Success Stories!

Honoring the memories of those we
have lost and those affected by HIV/AIDS.

By sharing the story of the struggle against HIV/AIDS, we remember, in perpetuity, the lives lost, we offer healing and hope to survivors, and we inspire new generations of activists in the fight against stigma, denial, and hate, for a just future.

Tom Raffin

Co-Chair

Tom joined the Board in 2015 and serves on the site and development committees.

Mike Richey

Co-Chair

Mike has been deeply involved in HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic

Tom Jensen

Vice Chair

Tom began volunteering at the Grove in 2000, and joined the Board in 2014

Barbara Maury

Secretary

Barbara joined the Board in 2019

Blake Spears

treasurer

Blake joined the Board in 2015

Eric C. Ciasullo

Board Member

Eric joined the Board in 2011, and serves on the communications and governance committees

Dan Dodd

Board Member

Dan joined the Board in in 2019

Leslie Ewing

Board Member

Leslie joined the Board in 2020

Joshua Gamson

Board Member

Joshua joined the Board in 2018

Seth Hammac

Board Member

Seth joined the Board in 2013 and serves as co-chair on the volunteer committee

Carlin Paige Holden

Board Member

Carlin joined the Board in 2012 and serves on the communications and site committees

Paul Scott

Board Member

Paul joined the Board in 2020

Antwan Matthews

Board Member

Antwan joined the Board in 2020

Lonnie Payne-Clark

Board Member

Lonnie joined the Board in 2020

Beth Ross

Board Member

Beth joined the Board in 2019

Sara Schwartz

Board Member

Sara joined the Board in 2018

Daniel Tovbin

Board Member

Daniel joined the Board in 2019

Annie Wilson

Board Member

Annie Joined The Board Of The National AIDS Memorial Grove In 2018

Tom Raffin, Co-Chair

Tom joined the Board in 2015 and serves on the site and development committees. He is currently a senior partner and co-founder (2001)of the healthcare private equity firm Telegraph Hill Partners in San Francisco and worked closely with LDR Spine, Pneum Rx, AngioScore, Freedom Innovations, Vidacare and Estech. In 1999 he joined the Board of NewLink Genetics (NASDAQ:NLNK) a cancer immunotherapy and vaccine (Ebola) company and is currently the Lead Director. In 1996 he co-founded the biotech company Rigel Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RIGL). After completing medical school at Stanford University, Tombegan his medical career as an internal medicine resident at the Brigham & Women’s, a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston. He returned to Stanford for Fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Tom spent 28 yearson the faculty at Stanford University Medical School as the Colleen and Robert Haas Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Ethics. He was Chief of the Divisionof Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Medicine; and, co-founded and directed the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics. Tom was an active clinician, teacher and investigator. He was the Associate Director of the Intensive Care Units. He had over 300 publications and co-authored the book Intensive Care: Facing the Critical Choices. In 1982 Tom founded the Stanford University Asia-Medical Fund to bring outstanding fellows from the Pacific Rim to be trained in research at Stanford for at least one year, and to then return to their home institutions (75 fellows as of 2014). In 2014 Tom was presented with the Stanford Medical School Alumni of the YearAward. 

“I am honored to be involved with the National AIDS Memorial.  I am connected most to the Grove, a remarkable, spiritual, life celebrating, and beautiful part of Golden Gate Park, where some of my past loving friends now reside in the Circle of Friends. The Grove reminds me of caring for patients with AIDS at Stanford, writing about end of life decision-making in AIDS patients, and thinking about future approaches to enhance education and meaning.” 

Learn more about Tom  

Mike Richey, Co-Chair

Mike has been deeply involved in HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, having lost two life partners and so many dear friends during the dark period from 1983-2000. On a professional level, Mike was part of the team that completed the research and published findings that demonstrated that the level of HIV was directly correlated with progression to AIDS and death. This finding lead to the introduction of the first HIV viral load test which accompanied the launch of protease inhibitors and changed the outcome for so many patients struggling with HIV disease and has resulted in HIV becoming a manageable chronic disease and no longer an immediate death sentence. 

