Community Ambassadors are community leaders who support the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaigns by disseminating HIV messaging, materials, and other CDC resources in the cities most heavily affected by HIV and aligns with jurisdictions identified in the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative.
2022 Community Ambassadors
Andres Acosta – Winter Park, FL
Andres is a first-generation Colombian American and a veteran of the United States Navy. Andres is the program coordinator for the Central Florida HIV Planning Council at Heart of Florida United Way. He guides and trains the council members who oversee the Ryan White System of Care for Lake, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, and Brevard counties. He is also the community relations manager for the Contigo Fund, the largest funder of LGBTQ issues in Central Florida. In addition, Andres is the program manager for the Maven Leadership Collective, which invests in talented queer and transgender social impact leaders of color and allies to create more resilient communities. Andres served as chair of the Community Advisory Board for Phase 3 HIV vaccine trials at Orlando Immunology Center and sits on the board of directors for Peer Support Space, an organization dedicated to providing accessible mental health resources. Andres received a bachelor’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida.
Jasmine Akins – Sarasota, FL
Jasmine is the nationwide PrEP program coordinator at CAN Community Health in Sarasota County, and volunteers with high school seniors through the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Take Stock in Children programs. Jasmine has worked with several non-profit organizations, locally and overseas, educating people on safer sex practices, promoting access to HIV and STD testing, and advocating for human rights. She provides medically accurate sexual health education through her online education platform, where she teaches individuals and organizations the importance of being informed about one’s health. Emerge Sarasota—an organization that strives to provide connections, opportunities, and a platform for young, professional minorities who have a passion for their community and careers—recently appointed Jasmine as a board member. Jasmine received a master’s in Health Education and Promotion focusing on Curriculum Design and a bachelor’s in Public Health from the University of South Florida in Tampa. She is currently working toward a doctorate in Educational Leadership.
Brenda “Bre” Azanedo – Paterson, NJ
Bre is an Afro-Latina educator and activist. She currently focuses on African American and Latino communities as part of the Minority AIDS Initiative at Coalition on AIDS in Passaic County (CAPCO) Resource Center, Inc. At CAPCO, she brings awareness and resources to educate people on safer sex practices, harm reduction, and prevention methods. She identifies barriers and develops programs and initiatives to help participants overcome them. Bre is an active member and organizer with Black Lives Matter Paterson, where she serves as the coordinator of the Harm Reduction Program. She believes that an important part of ending the HIV epidemic is meeting people where they are, walking beside them, and helping them find and amplify their own voice—all of which is done through building genuine relationships in the community. As an ambassador, Bre is looking forward to addressing HIV stigma, increasing awareness, and providing education on a larger scale to spaces that have historically lacked education. Bre received a bachelor’s in Psychology from the William Paterson University.
Santina Busch – Knoxville, TN
Santina is from Baltimore, Maryland, and works as a re-engagement specialist with the Tennessee Department of Health for the East Tennessee Region. At the Department of Health, she works to re-engage clients who have HIV, if they have been out of care for 12 or more months. Santina previously worked with the McNabb Center’s HIV Prevention Department, providing education, prevention, rapid testing, and wrap-around services to clients in need. As an ambassador, Santina is looking forward to providing much-needed educational resources and programming to her local jurisdiction. She believes that education is the key component to ending the HIV epidemic. Santina received a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from King University and is currently working on a master’s in Criminal Justice at Lincoln Memorial University.
Rhys Caraway – Houston, TX
Rhys is a Houston native who started in HIV outreach and sexual health education at the Houston Health Department. He joined the non-profit sector as the inaugural director of advocacy for Impulse Group Houston. In addition to his professional work, Rhys is a community organizer, activist, and advocate. He has worked with the Black Lives Matter movement around the Sandra Bland case in Waller County. He has worked alongside BLMHTX, a collective of activists, artists, and educators. Rhys founded the Black Queer Magic Empowerment brunch, an annual event honoring Houston’s Black LGBTQ community members. In 2017, OutSmart Magazine named Rhys one of the Top Black LGBTQ leaders. He is currently featured in the “Declaration of Independence” exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Rhys attended Prairie View A&M University.
Porchia Dees – San Bernardino, CA
Porchia is an HIV influencer who educates people on the topic of HIV and participates in public speaking. She has been doing HIV prevention and activism work since 2013, and has worked in HIV direct services for eight years in different capacities. Helping others and giving back to her community is her passion. Her mission is to become an expert at healing holistically and inspiring others to take better care of themselves—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Porchia sits on the Community Advisory Board for The Well Project for women and girls with HIV and is a member of the National HIV and Aging Advocacy Network for the NMAC. Porchia received a bachelor’s from the University of California, Riverside.
Elias Diaz – Eagle Pass, TX
Elias is a native of Eagle Pass, Texas. Elias co-founded the first local LGBTQ non-profit organization, EP SAFE (Eagle Pass Sexuality Advocacy for Everyone) and works closely with leaders in Del Rio, Texas, to recreate EP SAFE’s success. Through this joint program, both rural communities address LGBTQ stigma and raise awareness on sexual health. Elias started the first Pride parade in Eagle Pass and continues the annual tradition. He is a member of the Texas HIV Syndicate, where he serves as regional launch coordinator for the Texas Achieving Together plan. He is a consultant for AIDS United, and also serves as a contributing expert in the development of HIV Prevention in The United States, Bolstering LatinX Gay and Bisexual Men to Promote and Reduce HIV Transmission, by the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Elias serves on the Eagle Pass City Council and the Mayor’s Fitness Council. He is the Community Outreach Chair for the City of Eagle Pass Business and Economic Development Center’s Young Professionals Group. Elias received a master’s in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles and a bachelor’s in International Relations from the University of Southern California.
