For more than 15 years, the Regional Resource Network Program (RRNP) has provided innovative strategies for and support to regional, state, and local HIV prevention education, outreach, and stigma reduction efforts. The RRNP is funded by the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, which focuses funding on serving racial and ethnic minority populations and communities disproportionately affected by HIV. The RRNP supports a full-time Regional Resource Coordinator (RRC) in each of the 10 regional offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The RRCs bring a rich variety of professional experience to their role. Their backgrounds include social work, case management, community health, nonprofit management, and program evaluation. RRCs work in communities across the country, developing valuable partnerships and providing HIV education and technical assistance to regional and local entities in support of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020 (NHAS).
RRCs collaborate with and provide technical assistance to state and local health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers, community-based organizations, AIDS service organizations, faith-based organizations, and other public and private entities to expand resources and activities that will result in measurable outcomes consistent with the NHAS goal of achieving a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic. As HIV specialists in their HHS regions, the RRCs also share information and community feedback directly with HHS leadership regarding prevention, care, and treatment services necessary to fight HIV.
The RRNP also facilitates education and training about issues and tools critical to our HIV response such as the Affordable Care Act and enrollment in coverage available through the Marketplace, prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis coinfections, and HIV-related stigma reduction. Additionally, the RRNP assists state health departments in their work to develop and analyze the HIV care continuum in each jurisdiction to inform and focus subsequent HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts. The RRCs also participate in national and regional conferences to share replicable best practices and effective strategies for HIV and viral hepatitis prevention and treatment, paying particular attention to reaching groups disproportionately affected by HIV and viral hepatitis, including racial and ethnic minority young men who have sex with men.
In addition to their diverse professional credentials, each RRC has a personal connection to their work. We asked each RRC to tell us a little about him/herself including why they are passionate about working in the field of HIV. Jennease Hyatt, BS Region I (serving state and local organizations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont)Years as an RRC: 6
My passion for this work began after my Uncle Bryon passed away with AIDS-related complications. I started my career at the AIDS service organization that supported my family during his illness. Twelve years later, I remain committed to ensuring that the most marginalized people are receiving education and access to life-saving HIV prevention tools.
Angelica M. Ramirez, MPA, CASAC Region II (serving state and local organizations in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands)Years as an RRC: 7
At the age of 12 in Colombia, South America, I witnessed my favorite tio (uncle), Jorge’s, health deteriorate and his life slip away as a result of AIDS-related complications. My passion for working with chemical dependency and HIV/AIDS initiatives is in honor of Tio Jorge, as I aim to ensure that no one else experiences isolation and stigma like he did.
Shante Miller, MA Region III (serving state and local organizations in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia).Years as an RRC: 9 months
I am passionate about my work because I have seen firsthand how devastating HIV/AIDS stigma can be to families. My goal is to educate people to reduce stigma and significantly reduce new HIV infections within my region. I look forward to and I am hopeful that in my lifetime I will see the day when new infections are nonexistent.
Chiquita F. Covington, MPA Region IV (serving state and local organizations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). Years as an RRC: 3
I learned more about HIV/AIDS during my college internship at the Louisiana State University HIV Outpatient Program (HOP) in New Orleans. Contrary to my initial expectations, I encountered patients of many races and ages. That experience totally changed my perspective on the impact of HIV/AIDS and the populations that were being affected. As a result, I became a committed public health advocate with a passion for working with diverse and under-served populations to address health disparities and inequities among people living with HIV/AIDS.
Sanford E. Gaylord, BA Region V (serving state and local organizations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin)Years as an RRC: 4+
I have seen first-hand the devastation that HIV/AIDS has had on many communities. Twenty-six years ago, my own diagnosis shattered my life. Since then, I have dedicated my life to making a difference; as an actor, award-winning writer, and creative activist. I’ve channeled my creative passion into working to improve the field of HIV/AIDS.
Regina Waits, BS Region VI (serving state and local organizations in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas)Years as an RRC: 8
I became passionate about working in this field when I was a Public Health Advisor with the Centers for Disease Control in 1993. At the very first knock on the door, I felt a rush come over me like never before, and since that moment I’ve known that this deeply important work is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing!
Angela M. Williams, BS Region VII (serving state and local organizations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska)Years as an RRC: 3
I enjoy helping individuals improve their health and life skills. Working in the human services industry—especially with HIV services—grants me the opportunity to help in a broadly defined area. I can approach human needs through a collaborative knowledge base, focusing on prevention while maintaining a commitment to improving the overall quality of life for all populations.
Lisa M. Cohen, MA, MSW Region VIII (serving state and local organizations in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming)Years as an RRC: 9+
During a university Semester at Sea program, circumnavigating the globe, I began gaining experience in raising community awareness through mobilization and social justice efforts with culturally relevant programs. In graduate school, I began to support collaborative efforts that engaged multiple organizations. Those endeavors led to a development service project in Harare, Zimbabwe, and fostered my commitment to equitable health services and, more specifically, sexual health and HIV/AIDS.
Adriann J. McCall, MNA Region IX (serving state and local organizations in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau)Years as an RRC: 4
My experience working in HIV began in the 1990’s at the Bay Area Urban League, where I assisted clients in finding work and housing. Working for Mayor and former Congressman Ron Dellums at Get Screened Oakland, I created large-scale HIV testing and education programs. These initiatives developed my devotion to saving lives through service work and education.
Erick Seelbach, MAT Region X (serving state and local organizations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington)Years as an RRC: 4+Ryan White was only a few months younger than me. I was still a teenager when the first person I knew died of AIDS-related complications and I came out into a world that was being decimated by HIV/AIDS. Since that formative time in my life, I’ve been consistently engaged in HIV work in various capacities.