A Letter from Erick, PCAF’s New Executive Director

With the end of my first month at PCAF, I feel called to say thank you – thank you to PCAF’s Board of Directors for putting their faith and trust in me and to PCAF’s staff and community for the very warm welcome. I look forward to getting to know Tacoma.

The first cases of what became known as HIV were reported when I was 10 years old. When I started coming out as a teenager, I experienced both the stigma of being gay and the stigma relating HIV to gay men. The virus has been a part of my life since then – in the communities I live in, the relationships I have, and in the volunteer and professional work I engage in.

For the past 16 years, my involvement in HIV has led me to many different corners of the work in volunteer, nonprofit and government settings: as a participant in HIV vaccine and prevention research studies, as a member and leader of various research community advisory boards, as a graduate of several leadership institutes, as an outreach worker, a technical assistance and training provider, a grant writer and reviewer, a conference planner, and much more. What I have learned from these experiences has been invaluable – most importantly in having built a foundation of compassion and justice into my leadership.

I’m thrilled and humbled to be in service to the clients, staff and community of Pierce County AIDS Foundation, and excited to put my skills and experiences to work for you.

I bring a commitment to social justice approaches, to working at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, faith, viral status and other categories. I have a strong belief in community engagement and leadership development, and I ground myself in a values-based approach based on compassion, justice, and love in action. After only a few weeks here at PCAF, I can tell I am in alignment with the organization and its values.

We still have a lot of work to do. PCAF’s continued success is about all of us working together to end this epidemic. It’s about showing how prevention and care can be effectively integrated. It’s about developing staff to be recognized national leaders in their field. It’s about building sustainable funding models for the work. It’s about combatting stigma on every level. Most importantly, it’s about ensuring that the people we serve live full, healthy lives no matter their viral status or what life experiences they have had.

Our mission reads, Pierce County AIDS Foundation, through education and service, prevents HIV infection, assists persons affected by HIV/AIDS, addresses related health problems, and combats stigma and discrimination. For all those who support our mission, thank you. For all those impacted in some way by this disease, we are here for you. For those ready to join us in the work, welcome. When we get to the end, with no new infections, with all those living with HIV disease getting the care they need, and with stigma eradicated, we can look back together and say, “we did it”.

Erick Signature