1. How did you get started working in the HIV/AIDS community?
I have lived in a conservative county (Orange county) most of my life. About ten years ago, all services that were geared towards the LGBTQIA community were hidden in this area, including HIV prevention. However, though I live in Orange County I would socialize in LA County where these services were more visible. Because of my socializing in LA, I found out about support groups. I attended these groups on a weekly basis where we received education; we socialized, and received skills-building workshops. By participating in these groups, it reinforced the idea that this was something I could do and wanted to do to help others.
I first became a volunteer for a few months until I applied in different agencies. My first job was at Altamed Health Services in East Los Angeles. This was an awesome experience. I used to be an HIV testing counselor, PCM manager (now CRCS), I would facilitate groups, and anything that it is done in a non-profit….including moving furniture around.
2. Tell us about your position at Shared Action & Shared Action HD.
I am currently the CBA Coordinator for Information and Technology Transfer. My job is to coordinate any activities related to our websites, educational materials, and webinars to name a few. In addition to the coordinator duties, I also assist in the delivery of our core skills trainings as well a technical assistance.
3. What is your vision for CBA?
The best way I can explain on how I see the Capacity Building Assistance programs, or CBA, is to see it as a bridge. In other words, the role of CBA is to connect the dots between directives, such as NHAS or HIHP, and the actual implementation of HIV prevention programs. CBA programs are services that are meant to facilitate the process of implementing effectively programs and strategies to address HIV prevention needs.
My vision for CBA is that our programs become more visible, accepted, and understood so that any agency or jurisdiction can access them without hesitation and we can continue to assist them in enhancing their programs. By enhancing the implementation of programs around the country, it is my hope that collectively all enhanced programs can continue to make a dent in the # of new infections.
4. Tell us about a particular experience or case you’ve worked on that stood out to you. What made it stand out?
Throughout my work with CBA I’ve encountered the fact that a lot of agencies don’t know what CBA is. Sometimes, these agencies are mandated to request our services…and they do so in order to suffice the directives of their funder. One agency in particular requested our services because their funder had instructed them to request our services to address a finding in their audit. When we initially responded to the request, the agency was very hesitant to provide us with any information as they thought we were an extension of their funder and that we were also conducting an audit.
As CBA providers, we had to take a step back and, instead of addressing the request right away, we had to build the relationship and trust with them. This, in turn, worked in everyone’s favor. The agency learned to trust us and saw that we could really assist them in better implementing and evaluating their programs. What started as one request that was supposed to last no more than three months turned into three additional requests that expanded over a one year period.