WHERE THE PASSION BEGINS

 

GERALD GARTH

President & Lead Strategist

My personal mission has always been to serve and represent the most underrepresented beginning from my many years of volunteerism and leadership with my church. Over the years, my professional development began to reflect that same heart for service.

My work began to reflect my growing passion for addressing community need. Having worked in tax accounting for seven years, I developed many strengths and skills in administration, yet my inspiration has strengthened and evolved.

After years of working in accounting, I felt it was important to align my skills and strengths with work that was in step with my values: to help people, to make a difference in our communities, and to impact lives through individual and structural change, particularly recognizing that most of the nation’s most affected groups are ones either I myself or a loved one represent—more particularly, Black people.

My community-based organizational work began with Black AIDS Institute in finance and administration. Very shortly after, I shifted from administration to programs as a programs specialist. In the role, I was responsible for the coordination and organization of programs, events, and outreach.

Through my commitment to service and a number of grateful opportunities, I was promoted 5 times in 3 years (the most in organizational history) from programs specialist to communications coordinator to outreach coordinator to training coordinator to Manager of Prevention and Care.

In my roles, I am proud to have trained and developed many staff— including first time HIV tester/ counselors, recent high school and college graduates, formerly incarcerated individuals, and other individuals that others might deem “hard to employ.” By building, adapting, and applying tools and resources, and creating unique, yet evidence-based approaches, in these key roles, I was able to create new opportunities and develop curricula that empowered, educated, and equipped the individuals and communities that were anecdotally undereducated and underresourced.

As the organization’s scope grew from mobilization, information dissemination, and training to include a more continued focus in providing culturally appropriate and adequate care for many of the most underserved groups in Los Angeles and the nation, most particularly Black people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and those at highest risk, including gay and bisexual men, youth, and women, I am proud to have successfully launched and led the Black AIDS Institute’s first HIV testing program in its nearly 20 year existence.

Over the course of our initial testing program, our team served over 1000 individuals, linking individuals to treatment and prevention tools as well as education through materials, workshops, and trainings. Not only did I lead the project of building, developing, and managing the Black AIDS Institute’s first ever direct services and testing, linkage, and navigation program, I served as lead for the six-organization partnership:

  1. JWCH Institute, HIV testing and care and other supportive services

  2. Men’s Health Foundation, providing gay men’s health services, including PrEP

  3. T.H.E Clinic, for uninsured, underinsured, and/or undocumented clients

  4. The Wellness Station, with a particular focus in Black women’s testing and care needs

  5. REACH LA, specializing in Black and Latinx youth services

Reinforcing the power of collaboration, as Training and Capacity Building Coordinator, I led BTAN (Black Treatment Advocates Network),  a national network of HIV/AIDS stakeholders including service providers, community members and leaders, educators, and people living with HIV/AIDS to mobilize Black communities across the country to confront HIV, responsible for 12 cities across the country.

In the African American HIV University (AAHU), a yearlong national fellowship to increase HIV knowledge, advocacy, and science literacy among community leaders while also building organizational capacity. I am proud to have been the only Black AIDS Institute staff member to have ever completed the program. Completing as salutatorian, my experience as a Fellow compelled me to work with leadership to rework and advance the program to be meet the growing needs of working adults and other nontraditional studies to include virtual learning and including modules that developed public speaking skills. After my completion of as Fellow, the following year, I served as lead leading recruitment, Fellows management, curriculum management, and one of our team of two.

My first year leading AAHU was the highest recruitment (30 active Fellows, up from 5 the previous year) and the strongest Fellows competence and satisfaction data in the history of the program. This is no coincidence. Strong leadership by example that represents lived experience and those committed to the process are necessary elements of any program.

As Outreach and Communications Coordinator, I was responsible for creating, developing, and evaluating programs and events tailored for individual communities around HIV treatment, prevention, education, and stigma, recognizing the necessity of not only building skills, but building leadership is key in regard to programs that serve unrepresented, yet most impacted communities.

Other programs I played integral leaderships roles in include:

Revolution in Color, a sexual health and leadership development program designed for young Black and Latinx GBTQ+ men ages 18-35 centered around HIV testing, prevention, education, and healthy decision making.