Rymsky Evans – Jackson, MS
Rymsky is an HIV community leader from Jackson, Mississippi, who is actively engaged in HIV prevention and care. She is currently chair for the Black Treatment Advocacy Network of the Black AIDS Institute, a national network of HIV/AIDS stakeholders who mobilize Black communities across the country to confront HIV. She’s responsible for leading meetings and providing technical assistance to local organizations. She founded Beloved Inc., an organization that provides peer support to women and girls with HIV. Rymsky is an HIV advocate on the Mississippi HIV Planning Council, where she develops strategies and implements interventions to engage more people with HIV, especially women of color. She currently serves as the state lead for the Positive Women Network and on the Mississippi Center for Justice Advisory Council.
Harveen Kaur – Cedar Park, TX
Harveen is of South Asian heritage and a native of Austin, Texas. Harveen is the marketing and communications intern for the Houston AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) at Baylor College of Medicine, which is one of the partner sites of the South Central AETC, and a training arm of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program. As an intern, Harveen promotes HIV education and resources, writes press releases, and uses her graphic design skills to produce health campaigns for HIV awareness. Through her work with Houston AETC, she is affiliated with the Texas Developmental Center for AIDS Research, and with It’s Time Texas, a non-profit organization that works with leaders and innovators in health care. She worked with the University of Texas Health Systems and Harris Health System at the Thomas Street Health Center, Houston’s largest freestanding HIV comprehensive care clinic. Harveen is an undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Health Sciences/Kinesiology and Biosciences (with a concentration in Cell Biology and Genetics) at Rice University.
Marissa Miller – Indianapolis, IN
Marissa is a nationally recognized advocate for human rights, social justice, health equity, and LGBTQ equality. For the last 15 years, she has worked at the local, state, and national level to improve access to treatment and care for transgender people and people with HIV, and to erase stigma and discrimination through education, policy, advocacy, and visibility. Marissa has worked with some of the nation’s most influential national agencies working to end the HIV epidemic, including AIDS United, National Institutes of Health, and several others. She is now working to create change globally, as the Founder of TransSolutions LLC, designed to create a global culture of safety for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming communities. Marissa is also the founder of the National Trans Visibility March, the first National March for transgender and non-conforming communities, which brings together over 30,000 constituents from across the United States each year. Marissa earned a bachelor’s in Human Services and Health Care Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Faith Mitchell – Capitol Heights, MD
Faith is a native of Toledo, Ohio. She is an HIV prevention program coordinator at a health center in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia area. Faith specializes in health education, program planning, and evaluation. Her interest in sexual health and HIV prevention was sparked when she was asked to join the Howard University Substance Abuse and HIV Outreach Program. The knowledge gained from her experiences in the classroom and healthcare field has provided her with the tools to succeed in numerous positions, specifically as a health educator, program coordinator, researcher, and advocate. Faith has presented at international conferences on topics about HIV prevention and has assisted various organizations in launching public health programs and initiatives to reduce stigma, empower communities, and spread knowledge about treatment and prevention. Faith received a master’s in Public Health and a bachelor’s in Community Health Education from Howard University.
Humberto Orozco – Marietta, GA
Humberto grew up in Gainesville, Georgia, where his family arrived after moving from Michoacán, Mexico when he was 8 years old. He is currently a community educator at Emory University’s Ponce Clinical Research Site and serves as a liaison to clinical research for underrepresented minorities. He was part of a sex-positive student organization promoting sexual health in college. After graduating, he volunteered as a tutor at Jerusalem House and later with the Georgia Association of Elected Officials, serving as the Georgia Latino Vote Committee chair. Humberto also volunteered at the North Georgia AIDS Alliance, a non-governmental organization that serves people with HIV. Humberto is on the Latino LinQ board of directors and has served as board president for over two years. He is the first member of his family to graduate from college. Humberto received a bachelor’s in Geography from the University of Georgia.
Aracelis Quinones – Long Island City, NY
Aracelis was born in Puerto Rico and is a person with HIV. In 1998, Aracelis began working with the Latino Commission on AIDS and has led many behavioral interventions and homegrown interventions. She currently coordinates Poder Latino (Latino Power)—one of the longest-lived HIV education and support programs for Latinos in the United States. Recently she started working with Spanish-speaking communities on Undetectable=Untransmittable by providing education about viral suppression, access, retention, and care. Aracelis started working in social services with the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services in Brooklyn, New York, where she did community work for the underserved and predominantly Spanish-speaking HIV population. Aracelis worked as a substance use counselor with the Partnership for the Homeless, conducting workshops about sexuality, HIV, STDs, and domestic violence for families residing at homeless shelters and with the Samaritan Village. Aracelis earned the Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor accreditation to work with people with substance use disorders.
Morris Singletary – Riverdale, GA
Morris is a person with HIV who is also a Black, Gay, and Christian man in the southern United States. He is an HIV advocate, organizer, and public health professional with expertise in HIV peer education, storytelling, and social media in Atlanta and the southern United States. Morris sits on the Metropolitan Atlanta HIV Health Services Planning Council. On his social media platform, PoZitive2PoSitive, he hosts live chats with guests about surviving and thriving with HIV. Morris received GLAAD Media Training and was featured in the Gilead COMPASS Initiative videos. At the 2019 GLAAD Los Angeles awards, Morris shared his story and presented entertainers Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jay-Z with awards for their achievements and commitment to equity.
