Michigan AIDS Coalition faces another change in leadership as CEO Helen Hicks announced her resignation after three years on the job. Hicks accepted a new position as the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Macomb, where she will oversee a staff of 30 and a budget of over $6 million.
The announcement of Hicks departure came July 19 and is effective on July 31. Longtime AIDS activist Terry Ryan will serve as interim CEO while the board begins a search.
Hicks praised Ryan’s work saying, “I have worked closely with Terry during the past three years and I have every confidence in his ability to continue to move the agency forward. While our styles are different, our values are the same.”
Hicks became CEO shortly after MAC was created after merging Michigan AIDS Fund and Michigan AIDS Prevention Project into the new organization.
“Working at MAC has been one of the most positive and life-changing experiences of my life,” Hicks told staff. “I have made professional contacts and close friends who will remain with me for the rest of my life. Never have I met a group of people who were more dedicated or sincere as they battle new challenges with renewed dedication and strength. While I look forward to my new position, which is much closer to home and our critically ill son, a part of my heart will remain at MAC.”
Hicks said her biggest accomplishment was gaining the respect of the community as a straight person. Other accomplishments include “working side by side with people who continue to do everything in their power to educate those infected and affected with HIV/AIDS, Hep C and STDs in spite of a challenging economic environment.”
“Creating a work environment that follows a business model with serious financial controls and a strong fundraising arm,” was another accomplishment noted by Hicks. Strong financial controls and fundraising efforts have given the organization what Hicks calls “strong 990s for the past two years,” referring to the nonprofit’s financial statements.
Hicks also secured two national AIDS events that have generated revenue for the organization. DIFFA: Dining by Design, is a high-class annual event that will carry on in Hicks’ absence. This year’s multi-day event will take place Sept.13 through Sept. 15 at the State Fairgrounds, and Dine Out for Life will be held again in April 2013. “These events pair non-traditional donors with the community to further create strong partnerships and collaborations,” Hicks said.
“In spite of my efforts and those of my team, few too many people in metro Detroit understand the challenges facing AIDS-service organizations such as MAC, HELP, CHAG, APM and others. As I depart, I hope the folks reading this article will consider making a donation to any of these charities so that prevention work can continue and more young people especially, can be educated. As I leave, I hope for a trail of gifts – not to me directly, but to the missions, such as MAC who truly save lives and provide hope.”
Hicks also hopes that organizations will weather the storm of the rough economy by working together more. “I hope the CEOs of all of the organizations come together and find ways to either permanently or temporarily collaborate. Everyone is working in the same general area, using donor dollars which are shrinking to do more. It would just make sense to come together on different levels, share resources and staff, and help those who are from the communities we serve more efficiently and with more compassion.”
Hicks will also continue to be involved as a consultant for MAC.