“To me, the National AIDS Memorial has served as a place of solace, peace and remembrance. The Grove has also become a place where I have found deep connection, love and joy as I have shared many a memorable afternoon with the beautiful people who celebrate life together during the Flagging in the Park events each year. As a member of the Board, I am helping bring more focus on expanding the reach of our important mission to ensure that our loved ones are never forgotten and that we have places to gather to celebrate their lives for generations to come.”

Tom Jensen, Vice Chair

Tom began volunteering at the Grove in 2000, three weeks after the death of his partner, Bobby Hilliard. In 2004 Tom was invited to join the Board. Tom has also volunteered with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, helping to develop its first National AIDS Hotline syllabus under Chuck Frutchey and Ken Jones, and at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California.

Tom is currently a digital consultant for Wells Fargo Virtual Channels Digital group. Tom was born in Hollywood and raised in the canyons of Los Angeles, California. He has explored nearly every state west of the Mississippi, the Northeast U.S., Canada, and parts of Mexico. 

He moved to San Francisco on November 27, 1978. That evening Tom witnessed the first spontaneous Candlelight March in San Francisco, which affirmed his move to San Francisco and ignited his involvement in community activism. 

“I am honored to again sit on the memorial’s board of directors, and I renew my continued commitment to steward both the memorial’s physical landscape and its mission ‘to provide…a place of remembrance so that…the story is known by future generations’.” 

Learn more about Tom

Barbara Maury, secretary

Barbara joined the Board in 2019. Originally from the east coast she and her partner of 25 years moved to San Francisco in 2006. In 1983 Barbara obtained her BS and RN from Willian Patterson College (now a University) in Wayne, NJ. She was thrust into the HIV/AIDS epidemic in her first job at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC. As a bedside nurse, she observed and cared for many people living and dying from HIV/AIDS. During this time she helped start the dedicated HIV/AIDS in-patient unit at Mt Sinai Hospital. In 1991, Barbara accepted a position at the Mt Sinai Jack Martin Fund Clinic where working with a dedicated HIV physician and social worker they followed a panel of HIV infected individuals from diagnosis to inpatient to outpatient, helping individuals make end of life decisions, coordinating safe discharges, home care services and helping families and friends cope with caring for someone withHIV/AIDS. 

In 1997, Barbara obtained her MS, ANP from College of Mount SaintVincent in Riverdale, NY and accepted a position with Village Center for Care a certified home health agency that provided home care services to people living with HIV/AIDS. In this role, she managed a Ryan White Grant that supported a hospital liaison at Saint Vincent Hospital in Greenwich, NYC. In 1998, she and her partner moved to Providence, RI. Here Barbara worked for the Visiting NurseAssociation of Southeast Massachusetts as HIV consultant. She provided education and support to visiting nurses and managed a Massachusetts Department of Public Health Grant that provided homemaking services to people living with HIV/AIDS. In this role she worked closely with the AIDS Consortiums of Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford and Brockton.

After moving to San Francisco, Barbara was a manager for the homecare department at Sutter and then UCSF. She worked for USCF for 10 years and retired in January of 2019. 

“I am honored to be involved with the National AIDS Memorial. Being involved with the Grove reminds me of caring for people living with HIV and AIDS and feels like I have come full circle. It feels good to be back working with compassionate and caring individuals. I look forward to helping shape the future of the National AIDS Memorial.”

Blake Spears, Treasurer

Blake joined the Board in 2015. Although born and raised in Virginia, Blake has lived in the San Francisco area for over 40 years. His professional experience includes 25 years as a market research consultant to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries for his own firm, InSight Healthcare Consulting. His career also includes working for the US Environmental Protection Agency. He brings over 20 years of non-profit board experience, 14 of which have been with Matri Compassionate Care, an HIV hospice in San Francisco. He also sits on the Oakland City Commission on Aging, the board of The Second Opinion (free second opinions for cancer patients) and previously on the board of the HIV Story Project. His background includes degrees in chemical engineering and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2013 he married Lanz Lowen, his partner of 39 years. 