Devanta “Chiina” Tyler – Greenville, MS
Devanta is an advocate and community leader from Greenville, Mississippi. He currently works for Community Health-Prevention, Intervention, Education, and Research, an organization that works to decrease health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and rural communities throughout Mississippi by delivering educational and training programs in social policy, research, advocacy, HIV prevention, and public health literacy. Devanta manages outreach programs that provide rapid HIV testing, linkage or re-linkage to HIV care, PrEP referrals, and information on LGBTQ support groups. Devanta is a certified nursing assistant and physical therapy aide. The work to end the HIV epidemic is important and deeply personal to him—he is a person with HIV and lost his biological father to the virus. He is living his dream working in this field and hopes to propel the work by being an ambassador. Devanta is currently studying Nursing and Criminal Justice at St. Louis University.
Previous Community Ambassadors
Mario Arturo Campos Lopez – Miami, FL
Mario Campos is a 25-year-old Salvadoran with a bachelor’s degree in International Relationships and he recently graduated with his second degree in International Business from Broward College in Florida. He has participated in public speaking and poetry events since a young age, and has won two public speaking competitions. In 2017, he was crowned as Miss Gay El Salvador and he developed different projects to empower the Salvadorian LGBTQIA+ community, raising his voice for this traditionally marginalized and excluded community. In addition, he led a legislative initiative demanding fair treatment and equal employment opportunity for the LGBTQIA+ community in El Salvador. In 2019, Mario was selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to become a youth fellow at the national convention for HIV, and in 2020, the President of El Salvador awarded him the recognition of “Young Influencer El Salvador 2020.” Currently, he is a United Nations (UN) volunteer and one of the 10 young spokespersons for the “Ideas that Work” program promoted by the Senate of Argentina and the UN. Also, he delivers talks on youth empowerment and immigrant children, and he is writing a book on personal growth. He supports the Florida Department of Health as a coordinator for HIV prevention and leadership groups and works as a counselor in the Clear and Life Coaching program focused on providing support to undocumented individuals newly diagnosed with HIV.
Ciarra Covin – Philadelphia, PA
Ciarra “Ci Ci” Covin, is a mother, lover of all human beings, and HIV/AIDS advocate who resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development and Master of Science in Human Services. Her advocacy work began in 2008, when she was diagnosed with HIV as a senior in college and she has since committed to serving her community wherever possible, often referring to herself as a Public Servant. As a blogger and Community Advisory Board member for The Well Project, an organization committed to inform, support, and advocate for women and girls affected by HIV, she has had the opportunity the lend her voice to bring awareness to issues that are unique to women with HIV and their particular needs. Serving in her role of Managing Member for Healing Is Voluntary, LLC, Ci Ci uses her social media platform to connect with members of the community, using the concepts and skills that she has learned along her journey to relate to others. She uses this as a tool to destigmatize HIV/AIDS and mental health as well as bringing awareness to these causes.
Monte Hammon – Montgomery, AL
Monte Hammon has been working in the field of HIV/AIDS since 2017. He was previously employed with Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) in Montgomery, Alabama as the Community Engagement Specialist. While working at MAO, he implemented routing opt-out HIV testing at Alabama State University and Tuskegee University. He started the “Level Up” HIV education/prevention program geared toward high school and college students, created and managed the “We Speak Internship Program,” developed the “Ready, Set, Work – Pre/Post Test Counseling Training,” and many other achievements. Today, Monte continues to work within the community and several organizations as a private consultant. He specifically enjoys educating high school and college students on HIV/AIDS, pre-exposure prophylactics (PrEP), and other preventative measures. He believes that the impact he makes on the individuals he encounters is meaningful and very effective.
Yasmyne Hunter – Atlanta, GA
Yasmyne Hunter has over 25 years’ experience in management and capacity building. She is a consultant for the Transgender Community and has been advocating since 2018, traveling around the Southern Region advocating for transgender rights, needs, and visibility. She is a sexually transmitted infection tester for National Behavioral Surveillance with the Georgia Health Department and is a graduate of the Georgia Equality Leadership Academy (TransActionGA). Yasmyne serves as an Ambassador for the National Trans March on D.C. and is a member of the Georgia Criminalization Advocates. As a consultant for the Southern AIDS Coalition, Yasmyne helped rewrite the provider care for Trans Women of Color (TWOC). Yasmyne is a member of Positively Trans and the Positive Women’s Network. She was a graduate of the MNAC BLOC Program and was a 2019 “POZ 100” Trans Advocate honoree. She is a graduate of the Medical Office Expert/Billing and Coding program from Javelin Technical College in Georgia.
Benjamin Ignalino – San Diego, CA
Ben Ignalino (he/him/his) is a proud Asian American with over 20 years in the HIV field. He currently serves as the Manager of HIV Prevention programs at Family Health Centers of San Diego. He has a longstanding history as both a frontline team member and administrator of HIV prevention grants focused on PrEP, syringe service programs, and “Queer Care.” Prior to his current role, Ben served as the Director of Capacity Building Assistance where he facilitated high-impact HIV Prevention trainings and designed tailored HIV-specific content for CDC-funded community-based organizations. His expertise on HIV testing, prevention for people living with HIV, condom distribution, and organizational development and management have helped shape HIV prevention efforts in communities across the country. He looks forward to bringing awareness and change to his community through the “Let’s Stop HIV Together” campaign.
Jen Laws – New Orleans, LA
Jen Laws is an independent policy consultant and advocate specializing in various aspects of healthcare policy and focusing on the needs of HIV-affected and transgender communities. Over the last decade, he has been a member of multiple local and state HIV/AIDS planning bodies, including the South Florida AIDS Network and chairing the Data-Driven Policy and Advocacy committee for Louisiana’s Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. plan, “Get Loud Louisiana.” Jen is also a board member for the ADAP Advocacy Association where he advocates for the power of medication access, delivery and payment systems, empowering PWLH as Prevention Warriors, and has assisted in collaborative projects with numerous community partners including “RAD Remedy,” the “Black Gifted and Whole“ community education group, “Simply Amazing You Are,” Latino community services, and more. He recently joined the efforts of the Community Access National Network as their policy consultant, writing the quarterly HIV-HCV Co-Infection Watch Report and HEALS blog.
