John Cunningham has been named to be the new Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco. Cunningham will officially take over the role on April 1, 2009.
“We are very, very happy about John coming on board as the new Executive Director,” stated Grove Board co-chair Marsha Raulston. “With both his wealth of experience and his awareness of the breadth of issues affecting those affected by and living with HIV, we are certain John will be an asset to the Grove and its mission.” Raulston continued “We did a national search for this position and out of the hundreds of applicants, many of whom were tremendously qualified for the job, John emerged as the clear choice for the agency.”
Late in 2004, breaking from its past organizational structure, the organization’s board, in an effort to reduce costs, eliminated the Executive Director position. Since then, the organization has relied on a single paid employee and the efforts of its dedicated volunteers.
“Having tried that approach for more than four years,” commented Gina Gatta, the Grove Board co-chair, “the board, after deliberate and careful planning, recently decided to re-institute the position of Executive Director. We know that, if we want this amazing memorial to be maintained and to continue, we need someone whose primary role is to not just focus on fundraising efforts, but more so to increase awareness of the National AIDS Memorial.”
According to Gatta and Raulston, one of the principal objectives for the new Executive Director will be to grow the memorial’s endowment to a level sufficient to ensure that the National AIDS Memorial Grove is maintained in perpetuity to inform future generations about the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic.
“John brings over 14 years of HIV-related work experience,” remarked Margarita Gandia, Board member and co-chair for the National AIDS Memorial Grove’s 2009 World AIDS Day Observance, “and in a number of capacities — as a board member, staff, volunteer, supporter and even advocate. One of the challenges any new Executive Director here would face would be how we maintain our relationship to our roots in San Francisco as we seek to make the National AIDS Memorial Grove more representational nationally. John is clearly well-suited to this task.”
“I am honored to have the opportunity to assume the Executive Director’s position for the National AIDS Memorial Grove” stated John Cunningham. “It is humbling to have been given the opportunity to be the steward of this powerful and personal memorial. I am struck by the fact that the AIDS Memorial Grove, which started out as a grass roots effort, today remains an entity that relies upon the generosity of the community, because without their help we would not be here. I look forward to working to ensure The National AIDS Memorial Grove will always be available to all who seek to remember and to grieve and to begin to find healing.”