“I wanted to join the Board of the National AIDS Memorial because it represents a living memorial to so many who have passed, and I want to see that their memories are sustained. I also feel that the memorial represents an excellent chance to provide education and HIV awareness for current and future generations.”

Eric C. Ciasullo, board member

Eric joined the Board in 2011, and serves on the communications and governance committees.  In addition, he is the project lead for the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship program. Eric has been an AIDS activist and youth advocate for more than 25 years, working alongside and on behalf of homeless, queer and HIV positive youth as a mentor, counselor, program director and public health administrator focused on housing, mental health, and youth leadership development programs. In addition, while at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Eric directed a project maximizing employment and rehabilitation opportunities for people with HIV/AIDS entering/re-entering the workforce in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Eric has been actively involved in service within the non-profit and public sectors since arriving in the Bay Area in 1989.  He has held leadership positions on the San Francisco Delinquency Prevention Commission, the California State Rehabilitation Council, various HIV/AIDS advisory bodies, and the boards of directors of organizations such as STOP AIDS, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the Lavender Youth and Recreation Center (LYRIC). Eric was a co-founder of the National Working Positive Coalition, and served as president of the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA). He holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. 

“I serve on the Board of the National AIDS Memorial because I believe that the AIDS pandemic was a profound and avoidable tragedy that must never be repeated.  I want my friends remembered, and our history of everyday heroism told to future generations.” 

Learn More About Eric

Dan Dodd, board member

Dan joined the Board in in 2019.  Dan first learned of the National AIDS Memorial when he was invited to attend Light in the Grove several years ago.  Immediately he was moved into action and began to sponsor future Light in the Grove events.  A long-time supporter of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and nine-year participant in the AIDS/Lifecycle charity bike ride, Dan has always had a calling to support those we have lost and those affected by HIV/AIDS. 

Dan is a Bay Area native originally from Santa Rosa.  He spent the first part of his professional life in retail management with The Good Guys consumer electronics company. After retiring from the retail arena Dan went to work for Sprint PCS where he was a Business Sales Manager in the Silicon Valley and then on to Director of Retail Sales for Southern California.  Dan hung up his corporate suit in 2004 and has been a top producing Realtor in San Francisco ever since. 

“I am privileged to be involved with the National AIDS Memorial.  Honoring the memories of those we have lost and those affected by HIV/AIDS.  I am blessed to be counted among those who are also a part of this wonderful organization”

Leslie Ewing, board member

Leslie joined the Board in 2020. She is a longtime resident of the Berkeley/Oakland area who has dedicated much of her life to LGBTQ civil rights. In 2019, she retired as Executive Director of the Pacific Center in Berkeley, the oldest LGBTQ+ center in the BayArea (and third oldest in the nation), offering vibrant youth programs, peer groups, counseling and psychotherapy, serving more than 3,000 people at four locations throughout Alameda County. Leslie served as the Center’s Executive Director for over a decade, helping the organization to grow, evolve and better meet the needs of the thousands who benefit from its services. 

In the 1980s, Leslie co-founded the ACT-UP affinity group Queer and Present Danger. In 1987, she joined other activists as they developed the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt into a national expression of both rage and reconciliation. She helped coordinate volunteers for displays of the Quilt in Washington D.C. for five years, then stepped back from that role to work on the national steering committee for the 1993 March on Washington, which drew over 800,000 activists. Leslie and many others were arrested at the march, and her relationship with activism was forever changed. 

During some of the most challenging times of the HIV epidemic, Leslie went on to lead the AIDS Emergency Fund as its volunteer Board President/Executive Director and later was a founder of the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. For six years, she served as the buyer at Under One Roof, a beloved non-profit gift store in the Castro which raised over two million dollars for local AIDS organizations. She served as the Development Director of Lyon-Martin Health Services prior to becoming Executive Director at Pacific Center in 2008. 

