Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Strut, PRC announce staff moves


Joshua O'Neal, Strut sexual health services director, left, and Jared Hemming, Strut site director. Photo: Courtesy Strut
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Two San Francisco nonprofits that work to address HIV/AIDS have announced staff moves.

At Strut, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's health center at 470 Castro Street, Jared Hemming is the new site director and Joshua O'Neal is the new sexual health services director.

Positive Resource Center, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps people who're living with HIV/AIDS or mental health disabilities, has hired Gayle Roberts to serve as chief development officer.

Strut, which opened in January, provides free services ranging from HIV testing and counseling to mental health services. In response to emailed questions, the new directors talked about needing to expand programs while meeting demand for existing services, among other issues.

Hemming, 42, who's been with SFAF since 2012, has held roles including interim director of community engagement and program manager for the Bridgemen volunteer group, as well community organizer for Magnet, the nonprofit's sexual health services unit.

He said his main challenge in his new post will be adapting to "the ever-changing landscape of the HIV world."

SFAF is a leader in San Francisco's Getting to Zero initiative, which is meant to cut HIV transmission and HIV-related deaths in the city by 90 percent before 2020.

"As we get fewer and fewer cases in San Francisco it will be important to keep a pulse on other issues facing our community and how we can address those issues as they arise," Hemming, a gay man who's HIV-negative and on PrEP, said. "I want Strut to grow and develop new programming and services that keep us supporting our communities in the best way possible."

He also wants to build community relations.

"I plan on being more visible out in the community and fostering collaborations and partnerships," Hemming said. "It is also important to me that Strut feels like a space for all members of our diverse communities and that we build a sense of unity and fellowship."

He added that he wants to help staff members.

"I believe our employees are our best assets," Hemming said. "... It is important work that we do at Strut and I want our employees to know that we have their backs and that we want to support them in any way that we can."

O'Neal, who's 35 and identifies as queer, joined SFAF in 2015. Before becoming the health services director, he served as testing services manager and as Strut's interim director.

One challenge he sees is finding room for all the people who want to take advantage of the nonprofit's services.

"Though the new space is big, we are quickly outgrowing the space due to community engagement and demands," O'Neal said. "We have to revisit our service provision models to come up with more efficient models."

He said that in the 18th Street space Magnet occupied before it and other services were moved into the bigger building at Strut, the program would see 40 people a day at most.

"In the new space at Strut, we will see a minimum of 50, often 60 or more clients per day," said O'Neal, who's HIV-negative and on PrEP. "Even with this expansion, we are having trouble keeping up with community demands. Magnet often turns folks away after reaching our daily capacity, which is problematic. We are working on rapid asymptomatic screening models which would allow us to see more people per day, with quicker appointment times."

In a step that could help Strut assist more people, he said clients would soon be able to access test results online.

Addressing health disparities among the city's many communities is another concern, and O'Neal and others are working on plans to engage people to ensure more of them have access to education, screening, and PrEP.

"You will see more collaborations citywide with the hopes of building a more effective infrastructure of support," he said.

Along with hope comes some fear, though, with Republican Donald Trump's election as president.

"Trump is a major concern for many of us in the nonprofit realm, especially dealing with LGBTQ communities, and HIV, and sex, and substance use," O'Neal said. "I am concerned about the way things will play out over the next four years, but I am also excited to be a part of the resistance as an activist and advocate for my communities."

Hemming and O'Neal didn't respond to questions about their salaries.

Hemming is assuming the role of former Strut Executive Director Tim Patriarca, who left in July. Patriarca's salary was about $188,000.

O'Neal takes the place of Steve Gibson, who departed in April to become the HIV prevention branch chief at the State Office of AIDS in Sacramento. Gibson declined to state his salary during an interview in April.


Gayle Roberts has joined Positive Resource Center as development director. Photo: Courtesy PRC

Roberts joins PRC

As chief development officer at Positive Resource Center, Roberts, 54, is responsible for strategic planning and managing day-to-day operations, among other duties, and she's also overseeing the nonprofit's fundraising activities.

Roberts, a transgender woman, said, "I'm really excited to join this organization. I feel like all my experiences, both personally and professionally, have brought me to this place."

Like O'Neal at Strut, she also expressed concern about Trump's victory.

"With the recent election, there is uncertainty about what some of the fundraising landscape is going to look like," especially in terms of government and institutional support, she said, and she wants to "get out ahead of any of those changes."

Before she joined PRC, Roberts was the senior development officer for Openhouse, a San Francisco nonprofit that works with LGBT seniors. She's also worked as development director for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, among other posts.

Roberts declined to share her salary information.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported in October, longtime Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis has left that organization to become PRC's managing director of strategic partnerships. PRC declined to say what Moshoyannis' salary is.

In a news release, PRC CEO Brett Andrews said the orgaanization is "delighted" about Moshoyannis and Roberts joining the nonprofit "in two very important and strategic leadership roles."

"Both have a strong track record of growing and advancing the nonprofits in which they have served," Andrews said.

PRC recently merged with Baker Places, which provides residential substance abuse treatment and other services, and AIDS Emergency Fund, which offers financial assistance to people disabled by HIV/AIDS. The combined agency is still known as Positive Resource Center.


Ex-employee files claim against Hemming

While Hemming, the new Strut director, said he would "support" employees and have their backs, a former worker has filed claims against him and a human resources staffer at SFAF.

In a claim filed in October in San Francisco Superior Court, Demarus Allen-Batieste, 30, said Hemming owes him $10,000 for "failure to act, wrongful termination, [and] touching repeatedly when asked to stop."

Allen-Batieste, who's African-American and identifies as queer, served as coordinator for Strut's DREAAM (Determined to Respect and Encourage African-American Men) program before he left in August, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He also filed a $10,000 claim against SFAF human resources staffer Megan Arganbright. In his claim, his allegations include "emotional distress, racial discrimination, failure to act to prevent sexual harassment," and "wrongful termination."

In an interview, Allen-Batieste said he went to Hemming after a co-worker repeatedly kissed him. The co-worker, who's white, told him "he kisses friends and co-workers as a greeting," Allen-Batieste said.

He said human resources staffer Arganbright told him "it was a cultural difference."

Allen-Batieste also said Hemming hugged him multiple times, and he asked him to stop.

In a complaint that's been filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Allen-Batieste alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Allen-Batieste said in an email to the B.A.R . that he has "PTSD with depression," related to incidents in which he's been arrested. He declined to share details on his arrest record but said, "I haven't been convicted."

The state fair employment agency sent him a right-to-sue notice in September allowing him to file a private lawsuit.

Allen-Batieste said lawyers he's contacted have told him they don't have time to take his case.

SFAF spokesman Chris Richey said in an email, "As a matter of policy, we do not comment on HR matters."

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