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Mayor de Blasio Appoints Six Members to the HASA Board

June 2, 2016

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the appointment of six new members to the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) Advisory Board. HASA is a program administered by the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA). New appointments include community organizers and individuals from the private, public and non-profit sectors. They will be joining five members previously appointed by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The new members will be responsible for formulating and recommending to the HRA Commissioner policies and procedures for overseeing and monitoring the delivery of services to persons with clinical and symptomatic HIV illness or AIDS. The board will be chaired by Guillermo Chacón.

“The individuals appointed today have garnered years of experience as community organizers and professionals in the public, private and non-profit sectors, and have effectively served and advocated for people with HIV/AIDS for many years. Under Guillermo Chacón’s leadership, I am confident they will continue to ensure that New Yorkers receive the services and support they need as we act to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York. I look forward to their work on the HASA Board,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“The collective expertise of these individuals will provide critical assistance for the Department of Social Services as we continue our mission to provide low-income New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS and their families the support they need to live healthier and independent lives,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “We welcome them and look forward to leveraging their vast experience and knowledge to benefit our client community.”

About the Appointments:
Guillermo Chacón will serve as Chair of the Board. He is the President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, where he has served in various roles since 1995. Under his leadership, the Commission has invested in community mobilization programs, including the AIDS Leadership Coalition (ALC) and Setting the Agenda Coalition. The Commission's ALC encourages CBOs serving Latino communities to develop an agenda of the top health policy issues affecting the health of Latinos in New York City. The Commission also directs community mobilization through National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). NLAAD was launched by the Commission in partnership with the Hispanic Federation in 2003 to promote HIV prevention and AIDS awareness activities that target Latino families each year on October 15th. Chacón immigrated to the United States in 1983 after the civil war began in El Salvador. He studied education at the National University of El Salvador and attended Fordham University.

Pamela Brier has worked in New York City health care services for over 35 years, including 15 years in senior roles at the Health and Hospitals Corporation (now NYC Health + Hospitals). In 1995, she became the Executive Vice President of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and from 2003 to her retirement in January 2016 she served as President and CEO. From 1995 to 2002, Brier served as the Board Chair of Housing Works, Inc., one of the country’s largest housing and advocacy agencies focused on serving homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Brier was a founding member and a Vice Chair of the Board of the NY eHealth Collaborative. Brier currently is a senior advisor to the President of Hunter College where she also oversees the Mental Health Service Corps, a project of ThriveNYC. Brier is also a member of the New York City Board of Health and the NYC Fund for Public Health, and a visiting fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine. Brier holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s in Health Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Maria Davis has been the CEO of M.A.D. Wednesdays and Can’t Be Silenced since 1988. As CEO of M.A.D. Wednesdays, Davis provided a platform for New Talent, helping artist to refine their skills to enhance their stage presence and performance. She also was a Bronx-based hip-hop promoter for rappers Jay-Z and Puff Daddy. Since 1995, Davis has been a speaker and educator on HIV/AIDS issues since 1995. Her non-profit, Can’t Be Silenced, encourages individuals to get tested for HIV/AIDS and learn safe-sex practices. Davis also raises funds for AIDS research by participating in the GMHC AIDS Walk New York and volunteers her time in her own community raising AIDS awareness among people of color. In addition, Davis works closely with Manhattan and especially Harlem-based organizations such as the First Corinthian Baptist Church Imani HIV/AIDS Health Ministry. Davis regularly speaks to educators, health care providers, HIV/AIDS patients, ministers and social workers regarding HIV/AIDS awareness, and has been the keynote speaker for the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

Ericker Phillips-Onaga is the Chief Program Officer at Project Hospitality in Staten Island. Philips-Onaga has worked at Project Hospitality for over 20 years serving in various roles, including Senior Deputy Executive Director of Programs, Program Coordinator of the Housing Placement Assistance Program – HIV Services, and Program Coordinator of the Family Supported Housing Program – Family Services. Most of her experience has focused on working with individuals with HIV/AIDS. In her current capacity, she is responsible for administering over a dozen HIV programs and has a wealth of experience on issues faced by low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS. Phillips-Onaga holds a B.A. in Sociology and African American Studies from the College of Staten Island. She also holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University and is a Licensed Master Social Worker registered with the State of New York.

