2023 SHIF Leadership Development Cohort

AIDS United’s Southern HIV Impact Fund is pleased to introduce the new 2023 Leadership Development Cohort.

This cohort — the next generation of leaders in Southern HIV advocacy — will receive access to much-needed financial resources, plus development experience, ranging from large organizational instruction to individual leadership training.

AIDS United will lead these organizations in networking, improving professional skills, increasing access to resources and improving overall resilience in this fight to end HIV.

Topics of focus include strategic communications, grant writing and fundraising and campaign development. Efforts will also be made to increase intersectional work, integrate racial justice principles and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV.

The cohort includes:

  • Ataiya Bridges, Texas Southern University (Houston, Texas)
  • Brandi Taylor, Hope House (Memphis, Tennessee)
  • Estella Guerrero, Eagle Pass SAFE (Eagle Pass, Texas)
  • Jabari Baymon, CH-PIER (Greenville, Mississippi)
  • Jaipiere Morrison, MS Positive Network (Mississippi)
  • Joe Brown III, Gretna Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Gretna, Louisiana)
  • Kesha Holloway, TAKE Resource Center (Birmingham, Alabama)
  • Marcus Kennedy, Grambling State University (Grambling, Louisiana)
  • Shaquita Miles, The Women’s Collective (Washington, D.C.)
  • Tavianna Rouse, WeCare TN (Memphis, Tennessee)

These advocates and their organizations represent the best in understanding the epidemic in the South, particularly for those who are members of Black, Latinx, queer and transgender communities.

With that in mind, AIDS United asked this new cohort a question:

How are you SHIFting the narrative in the South?

Ataiya Bridges, Texas Southern University (Houston, TX)

SHIFting the narrative around HIV prevention, care, treatment and social/racial advocacy in the South involves several key steps: To begin, focusing on education and awareness can shift the narrative. Raising awareness about HIV, its prevention, treatment and the impact it has on different communities can shine a light to change the stigma placed on HIV by using accurate, evidence-based information to do away with misconceptions. Next, engaging community leaders to collaborate with influencers and local organizations to spread accurate information and promote the importance of HIV prevention and care to encourage open conversation and understanding. Lastly, advocating for improved access to HIV testing, prevention tools (such as PrEP), medical care and support services. This is especially important in underserved areas.

Brandi Taylor, Hope House (Memphis, TN)

I am focusing on addressing the disparities in mental health services in the community. Also, I’m developing a performance measure to understand how mental health issues and their service delivery impact the sustainability of viral suppression.

Estella Guerrero, Eagle Pass SAFE (Eagle Pass, TX)

I am bringing awareness to my community one step at a time to lower transition date in the south.

Jabari Baymon, CH-PIER (Greenville, MS)

I am the Program Manager for BGMM at Community Health Pier. I do HIV testing, as well as counseling for Black Gay Men and the LGBTQ+ communities at large.

Jaipiere Morrison, MS Positive Network (Mississippi)

I take my journey seriously and do everything I can to be a positive influence. It starts within yourself to be a strong strong that can connect to many outlets. I want others to be sexually educated on HIV and self love; to not be judgemental or scared to learn.

Joe Brown III, Gretna Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Gretna, LA)

[I am] attending different forums and conferences to educate myself and others in the South. I am a part of a Black Greek letter organization, and my fraternity is on board with reaching out to different communities in the South to create safe spaces surrounding HIV conversations and related issues.

Kesha Holloway, TAKE Resource Center (Birmingham, AL)

There’s beauty in knowing… I can’t express enough to my peers how important it is to know your status and to stay protected. Use universal precautions with everyone, treat all STDs the same, even the ones that are curable. Just because you have a positive diagnosis does not mean the end. We are all the same in different ways.

Marcus Kennedy, Grambling State University (Grambling, LA)

I am SHIFting the narrative in the South by creating safe spaces that educate the HBCU campus community on effective HIV prevention strategies, aid in linking needs to care and treatment and empower HBCU students to be civic leaders on their campus and in their communities.

Shaquita Miles, The Women’s Collective (Washington, D.C.)

I change the narrative by being passionate. Through my influence and creativity, I reach and teach women who are HIV+ and vulnerable. I address social determinants and slowly, but with a touch of care, begin to address a woman’s status. How I can help them become more aware, educated about health and HIV and PrEP, and love themselves? I support women exactly where they are in their life. Empowering women that no matter your status is worth it. Be gentle and graceful with yourself. Advocate for oneself, and take control of your sexual health.

Tavianna Rouse, WeCare TN (Memphis, TN)

I am a leader in the mid-south area in Memphis. I work at the first Black trans-led organization that caters to Black trans women in sexwork and who use drugs. We have harm reduction practices that include HIV prevention testing and counseling.