SF AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano. Photo: Rick Gerharter
San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano plans to leave the nonprofit by the end of the year, the group announced today (Thursday, August 15).
Giuliano, who joined the AIDS foundation almost five years ago, said in a news release, “The time feels right for a transition at the foundation, allowing the board time to identify a successor who can continue to build on the momentum we’ve established over the past five years. I have been fortunate to lead this agency through a time of unprecedented growth. Together, we dramatically expanded our free services for prevention and care, launched a $15 million multi-year major fundraising campaign poised to go public following a very successful quiet phase, and established a groundbreaking new model of care for gay and bi men [at 470 Castro Street] set to open in October.”
With a budget of almost $24 million, the AIDS Foundation, which was founded in 1982, is the largest AIDS-related nonprofit in the city.
“During his tenure, Neil provided strong direction and leadership for the agency,” AIDS foundation board Chair Michael Kidd stated. “He leaves the foundation more focused, effective and secure, and we’re grateful for his years of service. We especially appreciate Neil’s early notification of his departure later this year, allowing us to embark on a thoughtful and planned leadership transition for the agency.”
The board has started the process of appointing a search committee to help find a successor to Giuliano. The news release doesn’t say when Giuliano told the board of his decision to leave.
Giuliano started as CEO in December 2010, when the foundation had 88 employees and a budget of $19 million. The increases in the staff size and budget follow “an internal restructuring to expand HIV testing services, linkage to care, and prevention program outreach to new populations,” the AIDS foundation said.
During Giuliano’s tenure, the board has also grown from seven members to 23 members.
“Our size reflects our commitment to the community to provide HIV/AIDS direct services and prevention programs to enable San Francisco to be the first city to end HIV transmission,” Giuliano said. “It’s a large responsibility, and with tremendous support from the community and our many partners, I am more confident than ever that we will see San Francisco be the first city to end HIV transmission. To have played even a small role in helping bring that about has been a tremendous honor.”
The nonprofit’s growth since Giuliano was hired stems in part from the success of the AIDS/Life Cycle, the annual bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money for the AIDS foundation and L.A.’s LGBT Center. The ride, which is the AIDS foundation’s biggest source of privately-raised revenue, has seen record-breaking amounts each of the last four years. This summer’s event brought in $16.3 million.
Expansion of free services since 2010 have included the merger with the Stop AIDS Project and the creation of the DREAAM Project (Determined to Respect and Encourage African American Men), the Fifty-Plus Network, and TransLife.
The AIDS foundation became the fiscal sponsor of the Castro Country Club, which hosts 12-step groups, in 2013.
The agency also helped lead the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis, launching prepfacts.org and establishing what’s expected to become the world’s largest PrEP clinic.
The treatment involves taking the pill Truvada once a day. The regimen has been shown to be effective at reducing HIV infection rates if used as prescribed.
Along with the successes, however, the nonprofit has seen some trouble in recent years, including long delays to open the men’s health center on Castro Street.
The AIDS foundation announced its plans in October 2012 to merge its Magnet health center; the Stonewall Project, which provides drug counseling programs; and the Stop AIDS Project, which focuses on HIV prevention, into 470 Castro. The group had hoped to move into the space in October 2013.
From the outside, the building, which used to house a video store and office space, has looked finished for months. In a June interview, Giuliano said he didn’t know when the center would open or what the total cost would be.
“It’s not done, but we’re making good progress,” he said. “… The community is going to be really, really well served.”
Giuliano suggested the slow movement has been related to other development going on.
There’s “a lot of construction going on in the community, and ours is one,” he said.
AIDS foundation staff have previously talked about getting licensing for the facility as another factor in the timeline. Asked about that, Giuliano said there have been “different kinds of delays.” There’s “no one reason,” he said, but “a combination of a lot of different things.”
Also, as the Bay Area Reporter noted in a June story, a senior essay by a recent Yale graduate blasted the nonprofit, questioning its spending millions of dollars to establish the health center and indicating that many staffers feel dismissed by the nonprofit’s leadership team.
Giuliano indicated the essay was heavily flawed but confirmed that Daniel Dangaran, the author, had spent weeks at the agency. He offered little in the way of corrections and acknowledged there have been problems at his organization.
“Any time you’re working with a diverse group of people in an often tough service delivery kind of work, you’re going to fall short of meeting people’s expectations from time to time,” Giuliano said. “We understand that, and we always strive to do a better job.”
The organization has completed a five-year strategic planning process with the board that sets goals for 2020. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California State Office of AIDS have awarded significant multi-year HIV prevention grants for the AIDS foundation’s plan.
The B.A.R. will have more on Giuliano’s departure in the Thursday, August 20 edition of the paper.