A lifelong cartoonist, Leslie’s strip Mid-Dyke Crisis ran in numerous LGBTQ periodicals from 1985 to 2001, including Wimmen’s Comix, Gay Comix, The Bay Area Reporter, The Lesbian News, Bay Times, and many others. 

Learn more about Leslie

Joshua Gamson, board member

Joshua joined the Board in 2018. He is currently Professor of Sociology and Academic Assistant Dean at the University of San Francisco. He was involved with ACT UP and AIDS activism in the late 1980s and early 1990s; his first exposure to the Grove, some thirty years later, was through ACT UP friends who had become involved in the Grove leadership. He first became directly involved with the National AIDS Memorial as an ethnographer in 2015, as a Fellow at Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, researching how the organization and its members do “collective memory” work and how the Grove manages the multiple, ongoing stories of AIDS. Josh received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and spent the first nine years of his teaching career at Yale University. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Josh is the author of four books, including The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, The Music, The Seventies in San Francisco, and many scholarly and non-scholarly articles on topics ranging from celebrity culture to unconventional family creation to LGBT movements. He lives in Oakland with his husband and their two children, Reba and Maddy, who can be seen on occasional workdays picking weeds and raking. 

“I joined the Board of the National AIDS Memorial because it is and can be a crucial container for the stories of AIDS. I believe those stories are crucial for healing, honoring the spirits of those we have lost, and understanding our present and our future. I see the Grove as unique model for memorializing that bridges past, present, and future.” 

Learn More About Josh

Seth Hammac, board member

Seth joined the Board in 2013 and serves as co-chair on the volunteer committee. Additionally, he has been a workday volunteer since 2006. Seth discovered the Grove through Hands On Bay Area. Another community service organization that he has been a project leader since 2005. Seth’s connection to the AIDS pandemic is even more personal. His dad’s name, Wayne Hammac, was inscribed in the Circle of Friends after he passed away in 2004. Seth brings the perspective to the Board of someone whose life was touched by a parent who lived for 17 years with HIV. When he isn’t pulling weeds or blackberries in the Grove, Seth can be found working a day job in sales in the technology and advertising space. He has worked for several start-ups and larger companies like Microsoft & Google. 

“I discovered the Grove through my Dad’s name being inscribed in the Circle of Friends. I found an amazing community that is committed to helping people heal and grow through understanding. I am honored to help the memorial transform itself to meet the changing face of the AIDS Epidemic.” 

Learn more about Seth

Carlin Paige Holden, board member

Carlin joined the Board in 2012 and serves on the communications and site committees, co-chairing the latter. She has been a workday volunteer since 1993, worked on the waterfall restoration project, and on the committee for the first Light in the Grove. Before retirement, Carlin’s career ranged from teaching sociology at Oregon State University to running her own garden maintenance business in San Francisco. In the late 1980s, Carlin volunteered with Shanti Project. In the early 1990s she volunteered with The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, most notably as Emotional Support Volunteer Coordinator for the 1993 display in Washington D.C. She is currently active with several public gardening and improvement projects and serves as treasurer of the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association. 

“I serve on the Board of Directors of the National AIDS Memorial because I have been part of the transformation of the Grove from a derelict eyesore to a beautiful oasis. I want to bring the depth of that connection to the tasks of how we will step more fully into our national status and accomplish our mission of ‘making the story known to future generations.’” 

Learn more about Carlin

Paul scott, board member

Paul joined the Board in 2020. He is a native of Jackson, Mississippi and received his Bachelor of Arts from Emory University and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Georgia. He practiced civil litigation for nine years and then became an advocate for both people with HIV and LGBT persons after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1989. He has served in the nonprofit sector for twenty-five years and as a nonprofit executive for twenty-one years.  

