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By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
SOUTHFIELD – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s the new philosophy of Michigan AIDS Fund, which will concentrate its funding on prevention programs alone during the grant year beginning Oct. 1.
The organization, which since 1989 has been the only private funding source in Michigan solely dedicated to AIDS, also has named AIDS service veteran Stacey Barbas as its new executive director. Barbas was previously the interim executive director, and before that served as program officer since April 2001.
Michigan AIDS Prevention Project CEO Craig Covey was excited about the news.
“MAF has raised and distributed millions of dollars to HIV AIDS service organizations over the years for direct care services, case management, and education/prevention,” he said. “Their new direction now focusing solely on prevention is an important and gratifying development. Truly effective prevention is often ignored these days due to political pressures from the social conservatives and government deficits.”
Barbara Murray, executive director of AIDS Partnership Michigan, agreed.
“It isn’t like Michigan AIDS Fund doesn’t know prevention – because they do. I have no problem with this decision – it’s a smart decision on their part. What I like about Michigan AIDS Fund is their willingness to look at experimental programs. They fund us for things the feds won’t.”
According to Barbas, the shift in focus is the result of a long process.
“About a year ago or more, we started to take a look at where MAF has been and where we’re going,” Barbas said. “One of the ways that we analyzed the organization was through rigorous interviewing of our constituents – including donors and current grantees – to see what worked, what might work in the future and what the service providers really needed.”
“Many years ago there wasn’t any government or philanthropic funding – at that point we were funding care and treatment and counseling and testing,” she added. “Now agencies have diversified and the government is funding care. Obviously, there is no cure for HIV, and we believe one of the best strategies is HIV prevention.”
As for her new title, Barbas said, “It feels wonderful. It’s nice to have the title officially.”
Barbas has worked in the non-profit field for 21 years.
Murray was equally pleased with the announcement of Barbas’ new position.
Barbas is “a very seasoned nonprofit leader,” Murray said. “Stacey knows AIDS well. When I was hired in ’89 as executive director of APM, she was on the board of directors then. She was doing counseling and testing at that time. So Stacey knows AIDS through and through. She’s a smart woman.”
Covey agreed that Barbas is a good choice for the position.
“I have worked with Stacey since 1986 developing innovative approaches to HIV and STD education and prevention, and I am thrilled that she will take the helm at MAF,” he said. “She is smart, energetic, and totally in tune with what needs to get done in Michigan.”
Michigan AIDS Fund has invested more than $11 million across the state to HIV/AIDS organizations since 1989. MAF also operates AmeriCorps Team Detroit, the Positive Perspective Speakers Bureau and the MPowerment project.
MAF will begin sending out requests for proposals from AIDS service agencies by the end of this month. For more information call 248-395-3244 or visit http://www.michaidsfund.org.