1. How did you get started working in the HIV/AIDS community?
When I was a student at UCLA, 17 years ago, I was very active in a Queer Latino student organization called “La Familia”. La Familia had a mentorship program in collaboration with a local Latino HIV/AIDS service provider organization. The focus of the mentorship program was for La Familia to work with the youth at the agency and help them get college bound, increase their self esteem and curve the notion, especially for many of the young gay men, that becoming HIV infected was their fate. Many of the activities La Familia organized and supported took place at the agency. This is where I first began to make my connections with HIV/AIDS service providers and learned about the importance of HIV education and prevention. Once I graduated from grad school I immediately got into this field.
2. Tell us about your position at Shared Action & Shared Action HD.
Officially my title is CBA Coordinator, ICBA services. This means that I am the person who receives all the individual requests from CBOs and health departments then I process the request and pass them on to one of my colleagues to work on. My teammates make my job real easy for me, with all the networking they do and great reputation that they’ve established, many of the requests we receive have been fostered by them. My job then is to make sure that all the work we do with our clients is properly recorded in our electronic records information system for reporting purposes and communicating with the CDC, our funder, should any concerns arise.
3. What is your vision for CBA?
I would like for CBA to keep on growing, knowledge wise, for us to continue to be a great resources for the community. I would also like for there to be more opportunities to work with medical providers, get their perspective on how to best address this epidemic as well as shed some best practices on how to routinize testing and work effectively with people who are living with HIV/AIDS.
4. Tell us about a particular experience or case you’ve worked on that stood out to you. What made it stand out?
Working in CBA for 6 years now, so many experiences stand out, especially those cases where you’re able to see the progress in the program you’re helping out. For the past year now, I’ve been working with a faith based organization in Puerto Rico that does HIV prevention with high risk women. I’ve helped them with writing grants, reviewing their reports, assisted with evaluation activities etc. What impressed me the most was this agency’s drive, they operate under a $30,000 annual budget yet they are so determined to educate and give so much of themselves to some of the most impoverished communities in Puerto Rico. For me it puts things in perspective, we live in a society that is so driven by excess consumption and seeing the folks at this agency give so much of themselves, literally working for free…it’s a humbling experience. Each time I met with them they were so eager to learn and put into practice their new skills because they knew that the communities they served would be better for it.