Houston, Caroline Reed, Chandni Parikh, Joanne Adelberg, Rebecca Vargas-Jackson, Cynthia Gipson, Saher Iqbal, Javed Khan, Porscha Hall, Sophia Patel, and Farshid Jahanparast has been providing care to children and young adults with HIV for more than 28 years in the DC metropolitan area. The Pediatric Hematology research team has also been running the Pediatric and Perinatal AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at Howard since 1992.  The unit has conducted more than 60 clinical trials sponsored by the NIH for treatment of HIV-infected children and adults and prevention of transmission of HIV from mother to child.  Dr. Rana has the goal to establish a Center for Human Rights in Health at Howard.

Juan Carlos Riascos is an economist and has been an HIV/AIDS advocate and Health Educator for 18 years. He is the author of the book “En el Laberinto de la Esperanza” (The Labyrinth of Hope), a memoir chronicling the loss of his wife to AIDS and the challenges of being HIV+ himself while raising a daughter born with the disease.  Juan Carlos worked as Coordinator of Clinical Education Initiatives at the University of Miami, Division of Infectious Diseases and at present he is working as Community Advocacy Manager for the Virology Division at AbbVie.  He is a member of the Leadership Committee of the National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN).  He lives with his wife and daughter in Miami.

Rashida Richardson is a Staff Attorney at the Center for the HIV Law and Policy and the State Advocacy Working Group Chair of the Positive Justice Project.  She earned a B.A. with Honors from Wesleyan University in the College of Social Studies and her Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law. During law school, Rashida served as an intern for the Honorable Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California; Cowan, DeBeats, Abraham & Sheppard; Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center; and Dyax Corp.  Rashida was also selected as a research assistant for Professor Margaret Burnham in Northeastern University’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, where she participated in a landmark Civil Rights action against a county in Mississippi for a kidnapping and murder that took place in 1964.  This suit was the first of its kind.  Before joining CHLP, Rashida worked at Facebook Inc. and HIP Investor in San Francisco.

Chris Richey is the CEO & Founder of The Stigma Project, an HIV organization that works to eliminate the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS through awareness, art, provocation, and education.  The organization’s principle focus on branding, integrative and interactive marketing and advertising strategies, have been recognized as a force in news media.  An east Texas native, Chris moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to pursue a career in political & nonprofit fundraising.  He began work as a staff assistant at the firm of Capital Campaigns, led by Anne Hyde Dunsmore.  After just six months, Chris was promoted as the firm’s Account Executive, working directly with clients on the strategic planning and execution of fundraising plans that ranged from mayoral to congressional candidates.  His nonprofit work included development and assistance in the advancement of a $100 million capital campaign.  Shortly after leaving Capital Campaigns, Chris was diagnosed with HIV. The stigma and discrimination he experienced firsthand, coupled with his experience working in the nonprofit sector, led the way to founding The Stigma Project in February 2012.  In 2013, TSP was invited to the White House to take part in a panel discussion that followed President Obama’s signing of the executive order implementing the HIV Care Continuum Initiative.

Valerie Rochester is a longtime public health professional, with more than 25 years of experience providing programmatic, administrative, management and capacity building training and technical assistance services.  As Director of Programs and Training with the Black Women’s Health Imperative, she manages the organization’s national and community-level health and wellness initiatives to address the unequal health burdens borne by Black women.  She guides the organization’s response to address the priority health issues of sexual health and reproductive justice, HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer, maternal health, obesity, and diabetes. She has served on multiple consultation panels for federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Health Resources and Services Administration and HHS Office on Women’s Health, to develop culturally and gender-responsive health education, prevention, treatment, and capacity building initiatives to address health inequities in communities of color.  She has also served on the board of directors of numerous national and community based organizations, including her current tenure as board member and Finance Chair of the National Minority AIDS Council.

Daphnie Rogers was born and raised in Washington, DC.  She began her career in the HIV field as a volunteer at the Whitman Walker Max Robinson Center.  As time went on Daphnie became a Community Health Educator.  She began working with Positive Pathways which is a collaborative program in the District of Columbia to assist HIV-positive African-American Women living in Wards 5-8 with their participation in HIV medical care at Max Robinson Center.  Living as an HIV-positive woman, Daphnie worked hard to increase her education and create new opportunities for herself.  She completed school for Medical Billing and Coding as well as courses at UDC.  Today, Daphnie is a Medical Case Manager, working for the Women’s Collective.  One of her prime roles is facilitating “The Coffee House.”  Through The Coffee House, Daphnie helps women along their journeys to empowerment, self-esteem, self-love and HIV wellness.  Daphnie has also helped start a group called the Divine Divas whose members reach out and encourage other women living with HIV.