Paul currently is Vice President of Engagement for Vivent Heath, a national HIV health organization. He served as CEO and President of AIDS Services of Austin for ten years prior to its merger with Vivent Health in 2020. Previously, he has served as the Executive Director of Equality Texas and Equality Texas Foundation, Resource Center of Dallas, and CEMPA (formerly Chattanooga CARES).  Paul currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Pride Impact Funds, a statewide LGBTQ community foundation and Best Single Source Plus, an Austin collaborative focusing on ending homelessness.  He serves on several state and local advocacy and planning bodies. He has served on national boards of the Equality Federation and the Equality Federation Institute and board member of Center Link, the national association of LGBT community centers.  

He and his husband Scott have lived in Austin since 2006. He spends his spare time kayaking on the Blanco River with dachshunds Lily and Poppy, playing piano, and reading historical biographies.

“I believe we have a responsibility to steward the beautiful legacies of advocacy, perseverance, and hope of the people we have lost to AIDS and the persons living today with HIV. The National AIDS Memorial is committed to that stewardship, and I am so appreciative to be part of this work.”

Learn more about Paul.

Antwan Matthews, board member

Antwan is a graduate with a degree in Biology from Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS. Antwan is currently serving as the HIV Navigator at GlideSF, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco. Throughout his undergraduate work, Antwan created a student-led health organization Peer HEALTH Educators to redefine the philosophy of health in communities of color. He served as several different scholars in undergraduate, such as the Brown-Tougaloo Scholar where he studied at both institutions to attain his bachelor’s degree. Antwan’s overall objectives are to continue his education in public health, law, and medicine to create holistic approaches to meld social determinants and medicine for positive outcomes in marginalizing populations. 

“I wanted to join the National AIDS Memorial’s board because the Grove is family and has provided me an opportunity to foster my professional development through exposure. Coming to San Francisco to speak in 2017 for World AIDS Day, after returning to Mississippi, I started to research HIV research and found the SHARP Program at the SF Department of Public Health for summer 2018. After the internship, I decided to stay in the Bay Area to pursue my professional career in Public Health. This all stemmed from speaking at World AIDS Day in 2017 – the Grove gave me hope and the ability to continue to believe in myself. I want to add to the legacy the Grove gave to me.” 

Learn More about Antwon

Lonnie Payne-Clark, board member

Lonnie joined the Board in 2020. He is a 67-year-old gay African American male living in Napa with his husband, Bruce Clark. Lonnie earned a bachelor’s degree in voice performance from the University of South Carolina. He completed coursework for a master’s degree in music, with an emphasis in opera, from Northwestern University. Following his studies, Lonnie joined AT&T where he enjoyed an 18-year career, the majority of his work focused on partnering and consulting business customers to promote AT&T products and services. He has served as a board member and board chair of both the SanFrancisco AIDS Foundation and the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation. 

Lonnie is a long-time survivor of AIDS. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 along with his life Partner, Joel Swandby. His identical twin, Lawrence, and his partner, Timothy, were also diagnosed at the same time. By1996, all three were dead from AIDS. Lonnie received his AIDS diagnosis in 1995 with an approximate life expectancy of two years. By 1997, he should have been dead. Thanks to medical advances, he is still alive. 

Lonnie practiced his own unique brand of AIDS Activism for more than two decades, with the goal of putting a face and a story on this horrific disease. He also wanted to make a difference by stewarding AIDS organizations whose goals were to make an impact on the lives of people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS. 

“HIV/AIDS has not disappeared. In this fourth decade of HIV/AIDS, it is now time for me to actively work on assuring that the lives, and the stories, of many remarkable people who died from AIDS, and of the people who administered, nurtured, and showed unwavering compassion to our family members, are not forgotten. That their special "lights" will not be forgotten. That their relatives and friends are given lasting opportunities to remember and relive the uniqueness of their stories/histories — to share their amazing lights. That is why I am now a board member of the National AIDS Memorial.” 