David Lester-Massey – Atlanta, GA
David Lester-Massey is a motivational speaker who travels sharing his story of “Life Beyond the Diagnosis,” and works in public health in Atlanta, Georgia. He launched a national speaking platform through a strategic partnership with a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., “The Black Women’s Health Imperative,” raising awareness and education on HIV/AIDS to more than 59,000 African-American women. Through this partnership, he has been featured at events such as “The Stellar Gospel Awards,” “The Congressional Black Caucus,” and the “International HIV/STD Conference series.” He has published articles on both Healthline.com and POZ.com to promote HIV Awareness and has been featured on the cover of both HIV Plus and Out magazines with his husband Johnny. David’s public health work also includes being an intricate part of cutting edge development in the introduction of PrEP,) as well as a subject matter expert at workshops regarding condom distribution and the fundamentals of HIV/AIDS prevention training and implementation. As an advocate connecting with various audiences he hopes to educate while addressing the stigma still attached to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Raul Marca Terrones – Brooklyn, NY
Raul Marca (he/him/his) is a Program Manager for the Sexual and Behavioral Health program at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. With over five years of experience in the HIV, he does field work with vulnerable populations, including immigrants and the LGBTQI+ community. Raul is working on his bachelor’s degree in Public and Community Health at La Guardia Community College in New York. He has previously worked in the Latino Commission on AIDS as an Mpowerment Coordinator in a community-based organization. He consistently seeks and identifies opportunities to develop processes that are more efficient and he has an acute attention to detail in professional and school assignments. He has been on the national campaign, “Let’s Stop HIV Together,” appearing in a commercial on social media and television. He remains a leader, supporter, and role model inspiring others to continue their resilience.
Shadawn McCants – Houston, TX
Shadawn McCants is a Licensed Professional Counselor who serves as the Clinical Director of Know and Live Counseling and Consulting, where her areas of specialty are trauma healing, HIV education and advocacy, and crisis intervention specifically with individuals living with HIV. She is also the Executive Director of “2 Know is 2 Live,” a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting active, engaged, and has empowered Black women and girls to get tested and know their status. She combines her role as a therapist and HIV/AIDS advocate, employing out-of-the box methods to reach black women and girls and vulnerable populations by educating and creating awareness through infotainment and leveraging social media to raise awareness about safer sex practices and sex positivity. Shadawn also serves as the Co-Chair of Texas Black Women’s Health Initiative and is an active member of Positive Women Network-USA, Houston Chapter. She has been awarded Innovative Outreach of the Year from the African American State of Emergency Task Force and continues to be a champion in the work of Ending the HIV Epidemic in the South.
Natalia Rodriguez – Houston, TX
Natalia currently works as a Program Manager for the Baylor College of Medicine Houston AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC), a local partner site of the South Central AETC and training arm of the HRSA funded Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. In this role, she supports efforts to develop cultural humility and HIV health trainings for Latinx and transgender communities. She is also the lead on an Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative to develop the Houston/Harris County Rapid ART (antiretroviral therapy) Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) among five Ryan White Part A clinics. As a Latina, she is especially interested in expanding inclusive intervention strategies for sexual and gender minority Latinx individuals. Natalia has a bachelor’s Degree in Mathematical Biology and is a recent graduate of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where she earned her Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology with a concentration in Public Health Informatics.
Milani Varela – Chicago, IL
Milani, a Latinx, GNC, drag queen performer, and activist is currently an HIV Tester & Counselor at CALOR, an affiliation of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. She has been working in HIV prevention since 2008. She previously worked for VIDA/SIDA at The Puerto Rican Cultural Center as a Program Coordinator for the Mpowerment Program and later as the Manager of Community Education & Outreach. Milani is also part of the ballroom scene, where she served as the Mother of “The Iconic House of Ninja” from 2010-2020. She has been on boards with other ballroom members for research studies focused on people of color in the ballroom community. She is also part of The TransLatina Coalition-Chicago Chapter where the focus is to advocate for transgender immigrants. Her work includes biomedical HIV prevention and presented at the U.S. Conference on AIDS on how to disseminate information on PrEP, PEP, HIV vaccines, and rectal microbicides in the Latinx community. As a former Miss Latina Continental Plus, Milani has been able to use beauty pageants as a platform to expand her work in HIV prevention. She has won many pageants, trophies at balls, and received many awards from community leaders and organizations, but her biggest reward is being able to continue to do the work for her community.
Ronaldo Vázquez – San Juan, PR
Ronaldo works as an HIV Testing Provider and Services Navigator in San Juan, Puerto Rico addressing populations with increased risk for HIV, including men who have sex with men, gay and bisexual men, and transgender individuals. As a person living with HIV, he uses his social media platforms to normalize HIV conversations, raise awareness, and talk about prevention options like PrEP, PEP, and HIV treatment. He focuses on reducing the stigma in the community while helping others living with HIV to cope with their individual processes through one-on-one support or by linking them to mental health providers. As an advocate, activist, and educator, Ronaldo continues to seek new and creative ways to keep the HIV conversation going and support the message of prevention using his own experiences and reliable information. Ronaldo wants to contribute to create a safe world for those living with HIV and who are silent or afraid because of stigma. He uses his diagnosis so that other people feel empowered and understand that they can live a long and healthy life by knowing their status.
