Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Breaking news:
SFAF's Cloutier resigns


SFAF CEO Mark Cloutier, shown at last month's kickoff event for the agency's AIDS/LifeCycle fundraiser, has resigned. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
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The San Francisco AIDS Foundation announced Thursday, February 4 that its CEO, Mark Cloutier, has resigned.

"I've been here almost five years. I feel I've refocused the agency and expanded testing, particularly among gay men in the Castro, and it's time for me to move into the next phase of my career," Cloutier told the Bay Area Reporter in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

In addition to taking over Magnet, the gay men's health center in the Castro, SFAF also oversees the Stonewall Project, an agency that provides counseling for gay and bisexual men who use crystal methamphetamine.

Cloutier, 52, said the management team at SFAF is strong; the agency announced this week it had hired Bob Rybicki, a former executive director at Shanti, as its vice president for programs and services.

Cloutier's last day at SFAF is February 26. His departure comes as AIDS agencies are bracing for a difficult budget cycle with the city and the state facing fiscal deficits. The foundation has been a leader in the fight to prevent draconian cuts in AIDS services at the federal, state, and local level.

Cloutier said that he plans to take a month off, and then focus on career opportunities, most likely in the public health arena. He also has some consulting assignments lined up, he said.

While he would like to remain in the Bay Area, Cloutier did not rule out moving to Washington, D.C., where he said he is looking at employment possibilities. Those do not involve going to work for the Obama administration, he said.

The openly gay Cloutier is credited with moving SFAF to concentrate on evidence-based interventions for prevention and care and expanding HIV testing and services for communities in San Francisco at high risk of HIV infection.

Cloutier also oversaw the growth of the agency's annual fundraising event, the AIDS/LifeCycle bicycle ride that is held with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. The event started nine years ago under his predecessor, Pat Christian, after SFAF and the LA center broke with Dan Pallotta and his AIDS Rides. Just last month, Cloutier was at the annual kickoff event for this year's LifeCycle, set to take place in June.

SFAF's annual budget is $23 million.

"It's rare that someone has the opportunity to shape the future of an agency as important as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation," Cloutier said in a statement. "I'm very proud of our work and accomplishments over the past five years. As I take the next step in my professional career, which will expand to include other public health issues, I will always hold my experience here close to my heart."

The foundation's public policy efforts under Cloutier focused on strategies to make HIV testing more available in California and were instrumental in the work leading to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy adopted by President Barack Obama. SFAF recently developed a five-year strategic plan, setting it on course to radically reduce new infections in San Francisco and ensure access to proper care for every HIV-positive individual in the city.

Cloutier had also served as the interim CEO of Pangaea, the foundation's global AIDS initiative, after its former chief, Eric Goosby, left to work for the Obama administration as its global AIDS coordinator. Cloutier said that Ben Plumley, who is openly gay, just started work Monday as the CEO for Pangaea.

Prior to joining SFAF, Cloutier was executive director of Continuum, an HIV/AIDS service organization in the Tenderloin. That agency later merged with the former Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center and is now known as Tenderloin Health.

In addition to his nonprofit background, Cloutier also has over 25 years experience in public policy and legislative work, including as a former aide to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) when she was in the House of Representatives. Cloutier holds a master's degree in public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley.

The foundation announced that its vice president of development, Barbara Kimport, will serve as the interim CEO.

Kimport, 60, identifies as straight. A former senior vice president for financial development at the YMCA in San Francisco, she began work at the AIDS foundation four years ago. She told the B.A.R. that she does not plan to apply for the CEO position.

During this interim period, Kimport said she expects to continue with the foundation's strategic plan that Cloutier and the leadership team developed.

As for fundraising efforts, Kimport said that while last year some of the agency's donors "sat on the sidelines" because of uncertainty around the recession, this year has seen a return of donors.

"We're pleased with the pace of registration for the AIDS/LifeCycle and sponsors are back for the AIDS Walk," Kimport said.

A search is under way for Cloutier's replacement, led by Neil Sims at Boyden Global Executive Search.

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