Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

SFAF CEO to lead
Phoenix biz group


Neil Giuliano. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Departing San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano will become president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, it was announced Wednesday.

GPL, as it is known, is a business leadership organization focused on civic improvement initiatives for Arizona, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, which posted the story August 19.

Last week, before his new job was announced, Giuliano, 58, said that he thought the time was right for a new leader at the AIDS foundation. The Journal reported that Giuliano expects to start his new job in November.

"I feel very, very good about what we've accomplished" at SFAF, and it's "a different organization than when I arrived. It just feels right," Giuliano said Thursday, August 13, the day his departure was announced.

SFAF, which has a budget of more than $29 million and about 150 employees, had a staff of 88 and a budget of $19 million when Giuliano, the gay former mayor of Tempe, Arizona, started at the nonprofit in December 2010.

During his tenure, the agency, which offers free services to thousands of people, has worked to eliminate HIV transmissions in the city. It's expanded HIV testing services, linkages to care, and prevention program outreach, among other achievements.

Recently, however, SFAF has faced delays in opening its gay and bi men's health center at 470 Castro Street, and a report from a Yale student who spent last summer observing the foundation said some staff are unhappy with Giuliano and other agency leaders.

Still, Giuliano, who said leaving is "1,000 percent my decision," has garnered praise from many in the community, including Michael Kidd, who chairs the nonprofit's board.

"During his tenure, Neil provided strong direction and leadership for the agency," Kidd said in an August 13 news release. "He leaves the foundation more focused, effective and secure, and we're grateful for his years of service."

The board has started the process of appointing a search committee to help find a successor to Giuliano, who said his biggest achievement has been "partnering with the community to shift the model of care from one focused on sickness and disease management to one focused on the health and wellness of the community."

He said he's confident that San Francisco "will be the first city that ends HIV transmissions," and "to have played even a minor role in that, leading this organization for five years, has been a tremendous honor."

One of SFAF's biggest funding sources is the city's public health department, which for this fiscal year is providing about $9.9 million.

In an emailed statement, Health Director Barbara Garcia said, "Neil's leadership took the SF AIDS Foundation to the next level of development, with a focus on ensuring integrated services for their clients."

According to SFAF's most recently available tax filings, Giuliano's compensation was about $327,000.


470 Castro

The shift at SFAF has involved bringing testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, drug counseling, and other services together at 470 Castro.

The foundation announced its plans for the building, which used to house a video store and office space, in October 2012, and it had hoped to move into the space in October 2013. SFAF now predicts the center will be ready for business this October.

The delays have some people concerned, including longtime gay activist Cleve Jones, who more than 30 years ago helped found what became SFAF.

"I'm concerned about the future of the agency, and I have questions, in particular about the new building on Castro Street and when it will be operational," Jones, who's living with AIDS, said.

He said he has "no ax to grind" with SFAF, and he noted he held a fundraiser for the organization last year to mark his 60th birthday. The event raised more than $50,000, Jones said.

Giuliano himself acknowledged being bothered by the delay. He said his biggest disappointment involves the health center.

"I wish the center would have opened a year and a half ago," he said, and he and others "share the frustration" people have with it not being open yet.

"We would like to have had it open by now, but it has not impacted our delivery of services to the neighborhood by any stretch," Giuliano said.

The main cause for delay is the center's classification under Title 24 for California licensed health facilities.

Needed changes have included making baseboards in rooms with a water supply six inches tall instead of four inches, Giuliano said.

"There is always something as you get close to the end of a project," he said, and when it's a medical facility, the list of final tasks "is even longer."

Despite the delays, Giuliano expressed optimism for 470 Castro.

"It really is going to be a place for holistic health and wellness for the community," he said. "I realize it's taking longer than we wanted it to take, but it's going to be worth the wait."

Gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose District 8 includes the Castro, said, "I was sad when I heard" Giuliano is leaving, "but I also completely understand. He's had a great run here. He's done some wonderful work for the organization and the community," including building the new center.

The facility has "taken a few months longer than anticipated" to open, Wiener said, but "these projects always take longer than you think. This is a small delay in the big scheme of things." He added, "In a few months, no one will even remember there was a modest delay."

Bevan Dufty, who previously held Wiener's supervisor's seat and now serves as director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement for Mayor Ed Lee, has known Giuliano since before he joined SFAF. Dufty echoed Wiener's remarks.

"I couldn't be prouder of Neil," Dufty said. "He's come in and done amazing things."

Dufty and his partner, Corey Lambert, are donating $2,500 toward the center and he said, "I feel confident" about its future.

"This is an important facility," Dufty said. "You really want to do it right, rather than be expedient and try to rush something."


Yale essay

Delays at 470 Castro haven't been the only problems SFAF has faced in recent months.

A senior essay by a recent Yale graduate indicated that many staffers feel dismissed by Giuliano and others on the foundation's leadership team.

Asked about the paper in an interview last week, Giuliano said staff working groups have been formed and there has been "good dialogue internally about some of the issues" raised by Daniel Dangaran, the essay's author. (Dangaran has never responded to the Bay Area Reporter 's interview requests.)

Giuliano, though, wouldn't give examples of areas that his agency is examining.

"You're not on the staff," he said, laughing. "It's internal. It's like a family. A family discussion."

As for whether changes would be announced, Giuliano said, "These aren't changes. These are dialogues. These are conversations. It's about always wanting to do better and coming in and having open communication. It's not like there's a list of things that change next Wednesday. ... That's not the way large organizations with 150 employees" operate, he said.

He also said his leaving isn't related to the essay.

"Oh, gosh, no. Are you kidding? That's silly," he said.

Last week, Giuliano would not disclose what his next job would be during his interview with the B.A.R. He said recruiters had contacted him throughout his time at SFAF but it wasn't until recently that he was willing to discuss possibilities.

As the foundation searches for a new CEO, Jones said it's important for people to support it.

Among other things, he mentioned pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, of which the agency has been a strong backer. 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.

"We need them to be strong," Jones said of SFAF. "We need to be able to make the most of the advances in treatment and in PrEP, which I support, and we need to do a better job – not just the agency, but the whole community – in reaching young gay and bi men of color" to address infection rates. "It's really important that the foundation does well, and we all need to be paying attention."


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