Giuliani Alvarenga – New Orleans
Giuliani is a law student at Loyola University New Orleans. They are a writer for The Body and focuses on immigration work in tandem with public health concerns. One of their focus is the correlation between a rise in HIV rates amongst Latina/o/x folks and the proliferation of anti-immigration rhetoric. Additionally, Giuliani is a Teaching Assistant at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and a Litigation Analyst at Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP, where they support attorneys on pro bono immigration cases, including preparation of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) applications for unaccompanied minors, translating documents from English to Spanish, and attending client meetings. Giuliani also served as a Public Policy Research Assistant for Lambda Legal and supported a family acceptance project to start a dialogue between Latino LGBTQ youth and their parents to create greater acceptance of the youth’s sexual and gender identities.
Zareon Anthony – Memphis
Zareon currently works as a Community Outreach Coordinator and PrEP Navigator in Memphis, TN. In this role he supports fundraising efforts, plans and organizes special events, and collaborates with local medical providers to promote HIV testing and PrEP. He is a member of the Headliners, which is a partnership between community organizations such as St. Jude, Lebonuher, Planned Parenthood, CHOICES, and other health organizations to help combat stigma in directly impacted populations. Zareon’s goal is to promote sex positive environments that allow people to feel comfortable about asking important questions surrounding HIV and prep awareness. Zareon is a graduate of the University of Memphis.
Lee Brown – Little Rock
Lee Brown, BS-EMS, NRP, PSP, is a licensed clinician who uses his platform to educate and advocate for those who are impacted by health disparities. For his work in awareness and education, Lee has received numerous awards and recognition from local, national, and international organizations. He is a graduate of the Black AIDS Institute’s African American HIV University (AAHU) in the Science and Treatment College at the University of California at Los Angeles and served as the Arkansas Department of Health Community Connector. Lee links individuals into care and treatment, strengthens local and national leadership, connects influential peers, raises health science and treatment literacy in marginalized communities, and advocates for policy change and research priorities. Lee has served on Merck & Co. HIV Speakers Bureau was empowering consumers to be active participants in their health management process. He is a former spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Health’s Know Now campaign encouraging statewide testing. Lee has a Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Medical Sciences from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is pursuing his Master’s degree in Public Administration, and is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated.
Leslie Castillo Navia – Charlotte
Leslie is a bilingual AIDS-Certified Registered Nurse whose passion centers around pediatric HIV care and education for health care professionals. She has collaborated in local and regional efforts to normalize HIV prevention and improve PrEP access and retention in the concerted quest to end this epidemic. She coordinated an HIV testing and treatment program for immigrant farmworkers in rural Southwest Florida and has collaborated with multidisciplinary partners and health departments for HIV reporting/surveillance, financial assistance programs, and linkage to empirical care and support services, particularly for underserved populations. She has extensive international volunteer experience in Spain, Mexico, Haiti, and India. Leslie is a member of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, and she continues to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment through community outreach activities and events.
Alexi Díaz León – San Juan
Born on June 13th, 1981 in Aibonito, PR, Alexi has a BA in Accounting from the University of Puerto Rico and a Law Degree from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. He was a member of Homoerotica, a group of LGBTQ+ writers. In 2012, he moved to Miami where he served as a volunteer for SAVE Dade, Latinos Salud, and the non-profit Prevention305. He moved to San Juan, PR in 2017, has been a volunteer for the SEX Team since 2017, and attended the National HIV Prevention Conference in 2019 with a CDC Scholarship. He is a founding member of CAMPoz, a collective of artists living with HIV that use their art to educate and reduce stigma. He has served as a speaker for conferences related to HIV in both law schools in San Juan.
Shellita Dillon – St. Louis
In 2001, Shellita started her path as a sexual health educator while working part-time as a radio personality. Shellita combined her role as an entertainer and HIV/AIDS advocate, utilizing out-of-the box methods to reach high-risk communities by educating and creating awareness through infotainment to keep her audience engaged. In 2013, Shellita was recognized by Washington University’s School of Medicine for her work with women living with HIV/AIDS. Shellita wrote, produced, and directed two successful “visual interventions” (stage plays). She also created an HIV awareness documentary, developed and facilitated workshops, conducted countless testing and counseling outreach events, and has enjoyed the experience of volunteering each year at the United States Conference on AIDS.
Jackie FanFan – Miami
Jackisha “Jackie” FanFan is a Sexual Health/Outreach Educator at Care Resource-Fort Lauderdale who is working to spread awareness of HIV/STI prevention and health promotion. Jackisha works within the community to raise knowledge of PrEP, PEP, linkage services, and contraceptives (condoms, oral dams, lube use, female condoms, oral condoms, etc.). She also facilitates small groups, as well as one-on-one encounters; attends outreach events, engages community-based partnerships, and leverages social media to raise awareness about safer sex practices and sex positivity. Jackisha also supported the Florida Department of Health-Broward County and served as a Legislative Aid for FL State House Representative Daphne Campbell.
Venae’ A. Gordon – Jackson
Venae’ is a mother and the Founder, CEO, and chief thought leader of Just That Social Worker, LLC (JTSW), a company created to fill a gap, while disrupting toxic societal, cultural, and community norms. Venae’ is an advocate and change agent, helping others to help themselves. Venae’ has 10 year of experience providing grassroots social services and five years of being a Mental Health and Medical Social Worker licensed in both Georgia and Mississippi. Her areas of specialty are mental and behavioral health, HIV education and advocacy, and crisis intervention. She received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Bethune-Cookman University and Master of Science degree in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University. She currently works at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in the Department of Infectious Diseases.