Nydja Wages is the President of Najore, LLC., a fashion design and retail company she started in 2011. Between 2004 and 2007, Wages was a Live Coach at Gramercy House in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, she worked one-on-one with clients and provided weekly group and individual therapy classes while also conducting monthly home visits. From 2000 to 2003, Wages was a Junior Counselor at VIP Community Services, a methadone maintenance center in the Bronx. Her duties included overseeing the coordination of all ACS, criminal justice, housing, medical and vocational needs of individuals. Wages also was a Substance Abuse Counselor at United Bronx Parents, where she was responsible for assessment, intake, counseling, referral, and periodic case support for various individuals. Wages began her career in 1996, as a Substance Abuse Counselor and Case Manager at the Daytop Village Adolescent Outpatient Program in Brooklyn.

Jawanza Williams is the LGBT Youth Organizer for VOCAL-NY, an organization focused on uplifting low-income individuals affected by HIV/AIDS, the drug war and mass incarceration. Williams was recently honored in the True Colors Fund "40 of the Forty" list, highlighting LGBTQ youth who have experiences with homelessness and provides them opportunities to be engaged in our work nationally and within their home communities. Williams holds a B.A. in English from Schreiner University.

"It is an absolute honor to be recognized by Mayor de Blaiso and to serve as a member of the HASA advisory board. As a person who has lived in the HASA shelter system, I know how difficult life can be when you are homeless and trying to manage your health. Centering the voices of those directly impacted by government policies is critical to building a city that works for everyone - thank you to the de Blasio administration for the opportunity," said Jawanza Williams, Youth Organizer at VOCAL-NY.

“These individuals have made extraordinary contributions in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “By joining the HASA Advisory Board, they will be continuing their tremendous service to the people of this City. HASA is an extremely important agency that assists some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. I look forward to working with each of these individuals to ensure the well-being of all New Yorkers who rely on HASA’s lifesaving benefits. I want to thank these appointees for answering this call to duty, and Mayor de Blasio for his excellent selections.”

“I am confident that this HASA Board will show great leadership to help end the epidemic of HIV/AIDS and ensure that all city residents have access to the medical care and services they need to live with dignity. Health is a human right,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee.

"I commend Mayor de Blasio on his recent appointments to the HASA Board. Given their professional and personal experiences in the fight against HIV/AIDS, I am confident that they will make a difference,” said C. Virginia Fields, President and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. and former Manhattan Borough President.

"We are thrilled to see Mayor de Blasio’s new appointments to the HASA Advisory Board. Housing Works has had the privilege of working closely with several of these appointees, and we are grateful to have their voices represent us. They are individuals with years of experience as advocates and service providers who have committed themselves to making NYC a more just and supportive environment for people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works.

“On behalf of Harlem United’s over 16,000 clients, I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for appointing these dedicated and diverse advocates to HASA’s Advisory Board. With Guillermo Chacón’s leadership as Chair, we are even more confident that the critical needs of people living with HIV and AIDS throughout New York City will be met and protected. Their service will help guide us to our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic in our city,” said Jacquelyn Kilmer, Esq. CEO of Harlem United.

“HASA is an important program, providing critical benefits, housing assistance and other services needed by those living with and impacted by HIV and AIDS," said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. "With new HIV infection rates stalled at 50,000 each year in America, New York needs strong HASA leaders who understand the realities of the epidemic, and will fight for comprehensive solutions that increase awareness, improve care by removing barriers to treatment like housing and eliminate stigma. GMHC congratulates the six new members on their appointment to the Board and looks forward to working together to achieve New York’s collective goal of ending the epidemic by 2020.”

About the HIV/AIDS Services Administration Advisory Board (HASA):
HIV/AIDS benefits, housing assistance and other services are administered by the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), part of the HRA’s Office of Special Services. HASA expedites access to essential benefits and social services needed by persons with AIDS or clinical symptomatic HIV illness and their families. The Board’s role is advisory and does not make policy recommendations regarding the distribution of city funds, grants or contracts. The Advisory Board is charged with formulating and recommending to the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services policies and procedures for overseeing and monitoring the delivery of services to persons with clinical/symptomatic HIV illness or AIDS, which may include quality assurance measurements. The Advisory Board shall submit such recommended policy or procedure to the Mayor and the Council upon submission to the Commissioner.

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