Laurel Sprague is the Regional Coordinator for the Global Network of People Living with HIV, North America (GNP+NA), whose purpose is to bring together the voices of people living with HIV to respond to HIV-related stigma and discrimination, protect human rights, end criminalization based on HIV-status, and ensure equitable access to treatment and care for people living with HIV throughout North America.  Laurel has worked in the field of HIV since her own positive diagnosis in 1991 in the areas of prevention, community planning, advocacy, education, and research.  Since 2009, she has focused on addressing HIV-related stigma, providing technical assistance for the PLHIV Stigma Index to networks of people living with HIV in North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.  Laurel teaches Political Theory at Eastern Michigan University and is a PhD candidate at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  Her research focuses on global civil society, democratic processes, and the resilience and resistance of marginalized peoples, particularly when faced with stigma and discrimination, criminalization, and human rights abuses.

Robert Suttle is Assistant Director of The Sero Project, a network of people living with HIV and allies fighting for freedom from stigma and injustice.  Upon his release from prison in January 2011, Robert has become engaged in anti-criminalization advocacy work.  He was convicted under Louisiana’s HIV-specific criminal statute after accepting a plea bargain and served six months in a Louisiana prison for HIV non-disclosure to a former partner, with whom he had a contentious relationship.  Robert is featured in the short film HIV is Not a Crime, has traveled abroad sharing his story, currently serves on the board of the North American regional affiliate of the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+NA), and remains active with the Positive Justice Project and HIV Justice Network.  Prior to joining Sero Project, Robert worked with young African American MSM as a case manager and prevention specialist at the Philadelphia Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Dereje Teferi is an innovative and dedicated key population’s health and human rights advocate and strategist with hands-on experience in stigma and discrimination reduction strategies.  He works on HIV-related human rights advocacy; sexual and gender based violence prevention programs; sampling and key populations size estimation; and other community based HIV prevention programs in Ethiopia.

Chantil Thomas is a native of Washington, D.C.  She is a graduate of Howard University’s Mass Communication and Media Studies Program, where her area of focus was The African American Family and Black Masculinity in the Media.  Chantil is currently the Youth Program Leader at the Women’s Collective, and her expertise includes sexual and reproductive health, HIV, and youth life skills.

Terri Thompson is the Government Relations Officer at Howard University Hospital, where she develops and implements political engagement strategies with federal and local elected officials, regulatory agencies and key policymakers. Previously, she served as director of the Committee on Economic Development for the Council of the District of Columbia. She also has held positions as Chief Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Employment Services and as general counsel to several DC government agencies.  She received her undergraduate degree from Howard University, a masters in administration degree from Central Michigan University, and a law degree from Georgia State University College of Law.

Nelson Varas-Diaz is an Associate Professor at the University of Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Social Work.  He is the Director of the Center for the Study of Social Differences and Health at the same institution.  In this role he provides leadership in the development and implementation of research on the social dimensions of health.  He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of California’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.  His HIV/AIDS related work has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the Fogarty international Center and the Pan-American Health Organization.  He has successfully received funding for R03, R21 and R01 level research from these institutes.  He has published extensively on HIV/AIDS stigma within Caribbean and ethnic minority communities in books and peer-reviewed journals.  He authored a book entitled “Social Difference and Stigma: HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico” and has presented his work throughout Latin America, North America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Rebecca Vargas-Jackson is the Coordinator of the Proposed Center for Human Rights in Health at Howard University.  She has worked as a surgeon, an infectious diseases specialist and as an expert in cultural competency in health care.  She has been affiliated with The George Washington University as a faculty member and involved in cancer and HIV/AIDS research since 1997.  She was Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Research at Whitman Walker Clinic, Co-PI and Director of Training and Education at NMAETC, Senior Executive Vice President at NAPWA, Medical Director at Nova-Salud, and Faculty and Co-PI at GMU.  During her tenure at the National Latino Council for Tobacco and Alcohol Prevention, she led the design of national surveys and programs to improve understanding of cultural issues related to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in the Hispanic/Latino community.

Jessica Xavier has been working in the HIV/AIDS epidemic since 1984, and has been with HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau for the past five years.  As a project officer working with the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program’s Special Projects of National Significance since 2008, she monitors the work of 12 SPNS grantees across five different initiatives.  Prior to her hire by HRSA, she served as Principal Investigator for the bilingual Washington, DC Transgender Needs Assessment Survey, published in 2000 by the DC Department of Health.  From 2003 to 2007 she served as Co-investigator and Field Manager for the Virginia Transgender Health Initiative Study, a first of its kind, statewide multi-level initiative to improve health care access of transgender residents of Virginia, implemented by Virginia Commonwealth University for the Virginia Department of Health.  She earned her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2005.

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