Ian L. Haddock – Houston
Ian L. Haddock is the Executive Director of The Normal Anomaly Initiative, a digital storytelling organization that focuses on reducing the stigma of HIV and mental health illness. He also serves as President of Impulse Group Houston, a global organization that supports, empowers, and cultivates gay men. Haddock is also an esteemed writer serving as LGBTQ Editor of Reel Urban Magazine and has an essay published to Logo/ NewNowNext amongst many other publications. Haddock has been awarded Trailblazer of the Year from the African American State of Emergency Task Force and the Dr. Mark A. Colomb Emerging Young Leader from the National African American Leadership Conference. Haddock has been featured in Urban Socialites, Voyage Houston, Outsmart Magazine, FOX News, iHeart Radio and many other media outlets.
Ka’Juan Hill – Detroit
Ka’Juan Hill is a Community Outreach Specialist at UNIFIED-HIV Health and Beyond where he uses his innovative, sex-positive outreach strategies to reach communities of color. Ka’Juan graduated from Specs Howard School of Media Arts with a degree in Broadcast Media. Ka’Juan aspires to be a television host. Using social media as a tool, Ka’Juan Hill’s stage name KHAOS is a nationally-recognized rising activist, legend in ballroom, and social entrepreneur. Ka’Juan is also known as “Mr. Let’s Talk About It,” the host of his personal-branded internet show, “The Lets Talk About It Show,” where he speaks and invites people to discuss topics and issues in the hopes of reaching an understanding and clarity. Because of his continual philanthropy work, Ka’Juan was given the Henry Messer Youth Award 2017 by Equality Michigan.
Art Jackson – Indianapolis
Art Jackson is the Linkage to Care Coordinator for BU WELLNESS NETWORK of Indianapolis, Indiana. He has worked 34 years in this field as an advocate, activist, and educator who continues to seek new and improved ways to share the message of prevention, especially related to the most-impacted communities of color. His journey is also a personal one having lived 30 years with the HIV virus. His journey has allowed him to see the impact of this disease from its inception to, hopefully, its end. He has worked with and for some of the leading community-based organizations and has done outstanding work in development of program and prevention measures. He believes that each day given is a chance for change.
Anthony Johnson – Chicago
Anthony Johnson is an HIV/AIDS advocate, educator, and community researcher. Anthony serves as the manager of community engagement for clinical research at University of Illinois at Chicago focused on improving the uptake of vulnerable groups into HIV prevention and vaccine studies. Anthony continues to partner with organizations and coalitions such as the Black Treatment Advocate Network, Illinois PrEP Working Group, and Chicago’s Black Gay Men’s Caucus to address research and policy agendas around HIV disparities. With 10 years of public health research and service experience, Anthony has worked alongside universities and hospital systems to lead several clinical and behavioral studies, and will bring his passion and training to serve in his role as a Let’s Stop HIV Together Ambassador.
Richard LaBoy – Philadelphia
LaBoy’s work and volunteer experiences involves working with underserved communities, specifically young LGBTQ people of color, on psychosocial and sexual health issues including: homelessness, HIV/AIDS, mental health treatment, substance use/abuse, fighting poverty and discrimination. Currently as a member of the Adolescent Initiative at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a unit of the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network and an NIH-funded research network, he is assisting in the organization, coordination, and implementation of intervention trials for HIV-infected and at-risk youth. With his professional experience and ties to Philadelphia’s LGBT community, he has successfully engaged community leadership, implemented prevention methodologies, and collected data to ensure that study outcomes are met.
Mahlon Jaylan Randolph – Atlanta
Mahlon Randolph is a community organizer and human rights advocate who is impassioned to serve his community through education and advocacy. He recently earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University and an Associate of Science in Political Science from Darton State College. Mahlon actively serves on the Georgia Prevention & Care Council, which oversees and plans for the prevention and care of HIV/AIDS in the state of Georgia. He also currently serves as chair of the Youth Advisory Committee for the City of Atlanta Homeless Continuum of Care. Mahlon also has experience with community-based, non-profit organizations focused on preventing HIV and STIs and providing linkage to care for Black gay, bi-sexual, and queer men, men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals.
Gabriella Rodriguez – Orlando
Gabriella is a Latinx advocate whose work aims at eliminating the stigma and discrimination within the HIV and LGBT populations by raising awareness to those in the community through education and empowerment. Gabriella brings along with her a wealth of local community knowledge with her continued work in direct services and history in being an advocate, driven as a direct result of her own life experiences. Currently she serves as the PR and Marketing Chair of the Central Florida HIV Planning Councila, which addresses prevention care and the treatment of those in the local HIV community. She has participated in various other organizations promoting and raising awareness about LGBT issues and sexual health. Gabriella’s goals are to continue advocacy work by advancing the visibility of and empowerment within all communities.
Nestor Rogel – Los Angeles
Born HIV-positive to an undocumented family in South Central Los Angeles, Nestor grew up in a disadvantaged neighborhood where he faced stigma and discrimination for living with HIV. Following the loss of his mother due to an AIDS-related opportunistic infection, he began his HIV outreach efforts at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He went on to volunteer with the Student Global AIDS Campaign and later served on the Presidential Advisory Council for HIV and AIDS. Today, he works as a Case Manager for AltaMed and is an alternate member for the Los Angeles Commission on HIV. To combat stigma, he tattooed “HIV+” on his forearm as a reminder of his mission: to break misconceptions of what it means to be living with HIV, and to stand in solidarity with those who may not be ready to disclose or accept their status.
Ryane Sickles – Cincinnati
Ryane is an experienced HIV Intervention Specialist and advocate with a demonstrated history of working in the public health, wellness, education, and prevention fields. She has worked with community-based organizations, counseling agencies, local and state health departments, and national workgroups to further the mission of prevention, awareness, and reducing stigma. Ryane currently serves as Program Manager for the Early Intervention Program located in the University of Cincinnati Emergency Department. There, her team screens patients and provides HIV and HCV testing, as well as linkage to community resources and medical care for those who are HIV+, HCV+, or struggling with substance use disorders or mental health issues. Skilled in community outreach, non-profit work, and team building, Ryane is working to expand this work in the surrounding communities.
