Karamo, Angelica Ross, Patrik-Ian Polk, and Raquel Willis to join GLAAD’s first HIV Stigma & Faith Summit to train and educate leaders addressing HIV in the South

February 22, 2021

GLAAD will be hosting its first HIV Stigma and Faith Summit from Wednesday, February 24 to Friday, February 26. The three-day virtual event will train and educate leaders to better address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern region of the United States. GLAAD is hosting the event along with the Gilead COMPASS Initiative ®, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, Southern AIDS Coalition, and Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

“GLAAD has been working diligently to foster and center community voices around key issues, HIV being one of them especially in the South. Our State of HIV Stigma Study showed us that there was more work to be done when it came to changing hearts and minds. This summit represents the actions that GLAAD is willing to take to address HIV stigma, amplify HIV knowledge, share best practices, and continue to build community on the local, regional, and national level.” said DaShawn Usher, Programs Officer, Communities of Color, GLAAD and the executive producer for the HIV Stigma and Faith Summit.

The virtual summit will feature free daily panels with guest speakers, journalists, HIV experts, faith leaders and community advocates. Additionally, GLAAD Media Institute (GMI) will host free daily media training.

“I’m so excited to help GLAAD kick off three days of critical conversations around faith, stigma, and living with HIV. Only by having these types of conversations can we work together to eliminate the stigma around living with HIV in this country,” said Karamo (Queer Eye), who will be kicking off the event on Wednesday.

“Our work with organizations across the Southern United States has made clear that faith-based communities offer an important channel to reach people living with and at risk of HIV,” said Shanell McGoy, Director, Public Affairs, Gilead Sciences. “GLAAD is an important partner to help shift narratives, reduce stigma and educate people about HIV. The HIV Stigma and Faith summit is helping prepare the next generation of leaders and expanding the skills of existing leaders in the Southern United States to end the epidemic.”

Launched in 2017, COMPASS is a 10-year, more than $100 million collaborative initiative that seeks to eradicate underlying serious and systemic challenges that contribute to the HIV epidemic in the Southern United States. These challenges require coordinated and cross-sector responses primarily focused on combating stigma, improving the quality of and access to healthcare services and increasing local leadership and advocacy efforts for those impacted by HIV. Through Gilead’s work with four coordinating centers and direct engagement with partners in the region, the company has provided $52 million in funding to the Southern United States since the program’s inception, in support of nearly 150 organizations.

On Tuesday, Gilead Sciences announced a new partnership with the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, one of the leading academic and faith-based institutions in the United States, as part of the COMPASS Initiative ®. Wake Forest will serve as the initiative’s fourth coordinating center, expanding into faith-based communities, notably the Black church, to address an important element of Gilead’s strategy to reach people living with or at risk of HIV in the Southern United States.  You can learn more by visiting www.GileadCompass.com.

The three days of events are open to the public. To register for the event, please click here. Below is a full schedule of events for the HIV Stigma and Faith Summit.

Schedule of Events:

Wednesday, February 24 | 1 PM – 2:30 PM ET | Day 1: Faith and LGBTQ

GLAAD Media Institute (GMI) Training: Media Advocacy for People of Faith

Designed specifically for faith leaders and people of faith, participants will learn how to leverage the media and articulate their message of LGBTQ acceptance in alignment with their faith. Equipped with research and best practices gleaned from 30 years of experience, the GLAAD Media Institute will work with participants to communicate their message to people of faith while combating the often-negative narrative surrounding faith and LGBTQ people. Led by Ross Murray, Senior Director, Education & Training, GLAAD. Registration is free and open to the entire COMPASS network and their partners.

Trainer: Ross Murray, Senior Director of Education & Training at The GLAAD Media Institute, GLAAD

Wednesday, February 24 | 6 PM – 7 PM ET | Day 1: Faith and LGBTQ

The Paths Shall Come Together: The Intersections of Faith, Sexuality, and HIV

Led by Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity this panel will explore how we bridge the gap between faith communities’ challenges with sexuality and HIV. Featuring a key moderator in conversation with faith leaders and HIV experts.

