Dear Friends -
Big changes are coming to Health GAP as we expand our leadership structure with Asia Russell assuming the role of the Executive Director and Jamila Headley joining Health GAP as the new Managing Director. We also want to say a big thank you to Jennifer Flynn for her years of leadership at Health GAP as she returns to VOCAL NY as their Executive Director. (Jennifer remains a core Health GAP board member.) Read more about Health GAP's new leaderships here.
When Health GAP started in 1999 only a handful of people living with HIV in the Global South had access to life saving HIV treatment, and only a few organizations were fighting to transform that unacceptable reality. Much has changed since those days. We have worked with partners around the world to win human-rights-based policies that have changed the global game on health and access to medicines. Today, more than 13 million people have access to HIV treatment and the newest science is showing us that we can end the AIDS crisis. Yet political will is still what stands between the millions still waiting for access and the life-saving treatment, care and prevention they need. In fact, lack of political will and broken promises on human rights, funding, and accountability mean ‘ending AIDS’ could become just one more empty slogan, rather than a reality.
Here at Health GAP, we’re thinking creatively about the kind of organization we need to become to take the fight forward into 2015 and beyond—that’s why we’re expanding our work in East and Southern Africa, gearing up for the 2016 elections in the U.S., and building our leadership structure to tackle new challenges.
We are especially excited that, going forward, we will have leaders based in two continents:
Asia Russell has been a leader in the fight against HIV for over 20 years, first as a community organizer and treatment activist in Philadelphia, and ultimately as part of the group who founded Health GAP in 1999, serving as our Director of International Policy. She is currently based in Uganda, where she works in coalition with local human rights, HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights, LGBTI organizations and other allies to win bold action by the Ugandan and donor governments on AIDS and health funding and policies, fight homophobic and stigmatizing laws, and to build the capacity of activist and other civil society networks. Asia is a 2008 recipient of the Keith Cylar Courage Award from Housing Works, the 2010 Kiyoshi Kuromiya Award from Philadelphia FIGHT, the 2011John M. Lloyd Leadership Award, and an award in 2011 from The AIDS Service Organization (TASO), Uganda for her exceptional contribution as an AIDS activist. As Executive Director, Asia will be responsible for strengthening and expanding Health GAP’s programmatic work, including in East and Southern Africa, while continuing to lead international policy campaigns that secure real change for communities.
Jamila Headley is a longtime ally and former core member of Health GAP, from the island of Barbados. Most recently, Jamila served as a Program Officer for the Accountability and Monitoring in Health Initiative and the Global Health Financing Initiative of the Public Health Program at Open Society Foundations (OSF). At OSF, she helped to lead the development of several new bodies of grant-making focused on strengthening civil society engagement in the development, implementation, and monitoring of national and donor governments’ health budgets. Prior to this, Jamila completed a PhD at Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Jamila has written and conducted research on the development of national and regional responses to the HIV epidemic in Barbados and the Caribbean, the impact of trade agreements on health policy and access to medicines, and the role of North-South civil society partnerships in influencing the policies and priorities of large global health donors. She is a 2006 recipient of the Vermont State Madeline Kunin Public Service Award for her commitment to social justice. Jamila will be based in the U.S., where she will manage Health GAP’s organizational and financial matters, while bringing her unique blend of knowledge and experience to key areas of Health GAP’s programmatic work.
Asia and Jamila will work together, along with Health GAP staffers and core members to execute a clear vision as we seek to eliminate the barriers to global access to life-sustaining medicines, including by expanding powerful, bold leadership by activists in East Africa and beyond.
Chair, Board of Directors
PS: During this exciting period of growth, we will be reaching out to partners in the fight for health justice—for guidance, brainstorming, and expanded collaboration. So expect to be hearing more from us soon!