A Present Help. Meet Brandi Taylor of the SHIF 2023 Leadership Development Cohort

This Black History Month, the staff and board of trustees at AIDS United have deeply reflected on our unwavering commitment to racial justice, through our strategic priority of revitalizing the HIV workforce through strengthening  HIV leadership and organizations in the HIV sector, particularly in the Southern region. At the core of this commitment are the emerging leaders of the Southern HIV Impact Fund (SHIF) 2023 Leadership Development Cohort.

The Southern HIV Impact Fund (SHIF) Leadership Development 2023 Cohort is dedicated to nurturing emerging leaders under 40 spearheading efforts to combat the HIV epidemic in the South.

Through its service learning projects, this cohort has focused on various areas of opportunity: Networking and strategic communications, Public speaking and media training, Grant writing and fundraising, Management and administrative competencies, Self-care, Advocacy campaign development, Effective and impactful intersectional work, Integrating Racial Justice principles, Integrating meaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS (MIPA).

Brandi Taylor, the Victim Services Coordinator at Hope House Memphis, stands out as an exceptional cohort member. Brandi’s service learning project aimed to address the concerns of aging clients regarding wellness and access to information. Recognizing the evolving needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS as they age, Brandi initiated the design and dissemination of a new client survey.

Before conducting the survey, Brandi identified significant concerns surrounding the vitality and visibility of aging clients alongside prevalent issues such as stigma, loneliness, and isolation. Many older clients at Hope House Memphis reported grappling with challenges like isolation, dementia, decreased mobility, and other chronic illnesses via the survey.

Through developing and implementing the client survey, Brandi gained invaluable insights into the unaddressed needs of her aging clients. In response, Brandi organized a health fair to disseminate this crucial information, enabling clients to have their questions answered, receive essential health screenings, and access vaccinations.

“The pre-survey revealed that many of our aging clients lacked awareness about available resources, including essential matters such as power of attorney and various types of life insurance, Brandi Taylor said. The health fair served as a platform to deliver this vital information, enabling them to have their questions addressed and access crucial health screenings and vaccinations.”

For many aging clients, particularly those in housing subsidies beginning to experience cognitive impairments, the prospect of exploring senior living alternatives seemed daunting. However, Brandi’s unwavering dedication instilled hope in these individuals.

The health fair served as a comprehensive resource, offering information and assistance tailored to the concerns of aging clients. Specifically hosted for Ryan White enrolled members aged 55 and above, the event welcomed attendees eligible for Ryan White services, ensuring accessibility for all.

Featuring 12 participating vendors, including CSA, Aging Commission, CREA from the Family Safety Center, Spirit Health, Meritan, Charlotte & Pickens, ShotRX, TN Health Department, Alera Group, Excess Telecom, Community Chiro Care, and Parks Health Insurance, the health fair provided a diverse range of services and resources.

In addition to the vendors, a panel discussion comprising a licensed social worker, nutritionist and herbalist, HIV medical provider, and representatives from two community agencies serving the aging population addressed pressing concerns raised during pre-survey assessments. ShotRX provided complimentary health screenings and vaccinations, local restaurants offered refreshments, and businesses contributed to raffles and giveaways.

“Brandi’s service learning project vividly illustrates the significance of investing in emerging leaders and their innovative endeavors, said Clifford Castleberry, M.S., Southern HIV Impact Fund Program Associate. With just a $500.00 microgrant, Brandi launched a community health fair tailored to address the unique needs of the aging population, establishing it as a potential annual event. Her project highlights the crucial role of professional development and financial support in enabling aspiring leaders to implement initiatives that tackle vital community issues. As the Program Manager of the Southern HIV Impact Fund, dedicated to empowering the next generation of Southern leaders in the HIV workforce, I take pride in championing initiatives like Brandi’s.”

Brandi’s successes with the service learning project are undeniable. The overwhelmingly positive response from clients, staff, and community agencies underscores the impact of the aging health fair. Discussions have already begun regarding making it an annual event on a larger scale. Witnessing clients access the information and resources they need was truly inspiring.

This publication received support from Partnering and Communicating Together (PACT), a funded partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Division of HIV Prevention, and some of the nation’s leading organizations, including AIDS United, which represents the populations hardest-hit by HIV. Learn more at Let’s Stop HIV Together.

About the Southern HIV Impact Fund: Convened by Funders Concerned About AIDS in 2017 to coordinate and expand philanthropic efforts in the U.S. South, SHIF and its funding partners Gilead Sciences, ViiV Healthcare, and a generous anonymous donor have committed to working together to leverage their collective power to promote a more coordinated and effective response to the disproportionate impact of HIV in the U.S. South. SHIF is operated and staffed by AIDS United.