Special Guest Welcome: Victor Jackson, Artist, Choreographer, and Creative Director, GLAAD’s Communities of Color Ambassador

Moderator: Shonda Jones, Senior Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Integrative Learning, Wake Forest University


  • Allison Mathews, PhD, Executive Director and Research Fellow in Faith and Health, Faith Coordinating Center, Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Bishop O.C. Allen, Senior Pastor and Founder, The Vision Cathedral of Atlanta
  • Elder Gwendolyn D. Clemons, MBA, MSM, Relationship Unleashed
  • Rev. Shawn Torres-Anderson, Associate Minister, First Nazareth Baptist Church, Columbia, SC

Thursday, February 25 | 1 PM – 2 PM ET | Day 2: HIV Stigma

GLAAD Training: How to Engage with the Press

Join GLAAD’s Director of Communications, Mathew Lasky, as he conducts a training on how to create a press release, build a media list, and how to engage press around newsworthy content. Mathew will present a case study of GLAAD’s “State of HIV Stigma Study” and explain how GLAAD was able to garner press for this pivotal study.

Trainer: Mathew Lasky, Director of Communications, GLAAD

Thursday, February 25 | 6 PM – 7 PM ET | Day 2: HIV Stigma

The State of HIV Stigma

The HIV Stigma Panel Conversation will feature a key moderator and three subject matter experts that will share their best practices, strategies to address stigma, and the way forward to shattering HIV stigma.

Moderator: Marc Malkin, Senior Editor, Culture & Events, Variety


  • Shakita Brooks Jones, MSW, MPA, Founder and Executive Director, Central Alabama Alliance, Resource & Advocacy Center, Inc. (CAARAC)
  • Torrian Baskerville, Senior Associate, Prevention (CBA), NASTAD
  • Dr. Andrea Dunn, Founder & Executive Director, Let’s Beehive!, Inc
  • Dr. Victoria Frye, Associate Medical Professor in the Department of Community Health and Social Medicine of the CUNY School of Medicine
  • Marvell L. Terry II, Senior Program Manager, Southern HIV Impact Fund, AIDS United

Friday, February 26 | 1 PM – 2:30 PM ET | Day 3:  Black & LGBTQ in the South

GLAAD Media Institute (GMI) Training: Telling Your Story Through Social Media

Designed for those who are starting to incorporate social media into their advocacy strategy, participants in this specialized course will receive a comprehensive overview of social media platforms, as well as leveraging social media for reaching expanded audiences, deeper storytelling, and accelerating acceptance. This course will teach participants the best practices to make the most of the potential for a variety of social media platforms, while also carefully avoiding pitfalls that exist in the social media sphere. Led by DaShawn Usher, Programs Officer, Communities of Color, and Serena Sonoma, Communications Coordinator & Media Lead, US South.


  • DaShawn Usher, Programs Officer, Communities of Color, GLAAD
  • Serena Sonoma, Communications Coordinator and Regional Media Lead, GLAAD - U.S. South

Friday, February 26 | 6 PM – 7 PM ET | Day 3: Black and LGBTQ in the South

At the Intersections of Blackness and Queerness in the South

This panel conversation explores Black allyship and LGBTQ identities while living and thriving in the South. Centered in uplifting unheard voices, this panel will feature a key moderator with panelists of lived experiences as they share their stories.

Special Guest Welcome: Julian J. Walker, Actor, Author, and Activist, GLAAD’s Communities of Color Ambassador

Moderator: Raquel Willis, Award-winning Writer and Activist


  • Ian Haddock, Executive Director, The Normal Anomaly Initiative
  • Dwyane Williams, Program Manager, AIDS United
  • Jennifer Barnes Balenciaga, LGBTQ Liaison for State Representative Park Cannon, District 58 Atlanta, GA
  • Diamond Stylz, Executive Director of Black Trans Women Inc., Producer and Creator of Marsha’s Plate podcast.
  • Skyy Banks, Founder, HER Initiative
  • Jasmine Tasaki, Executive Director, WeCareTN