SFAF appoints new CEO

  • by Seth Hemmelgarn
  • Wednesday February 17, 2016
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The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, one of the largest AIDS-based nonprofits in the country, announced this week that it's appointed a gay Chicago public health official as its new CEO.

Joe Hollendoner, 34, currently the first deputy commissioner at the Chicago Department of Public Health, will start his new job May 2.

"Joe is a talented and passionate leader, with a strong track record of innovation at large and complex institutions in the field of HIV/AIDS," SFAF board chair Philip Besirof said in a news release Tuesday. "He has a deep understanding of what is required to lead a large portfolio of successful programs, services and advocacy campaigns, while simultaneously identifying opportunities to develop new ones to meet the ever-changing needs of the community."

In Chicago, Hollendoner managed the health department's operations and initiatives to advance the public health agenda and improve residents' health.

Prior to July 2013, when he joined the health department, he helped lead Chicago's two biggest HIV service providers. He was senior vice president at AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and before that, he served as vice president/chief program officer at Howard Brown Health Center.

Hollendoner, who has a master's degree in social work, also was the founding director of the Broadway Youth Center, which SFAF says is "the first center of its kind for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness." The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named him a Community Health Leader for his work in creating the center.

In SFAF's announcement, Hollendoner, who's HIV-negative, stated, "I am honored to lead this extraordinary organization during a critical moment in the HIV epidemic when for the first time no new cases in San Francisco is possible. I look forward to working with the foundation's talented team to build upon its groundbreaking work. Together, we will continue our efforts toward making San Francisco the first city to end HIV transmission and ensuring that the needs of the diverse communities we serve are met."

Hollendoner's salary will be $275,000. SFAF has a budget of $32 million and is playing a lead role in the city's Getting to Zero initiative.

The nonprofit, which was founded in 1982, provides free services that include HIV testing, syringe access, and counseling to thousands of people a year.

In January, SFAF opened Strut, the gay and bi men's health center at 470 Castro Street.

Neil Giuliano, who served as CEO for five years, left in December to become CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, a business organization focused on civic improvement activities.

Tim Jones has been SFAF's interim CEO since Giuliano's departure, and he'll remain in that role until Hollendoner takes over, according to Mary Cha-Caswell, who chaired the board of directors' search committee.

Jones' tenure has marked the first time in recent memory that a man who's living with HIV is leading SFAF.

Asked about possible community concern that the nonprofit has selected an HIV-negative man as its next leader, Senior Vice President James Loduca noted that the agency's clients include people who are HIV-negative as well as those who are HIV-positive.

Loduca added that along with his HIV status, Hollendoner had also given SFAF permission to share that his partner is HIV-positive, and that "he lives HIV prevention and care every day of his life."

"I would hope that people wouldn't use such a one dimensional measure" as HIV status to judge Hollendoner, Loduca said. "... Our relationship to HIV is much more complex."

Hollendoner wasn't available Tuesday for an interview, but in his LinkedIn profile, he says, "I care deeply about serving vulnerable populations, and seek to create new innovative models of care that place the needs of the individual/community at the center."

Some may be concerned about another white man leading an agency that serves many people of color, but Cha-Caswell said that the candidates she and others spoke to for the position "were equally diverse in their experiences as well as gender and sexual preference. We did see a wide range of individuals across the board. The fact is that Joe is a young, white gay male, but he also more than fits the criteria that we were looking for in our next executive."

The executive search firm Egon Zehnder "assessed over 160 people at the top of the process," Cha-Caswell said. Then, "we narrowed it down" to five people for one-on-one interviews, she said.

What was most striking about Hollendoner was "how well-rounded he was across all the key criteria" that had been established, she said.

"Not any one candidate was perfect, 100 percent in each of the categories we were looking at," Cha-Caswell said, but she pointed to his experience, and said qualities including his "interpersonal skills" and "innovative thinking" are "in lock step with us in terms of where we wanted to see the most senior leader in the organization."