LearnMore About Lonnie

Beth Ross, board member

Beth joined the Board in 2019. Beth is a nationally recognized labor and employment lawyer and an amateur quilter and gardener. Her first exposure to the Grove was as a visitor and mourner, having lost a close family member to HIV/AIDS in the early 1990s. As a member of the San Francisco LBGQI community since the early 1980s, she bore witness to the unfolding of the international AIDS crisis in real-time and was profoundly affected by it. She has participated in volunteer workdays and served as a host for Light in the Grove in honor of former Board Chair Mike Shriver. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988 and a Bachelor of Arts in Letters from Wesleyan University in 1983. 

“It is an honor to be a member of the National AIDS Memorial Board and to have the opportunity to participate in the important project of memory, defiance and courage.”

Sara Schwartz, board member

Sara joined the Board in 2018. Born and raised in NorthernVirginia, she migrated to the West Coast in October 2001. Sara earned a Master of Social Work Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2001 and a PhD in Social Work Research from Portland State University in 2007. She relocated to the Bay Area for a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare in 2007. Sara currently holds the appointment of Clinical Assistant Professor in The University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, teaching virtually from her home in Marin County. In addition to her work in academia, Sara plays a role in philanthropic grant making through her position as Vice President of Research and Evaluation at Kramer, Blum and Associates in San Francisco. Sara has been an advocate and volunteer in the HIV/AIDS arena for over 20 years, most recently as a board member of The HIV Story Project. 

“I am honored to sit on the board of the National AIDS Memorial and use my skills to make certain that the stories of individuals, families and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS continue to be remembered, recorded and shared with future generations.”

Daniel Tovbin, board member

Daniel joined the Board in 2019. Born and raised in New York City, he moved to San Francisco to work as a technology investor. He earned a degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University, where he spent three years researching HIV at the Yale School of Medicine. He had previously conducted research on cancer-related genetic mutations and was published in several medical journals (Nature Medicine, Blood & Leukemia). 

His passion for community service and volunteerism started at a young age. As a teenager, he traveled to Belize and Bangladesh as part of U.S. State Department sponsored leadership programs to evaluate the effects of climate change on rural populations and develop effective strategies for sustainability. He later volunteered at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC to help with patient care and comfort. He is excited to combine his scientific interests and love for social activism to help mold the future of the National AIDS Memorial Grove and the impact it will have on generations to come.

“I am honored to be involved with an organization that spreads such a beautiful message of warmth and inclusivity. I am looking forward to helping the memorial continue to provide a haven and place of remembrance for the community.”

Annie Wilson, board member

Annie joined the Board of the National AIDS Memorial in 2018. 

A San Francisco native, Annie has been going to the National AIDS Memorial since she was a young child, volunteering at workdays and joining her parents at other Grove events. At the age of 13, Annie became a co-chair to the World AIDS Day Observances at the Grove from 2008 to 2011, assisting in youth engagement and perspective. In 2012, she received the Young Leaders Scholarship, now known as the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship

Annie graduated Cum Laude from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) in June of 2017 with a BS in Financial Management and a minor in Law in Society. In her professional career, Annie is an Associate Event Marketing Manager at Splunk, a machine data analytics software company in San Francisco. Within this role, Annie focuses on communications, marketing, and analytics for the corporate events team. She also serves on the professional advisory board for the Cal Poly Women in Business Association. When she’s out of the office, you can typically find Annie at Fort Funston with her dog, Dexter, or spending time with her friends and family in Dolores park. 

“I joined the Board of Directors to help support the young community of HIV/AIDS advocates and give voice to all of the amazing work that young people are doing. The Grove has been a very special place for me fora long time, and I am consistently inspired by the friends I’ve met —especially the young advocates — and feel very fortunate for the opportunity to sit on the Board.”

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Our work helps ensure that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the story of AIDS is known by future generations - so that never again will a community be harmed because of fear, silence, discrimination, or stigma.