Cole Still – Columbus
Cole Still is an MSM HIV Prevention Coordinator at Equitas Health and is responsible for developing and implementing marketing plans and programs for a non-profit organization with 21 statewide offices. Cole organized strategic marketing relationships with agencies, vendors and all community partners; provided leadership that included working with program managers and grant-funded leaders; and evaluated and prepared events and programs for effectiveness. Cole is also a marketing Manager for Co-Op Digital, a global marketing co-op dedicated to the development and success of brands focused on social impact. Cole is passionate about fighting stigma against HIV and working to educate the community on prevention efforts to decrease stigma surrounding HIV and raise awareness.
Aron Thiim – Boston
Aron Thiim (he/him/his) is a social justice advocate and public health professional dedicated to improving health and fighting stigma. While completing his B.S. in Public & Community Health, he worked at a syringe exchange in Upstate NY providing syringe access and risk reduction services to people who use substances, and led community education seminars about HIV/HCV and opioid overdose prevention. After graduation, he worked at Fenway Health coordinating behavioral intervention projects among sexual and gender minority individuals living with HIV and substance use disorders. He is currently a Program Manager of STI’s and Prevention at The Justice Resource Institute (JRI). His outreach and volunteer experiences include individuals experiencing homelessness, people who are incarcerated, people at risk or living with HIV, and people who use substances.
Sergio Velasquez – San Diego
Sergio is a Program Coordinator for HIV Prevention at Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD). In this capacity, he supervises and facilitates the activities for In The Mix (ITM), a prevention program for young men of color who have sex with men. With ITM’s enthusiastic group of volunteers, Sergio has led testing and outreach efforts directed at San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community. In addition to HIV prevention interventions, Sergio lends his support to FHCSD’s clean syringe exchange, as well as transgender health services. Sergio is a proud gay, first-generation Salvadoran-American and aims to be of service to his community through allyship and advocacy.
Jason Black – Houston, TX
As an HIV/AIDS advocate, Jason has used his platform to work to organize and mobilize young black gay men in the Houston area through an intervention program that he leads, called mSociety. mSociety is a niche program designed to uplift and empower young gay and bisexual African American men through personal and professional development, while providing HIV/AIDS prevention, outreach, education, and awareness. Jason is currently the Director of Public Health Services at Legacy Community Health Services and continues to partner with organizations like Texas HIV Planning Group and Houston GLBT Political Caucus. Jason served as a member of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, Youth Advisory Board during the Obama Administration and Committee Chair of the Texas HIV Planning Group.
Davin D. Clemons, DMin – Memphis, TN
Following in the footsteps of thought and social justice leaders, Davin has dedicated his life to becoming a voice for the voiceless. Davin is a 12-year veteran of the Memphis Police Department and the first black LGBTQ liaison of the Memphis Police Department. Davin co-founded Relationship Unleashed and Cathedral Foundation, Inc., and has developed a comprehensive curriculum geared towards African Americans, aged 13-25, that promotes awareness of abstinence and safer sex. Davin brings his extensive track record of ministry, motivational speaking, public service, and event planning, working with organizations such as Texas HIV Planning Group and African American Lesbian and Gay Alliance.
César Emil Concepción-Acevedo – San Juan, PR
César leads an HIV Prevention Program in Puerto Rico that serves populations with increased risk for HIV including men who have sex with men, gay and bisexual men, and transgender individuals.
The program focus includes HIV testing, client service navigation and referral, structural condom distribution, and interventions such as personal cognitive counseling. César also has experience with community-based, non-profit organizations focused on preventing HIV/AIDS among transgender youth.
Daniel J. Downer – Orlando, FL
Daniel is a community advocate in the central Florida area known for his passion in fighting discrimination, stigma, and health disparities among minority populations. Daniel is an Early Intervention Services Program Coordinator at the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida. He is also actively engaged in his community where he serves as the Patient Care Consumer Representative for the Central Florida HIV Planning Council. Daniel’s work in his community received national recognition from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, where alongside nine young advocates, he became a part of the 2017 HRC HIV 360° Fellowship Program. As founder of The Bros in Convo Initiative, Daniel has quickly become one of Orlando’s leading voices for HIV education, prevention, and testing.
José Ramón García-Madrid – Phoenix, AZ
As a child, with little to no access to healthcare, José relied on the internet, chat lines, and other resources to find information about sexual health. As an HIV/AIDS advocate, José’s mission is to ensure that HIV/AIDS education is available, especially for at-risk populations. José has worked with Union Equals Fuerza: The Latinx Institute, within the Creating Change LGBTQ conference, to bring together over 200 LGBTQ Latinxs for a full day of skills sharing, workshops and presentations related to queer Latinx activism. Jose believes that, “voices of LGBT immigrants are disproportionately absent in conversations of justice and equity in Arizona,” and that there is an undeniable link between Arizona’s anti-LGBT laws and its rising HIV infection rates.
Sian A. Green – New Orleans, LA
Sian is a HIV/AIDS activist from the Greater New Orleans, Louisiana area. Sian works through many organizations to bring awareness to the community including people with HIV. She works closely with the Southern AIDS Coalition, the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies, Positive Women’s Network, Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network and Crescent Care. Sian developed a program titled “Seasoned Gracefully,” which provides educational resources and coaching to individuals affected by the trials of domestic violence, low self-esteem, homelessness and HIV and AIDS. Sian seeks to assist those who are uneducated and/or misinformed about the resources available to them.
