PCAF ANNOUNCES ACE ROBINSON AS NEW CEO

Robinson joins five other Black queer men in leading U.S. integrated HIV service organizations.

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TACOMA, WASHINGTON — Global HIV strategist and healthcare quality leader Ace Robinson, MHL, MPH (he/él), became chief executive officer of PCAF (formerly Pierce County AIDS Foundation) on July 14, 2022. PCAF is the South Puget Sound’s leading HIV organization, serving residents with the second-highest HIV incidence in Washington state. Robinson is the first Black queer/same-gender loving man to serve as CEO in PCAF’s 35-year history, and one of only six such men leading an integrated HIV service organization in the U.S

“Ace is respected nationally and well versed in policy and systems change, and I am beyond excited that he will be joining the HIV leadership of Washington state,” said Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) co-chair John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH. Wiesman formerly served as Washington State Secretary of Health. “Ace brings leadership that is laser focused on ensuring that prevention and treatment services reach the most underserved. He brings equal focus to ending the epidemic by addressing related infectious diseases, sexism, homophobia, racism, and housing security.”

Integrated HIV service organizations serve people affected by HIV in each region, rather than by risk category or identity, such as LGBTQ health centers, or centers specifically serving Black gay men. Black gay men are the most impacted subpopulation of people in the U.S. by both scope and scale. With this appointment, Robinson joins Tyler TerMeer (San Francisco AIDS Foundation), Brett Andrews (Positive Resource Center), Gabriel Maldonado (TruEvolution), Kirk Myers (Abounding Prosperity), Jesse Milan (AIDS United), and Stephen Lee (National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors) as national Black queer/same gender-loving men leading integrated HIV service organizations.

“Black communities are disproportionately impacted by HIV, making it essential that they have leadership representation in the fight to end the HIV epidemic,” said NASTAD’s Lee. “Ace’s vision and leadership will be instrumental in enabling PCAF to serve all people living with HIV in the greater Seattle/Tacoma region.”

Robinson’s expertise spans 20 years, starting at Fred Hutch, where he worked on HIV vaccine design in Sénégal, West Africa. Robinson served as principal architect of the End AIDS Washington State plan, which launched in 2014, and created ESCALATE, NMAC’s national stigma-elimination program, and ELEVATE, NMAC’s HIV workforce initiative. His thought leadership has guided HIV service organizations to align institutional structures in HIV health care management and delivery to support impacted individuals, populations, and communities.

He was a founding steering committee member of the Prevention Access Campaign’s Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U) public information campaign and a lead advocate for expanding awareness of the science behind U=U at the United Nations’ High Level Meeting. Robinson has also served in senior leadership roles at NMAC (formerly known as the National Minority AIDS Council) in Washington, D.C., Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in South Africa, Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in New York City.

Currently, Robinson co-chairs the Federal AIDS Policy & Partnership (FAPP), chairs Brown University’s Advisory Council to Eliminate Anti-Black Racism, and serves as a board member for several other organizations.

As CEO, Robinson plans to advance PCAF’s mission to assist people living with HIV to meet their holistic needs by addressing the non-medical reasons that people often disengage from HIV care. HIV medications are powerful enough to restore healthy immune function and prevent people with HIV from passing on the virus to others. He is committed to doing this work until all communities receive access to prevention and care. He still remembers a young Black lesbian client at an HIV program he worked
at in Philadelphia. She stopped taking her medications, he said, when the HIV stigma, sexism, racism, and homophobia she experienced became too much. Robinson called it a “passive suicide.”

“What happened to her is far too common,” Robinson said. “My primary goal is to strategically align resources within South Puget Sound and beyond to improve not only the HIV-related health but also the holistic wellbeing of our community. We will uplift the voices of excluded communities to provide new and innovative resources to dismantle the systemic structures that have prevented so many from achieving better health outcomes.”

WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT ACE ROBINSON’S APPOINTMENT
“Above all, Ace is a passionate person. He brings his passion to his values, his beliefs and importantly to our field. But whilst he cares passionately about the science, the clinical progress and the evidence, he cares most that if that science doesn’t benefit all people and especially people who need it most but are least likely to have access, then it is our job to advocate, activate and keep working until they do.”—Linda-Gail Bekker, past president of in the International AIDS Society and CEO of the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation, South Africa

“There are few HIV leaders who understand the nuances of HIV prevention, care and research from the local to the federal level.  There are even fewer HIV leaders who have worked in the domestic as well as global HIV response. Ace Robinson is one of those leaders and a rarity in our work who has worked the halls of Capitol Hill, the trenches at local and national US HIV care organizations, as well as on the ground in the HIV response in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ace Robinson is the best of us. I cannot wait to see the wonderful achievements and projects that will come to fruition as he flourishes in his new role at PCAF.”—Greg Millett, vice president and director of public policy, amfAR

“Ace has been a thought leader in the HIV movement for decades and I’m thrilled to see he is bringing his accumulated expertise, training, and experience to an integrated HIV service organization, where he can make real change in individual lives. His systems-level thinking about how to extend the benefits of biomedical HIV treatment and prevention to everyone impacted by HIV, their loved ones and communities is what the HIV movement has always needed. It is the essential next step in ending the epidemic.”—Toni Newman, interim director/CEO of Black AIDS Institute and PACHA member

“I’m delighted to congratulate PCAF on selecting Ace Robinson as its new CEO. Ace will bring his lived experience as a Black gay man, his wide-ranging expertise on all aspects of HIV prevention, treatment and care, and his years of work on HIV policy. Above all, he will bring his enduring commitment to people living with and vulnerable to HIV.  He is an inspired choice, and I look forward to welcoming him to the ranks of CEO.” —Jesse Milan, CEO of AIDS United

“I am so proud of PCAF for putting its mission to combat discrimination and stigma into action by appointing Ace to this well-deserved role. The local level is where big ideas, national priorities and funding translate to real-life access to everything that makes life worth living. PCAF knows this and has taken an important step.”—Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of TruEvolution, serving people affected by HIV in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, California

“Ace Robinson is a leader with the vision, experience and integrity needed to lead PCAF. I congratulate the PCAF Board of Directors for selecting such an outstanding national and international leader in HIV/AIDS. Ace has my unequivocal respect and support.” —E. Duane Wilkerson, MPH, MDiv, PCAF Executive Director 2007-2016.

“The wealth of knowledge and experience Ace brings with him will be a great addition to the fight against HIV in the South Sound. His focus on health equity, social justice, and fighting HIV-related stigma are right in line with PCAFs values.” —Erick Seelbach, PCAF Executive Director 2016-2021.

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About PCAF
Through education and service, PCAF prevents HIV infection, assists persons affected by HIV/AIDS, addresses related health problems, and combats associated stigma and discrimination. With offices in Tacoma and Olympia, PCAF serves Pierce, Thurston, and Lewis, and Mason counties. PCAF is dedicated to assisting persons living with HIV or AIDS to meet their non-medical needs for food, housing, healthcare, and personal support that can prevent people living with HIV from thriving. PCAF also provides extensive outreach, education and prevention programs including free HIV testing to help stop the spread of HIV and work to combat HIV related stigma. More information is available at www.pcaf-wa.org