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News Briefs: AIDS grove in SF hires deputy director

by compiled by Cynthia Laird

Joe Garrett. Photo: Courtesy National AIDS Memorial Grove
Joe Garrett. Photo: Courtesy National AIDS Memorial Grove  

The National AIDS Memorial Grove has hired a local philanthropic leader as its new deputy director.

Joe Garrett started work about two weeks ago on a part-time basis, but expects to transition to full-time status soon. Garrett, a gay man, has experience with several other AIDS-related organizations.

John Cunningham, the grove's executive director, told the Bay Area Reporter that Garrett will "primarily focus on development."

"His influential voice in the AIDS movement and being a well-respected philanthropic leader will be a tremendous asset to our organization and mission," Cunningham said in a news release announcing Garrett's hiring.

Earlier this year, the grove announced that it's exploring a national museum to chronicle the story of the epidemic. At the time, Cunningham said that the grove would be embarking on a feasibility study, the results of which are expected in a couple months.

This week, Cunningham was asked if Garrett's hiring was to help raise money for the museum project.

"No, the position was created regardless" of the museum project, Cunningham said, adding that the feasibility study is being completed by an independent consulting group and that he needed someone like Garrett to help with various development projects.

Garrett, 59, said that his work in the AIDS field was always as a volunteer until now. He served as an adviser on major donors and board development at the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, which used to be the international arm of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is now its own program in Zimbabwe. He also served on the board of the Contra Costa AIDS Project back when AZT was the principal line of defense against the disease, and was board chair of Project Inform, which provides information on HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Garrett said that his goals "continue to be to grow the organization."

"I have a lot of experience with start-ups," he added.

The grove is currently involved in ramping up the HIV Story Project and is looking at additions to the memorial in Golden Gate Park, Garrett said.

In recent years, the grove has emphasized its national designation – it's the country's only federally recognized AIDS memorial – and Garrett said that is worth highlighting.

Cunningham said that the grove's annual operating budget is about $1.85 million. That figure includes about $100,000 the grove pays to the city of San Francisco each year to cover the cost of a gardener (salary and benefits) and additional funds it pays the city covering the infrastructure of the memorial. The grove does not seek public funding; it has always maintained that it did not want to take public dollars away from other HIV/AIDS programs, and Cunningham said that had been followed with the exception of a state grant the organization received years ago due to the work of former state lawmaker Carole Migden.

Garrett declined to state his salary. He lives in Berkeley with his husband, Spike Lomibao.


Larkin Street gets SFPOA grant

Larkin Street Youth Services received a $5,000 grant from the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

The SFPOA issues its community investment grant once a quarter; Larkin Street was the group's third quarter awardee, according to a news release from the association.

In the release, Larkin Street said it would use the grant to support YouthForce, its youth employment services program designed to provide youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco with an accelerated pathway to employment.

The SFPOA said applications are being accepted for its next grant round. Interested neighborhood nonprofit organizations can apply at


SF to end sale of flavored tobacco products

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has given final approval to an ordinance that will end the sale of flavored tobacco products – including menthol-flavored cigarettes – throughout the city and county. Mayor Ed Lee is expected to sign the measure into law. The legislation, introduced by District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, will go into effect April 1.

Groups advocating for the law praised its passage. They said that tobacco companies have aggressively marketed menthol-flavored tobacco products to African-Americans, often targeting youth. Tobacco companies have also aggressively marketed to the LGBT community over the years.

"With this decision, San Francisco has yet again raised the bar for public health policy around tobacco control and paved the way for communities considering similar measures in the Bay Area, California, and across the country," Dr. Alden McDonald III, president of the board for the Greater Bay Area Division of the American Heart Association, said in a statement.


Trans groups get city funding

San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Jane Kim have announced that groups serving the transgender community will receive over $1 million in funding in the city's new budget.

Ronen represents the Mission district, which has a large population of Latina trans women. Kim represents the Tenderloin and recently passed legislation to create the Compton's Transgender District there.

Funding to the trans community includes $375,000 to develop the new Compton's district; $470,000 to help current and recently incarcerated trans women; and $285,000 for workforce development for trans people.

"Transgender-run nonprofits have been doing incredibly impactful work without the kind of funding that other communities get from City Hall," Kim said in a news release. "This year we fought to change that."

Honey Mahogany, an organizer of the Compton's district, praised the funding.

"Jane Kim and Supervisor Ronen showed up for the trans community this year," she said in a statement. "We're excited to see these new funds to help preserve and grow the transgender community in San Francisco."




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