Queen Hatcher-Johnson – Atlanta, GA
Queen is a Clinic Office Associate at Positive Impact Heath Centers. Queen uses her platform to serve as a peer advocate, public speaker, wife to her husband Terrance Hatcher-Johnson, and mother to their two fur babies Rolex and King. She has been featured in many social justice commercials ranging from combating housing discrimination to the importance of voting. Queen attributes her success to the support and leadership training development of organizations like the National Minority AIDS Council, the Elton John Foundation, Positive Impact Health Centers, Georgia Equality and the Equality Foundation. Queen’s motto is “no isn’t no, it’s just you on your way to your next opportunity.”
Darius J. Jones – Columbia, SC
While completing his Bachelor of Arts in Social Science degree at Allen University, Darius worked as an MSM Community Specialist and Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) at South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council (now Joseph H. Neal Wellness Center). Along with his rewarding workload, he spearheaded Change2Change, an LGBTQ+ support group to enrich the lives of young men and raise HIV prevention awareness. Following graduation in 2013, Darius landed a position as Community Outreach Coordinator at Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services where he coordinated, implemented, and evaluated HIV and STD psychosocial interventions for various at-risk groups. Darius has more than nine years of experience providing HIV/STD prevention education to African American men who have sex with men in Columbia and surrounding areas.
Michael J. Roman – Miami, FL
Michael has over 15 years of community engagement experience. As a community leader working for the City of Miami, Michael has fine-tuned his skills in community outreach, coordinating events, developing actions plans, and facilitating projects. Most recently, Michael implemented the City of Miami’s HIV initiative to address the growing epidemic. Michael also brings his expertise and experience as a staffer for the National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison. Michael brings a wealth of knowledge, partnership, and experience to his role as a Let’s Stop HIV Together Ambassador.
Connie Shearer – Las Vegas, NV
With over 12 years of experience in raising HIV/AIDS awareness, Connie has developed an extensive peer advocacy network. As creator of the six-part training series, “Stay in Your Own Lane: How to be an HIV Advocate 101,” Connie informs the community on how to apply for HIV/AIDS awareness conferences, how to share their story, and how to affect their communities. Connie’s outreach experience includes journalism, event planning, and public speaking. She continues her quest to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and support by leading “Positive Living in Las Vegas” and facilitating groups and training at the Gay and Lesbian Center of Las Vegas.
Christopher Cuevas – Orlando, FL
A lifelong peace practitioner, educator, and community organizer, Christopher has a long history of advocating for LGBTQ+, farmworker, and racial justice movements, each deeply interconnected to experiences as a child of immigrants and queer person of color. Through work with various community initiatives and organizations, Christopher has led community conversations and facilitated community education campaigns specifically addressing structural racism, health equity, and LGBTQ+ issues.
Phillip Lambert – Chicago, IL
Phillip Lambert is a rapper, actor, writer, model, curator, and strategist with HIV. Phillip also serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Creative Director of The BLAK Collective, a queer art collective that uses hip-hop and afrofuturism music as a self-care regimen and accessible creative arts education as the necessary tools for the liberation of all black and brown people. Phillip has over 13 years of experience as a sexual health educator and HIV activist while pursuing a Doctorate in Community Psychology. Phillip’s work has appeared in Art AIDS America Chicago, the Alphawood Gallery, and on Blavity, Chelsea Lately, Essence, The Soup, VH1, and Queer, Ill + OKAY.
Chance McKee – San Diego
Chance McKee is a native Texan who relocated to California in 2016. Chance became involved with the HIV and AIDS movement while working for an AIDS Services Organization in southern California, where he created innovative, grassroots outreach strategies to engage the local community in helping to end the epidemic. Chance believes the tools and information are available to end the epidemic once and for all, and hopes that by serving as an Ambassador for the CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaigns. He can help increase awareness of how to stop the spread of HIV. Chance currently serves the LGBT community as the Director of Development for San Diego LGBT Pride.
Alexander Pacach – Los Angeles, CA
Alexander’s search for a safe space to better understand his sexuality led to also discovering the field of HIV prevention a decade ago. Through dedication and passion as a volunteer, Alexander was given the opportunity to work as a health educator to better support the community. Since then, Alexander has primarily provided direct services to underserved communities including youth, queer and people of color. Most recently, he launched a YouTube channel, “Closeted Conversations,” with the goal of creating a safe space that fosters genuine conversations about social taboos.
John (Rob) Phoenix, APRN, FNP-C – Las Vegas, NV
Rob Phoenix, is a family nurse practitioner in Las Vegas, Nevada (NV) where he owns and operates the largest LGBTQ-focused medical clinic in southern NV. Rob focuses his practice on HIV prevention, HIV treatment, transgender health care, and providing primary care. Rob is the predominate provider of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) care and the clinic is the largest provider of pre-exposure prophylaxis prevention (PrEP) in southern NV. Rob is also the president of the Huntridge Family Clinic Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on providing health care to the LGBTQ and Allies community in Las Vegas. He was recently selected as the Southern Nevada Health District 2018 Pubic Health Hero.
Jessica Zyrie – Houston, TX
Jessica Zyrie is a black transgender model, advocate and clinical case manager at the Montrose Center. Jessica has used her platform to advocate for equality across the intersectionality of race and gender identity. Jessica Zyrie became public with her transition in October 2016, and has used her publicity to increase visibility and education for the community. She has advocated with local, state, and national organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Texas, Transgender Education Network of Texas, Gilead, and the Houston Health Department. She has been featured internationally on Google Pride’s 2017 Campaign #IShowUp and has been featured in online fashion editorials for major magazines including Essence, Elle, and Marie Claire.