It is with both a sense of true accomplishment and a touch of deep sadness that I am writing to let you know that I have resigned my position as AIDS Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles and will be leaving city service in the coming few weeks.
I leave proud of the successes of the AIDS Coordinator’s Office (ACO) over the past eight years; as my team has worked vigorously to raise community awareness, build provider capacity and challenge the responsiveness of all levels of government to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. From Mayor Villaraigosa’s repeated calls for all Angelenos to know their HIV status, to the work of Mayor Hahn’s groundbreaking AIDS Advisory Council, to the fact that Councilmembers from all 15 districts have participated in HIV prevention events and/or actively advanced HIV policy at the local, state or federal level during that period, City government has remained highly engaged in the struggle to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on our communities.
We have funded programs and commissioned research to improve our understanding of an array of dynamics that help drive the epidemic, including beliefs and behaviors among gang affiliated youth, risk profiles of men with transgender partners, the impact of GPS-based mobile social networking technology on sexual behavior, and our current efforts to better assess the barriers faced by community-based clinics in expanding routine HIV testing. This work has helped support our partnerships with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, St. Johns Health and Wellness Centers and the Saban Free Clinic to expand the availability and accessibility of HIV screening across Los Angeles. Together with our network of prevention providers we have supported innovative interventions and service models across Los Angeles.
Please know that my transition does not represent a departure from addressing the HIV epidemic, rather an expansion of my ability to create change across a broader spectrum. I will soon be joining the Raben Group, a progressive public policy, advocacy and communications firm based in Washington, DC. As one of the two principals in their Los Angeles office, it will be my task to grow their ability to provide advocacy, technical assistance, strategic planning and government affairs work to a diverse array of stakeholders; with an emphasis on both Southern California and Sacramento. I look forward to exploring ways you and I can continue to work together to improve the well-being of our communities.
Over the coming weeks I will work hard with the Mayor, City Council and Department on Disability to ensure that my successor has the passion, knowledge and expertise necessary to keep Los Angeles at the forefront of addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. That has been our collective responsibility since AIDS was recognized here in Los Angeles some 30 years ago.
Thank you again for your work to make our communities safer, healthier, and stronger. I look forward to our continued collaboration in this next chapter.
Stephen David Simon
Principal, The Raben Group