Vice President of Access & Innovation
For AU’s Vice President of Access & Innovation Maura Riordan, “community” is an important part of both life and work. She became involved with HIV/AIDS work at the beginning of the epidemic, when so many young gay men -- many of her friends -- were getting sick and dying.
“I witnessed the horrible fear, stigma and homophobia that these men faced during the process of dying,” said Riordan, who has a Master’s of Social Work degree. “I told myself that I had to do something – I had to help. I wanted to be able to tell my future children that I did not sit by during a time of incredible ignorance and hatred toward my community.”
And she certainly did not sit back and began helping almost immediately! Riordan embraced a career in HIV/AIDS that has spanned more than 25 years. Before coming to AIDS United in 2009, she served as Executive Director in multiple community-based organizations, including the organization Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Disease (WORLD) in Oakland, CA for seven years. WORLD focuses on support, advocacy and education for women living with HIV/AIDS throughout the United States. In 2008, Riordan facilitated a series of national consults in preparation for the rollout of the Obama Administration’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
“The stigma around HIV/AIDS is still alive and well,” said Riordan. “The epidemic is more complex, in terms of what people are actually dying of. HIV is one of several intersecting issues for many people in the US: poverty, racism, violence, and more. The brunt of the epidemic falls on MSM of color and people of color living in poverty. The social justice aspect of this work keeps me engaged and motivated to stay in this fight!”
Riordan enjoys being on the “funder” side of the HIV/AIDS world, because of the difference funders can make when they support targeted and strategic initiatives to advance the end of the epidemic.
“After many years of being an Executive Director of community based organizations, it is such a huge privilege to be a funder,” she said. “There are so many amazing people and organizations throughout the US who are making a difference in their communities, and I have the opportunity to help resource them, and to be inspired by their work! Many of these organizations may be small, even getting overlooked in the shadow of larger organizations, but they are certainly mighty and we are thrilled to be able to support them!”