Stay UP: Unapologetically Positive was a spin-off of Revolution in Color, uniquely designed for the young men living with HIV of the group. These group sought to build empowerment, increase education, and create a safe and affirming space to share experiences and build skills specific to their lives on such matters like treatment, disclosure, managing life, and healthy relationships.


BTAN LA Peer Mentor Program which was designed to provide support and development based on lived experiences of individuals living with HIV.

WomenAWARE (Advocating for Wellness, Awareness, Reduction, and Empowerment), a series of trainings that looked at the intersectional needs of women and HIV.

After nearly 4 years with the Black AIDS Institute, I accepted the role of Manager of Programs Operations with the AMAAD Institute (Arming Minorities Against Addiction & Disease).

Recognizing the continued need for structural work to address HIV in Black communities, that is, working to shift and inform policy, advocacy, and education, I began to broaden my work beyond direct services. My work began to address inequity and disparities from multiple lenses, largely structural oppression, such as implicit bias in care, racism, classism, and other types of oppression, and their impacts on the care and wellness of Black people.

In my growing function at AMAAD, now serving as Director of Operations, I oversee all of the organization’s programs and public policy efforts. This work includes addressing intersectional needs--  homelessness, substance use, employment, incarceration, and mental health concerns—and their impact on HIV treatment and prevention.

Through marrying these passions and skills, I am proud to have forged the growth of AMAAD from 2 staff members to now almost 20 in my 2 and a half years with the organization. I have recognized that ongoing opportunities to include individuals in their own development and the development of their communities through leadership opportunities is paramount.

In my role, I consistently build and create protocols, procedures, and policies to help grow and prepare the organization for growth.  I have developed, implemented, and evaluated processes, programs, and strategies that address the uniqueness of the Black experience, particularly among youth, LGBTQ+, and other underserved communities through trainings, public policy efforts, advocacy, and team oversight as well as overseeing monitoring and evaluation, media and communications, staffing and training, and strategic partnerships and initiatives.

More ongoing initiatives that I am proud of include my commitment to acknowledging the role of media, messaging, and marketing in community health and wellness. Many of my media roles include: former coordinator of the Black AIDS Weekly, a national weekly newsletter serving as the premier voice for Black HIV content; contributing editor to Plus Magazine; contributing writer for the Advocate and Message magazines, ; “Positive” columnist for Heart & Soul Magazine, and former editor in chief for Chill Magazine, a print and social brand addressing the unique experiences of millennial men of color.

Knowing the necessary skill of strong writing and public speaking skills as a part of leadership development, I founded Your Story, Your Words, a writing workshop series for young Black gay and bisexual men. In partnership with the California HIV Policy Research Centers, this effort set to hone technical and creative writing skills for these men to use their own experiences in their own voice to inform policy change. From that, another proud creation, W.O.R.D. (Writing Our Reality Down), began as a quarterly event originated to showcase the works of these developing voices.

My personal commitment to ongoing has compelled me to higher education as well as I have begun to explore competitive programs to enhance and advance myself as a leader of leaders.

As faith continues to serve as a major pillar of my life, I served as a founding taskforce member for the creation, support, and ongoing observance of National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. I currently serve as a Minister and the Director of Partnerships and Community Relationships with Vision Church Los Angeles, continuing to work to bridge faith and wellness.

Most recently, I am grateful to have served as lead organizer of the All Black Lives Matter protest march in Los Angeles, garnering numbers upward of 40,000 participants. With that, I have co-founded Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change (BLAC), an organization created to amplify, highlight, and prioritize the needs and unique experiences of Black LGBTQ+ people, recognizing the disproportionate discrimination communities at those intersectional identities face.

Since founding GMG, I have built the mission of the organization to build, strengthen, and strategize with passion, creativity, tact, and skill.

ABOUT OUR BUSINESS

Garth Management Group, LLC (GMG) offers the comprehensive capabilities and deep industry knowledge necessary to help organization and individuals reach solutions.


GMG is an organizational and community development agency focused on providing leadership development, talent management, strategic development, communications and events. GMG is set to provide strategic approaches and solutions through engagement, collaboration, strategy, and action. Known for our encouraging yet firm facilitation style, GMG supports individuals and organizations as they construct systems and practices that build empowerment, tact, and skill.

Want to experience the expertise of Garth Management Group, LLC for yourself? Give us a call today and let’s discuss what we can do for you.

 

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