Mindie Loebach, Chair
Mindie Loebach is originally from Naperville, Illinois. Mindie relocated to Raleigh to attend UNC-Chapel Hill where she obtained her BA in psychology. Mindie’s dedication to non- profit service began by helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She has since worked with other non- profit organizations including a foundation that brought art to local communities, helping to bring a center for individuals with Autism into being, working with at-risk youth and serving the local ASPCA to help animals in need. In her spare time, Mindie enjoys sailing, spending time with friends and traveling.
Alex Delaney is a Virginia native but moved to North Carolina at a very young age. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science and a minor in music. Alex currently works as a research assistant in the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit of the UNC School of Medicine and has served in this role since 2013. His work focuses on biomedical research strategies for HIV prevention, HIV treatment, and improving quality of life for people living with HIV. Through his work in prevention research, Alex was able to join a task force developed by the NC AIDS Training and Education Center aimed at increasing provider education and consumer access of PrEP across the state. His dedication to patient care within clinical research has lead him to pursue a nursing a degree, and he hopes to earn his BSN in 2019. Outside of UNC, Alex is an active member of the community and volunteers with multiple organizations such as ReachOut NC, Alliance of AIDS Services NC, and Triangle Plus. Alex has been living with HIV since 2010 and hopes to use his experiences to create necessary change in order to end the HIV epidemic.
Michael DeMarco is an Executive Prevention Specialist with Gilead Sciences that covers most of North and South Carolina. Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company committed to creating groundbreaking therapies that address unmet medical needs, most notably in the HIV and HCV. In his capacity as a Prevention Specialist he works directly with Healthcare Providers on a daily basis to expand knowledge, awareness and overall usage of HIV Prevention in the Carolinas. In addition to working with clinicians Michael is a critical part of Gilead’s extensive community effort to ensure area ASOs, CBOs and statewide decision makers understand the need/benefit of broad HIV Prevention efforts and how those can be implemented.Michael was born and raised in Central New York and moved south to Charleston, WV to play college golf at the University of Charleston. Upon graduation he went onto earn a Master’s Degree in Public Relations from Marshall University before beginning a career in bio pharmaceuticals. Michael moved to Charlotte, NC where he currently lives with his wife Nikki and newborn son Anthony.
Alicia Diggs, Secretary
Alicia is a native of Philadelphia and has lived in North Carolina since 1997. She received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2009 from UNC-Greensboro, a Master’s in Public Health from Capella University and is currently working on a doctorate in Public Health also at Capella University. Alicia was diagnosed with HIV in 2001 and made a decision in 2004 to become an HIV & AIDS activist, educator, and speaker. Alicia is a member of the Positive Women’s Network (PWN-USA) and SisterLove-2020 Leading Women’s Society. Alicia has spoken for organizations such as Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, Guilford Community AIDS Partnership (GCAP), Guilford County Health Department, and Triad Health Project. She has also spoken at area universities, public schools, community health events, and churches. Alicia has appeared on FOX 8 News, News 2, 90.1 WNAA, BETs Wrap It Up Campaign, the Busta Brown Show, in AOL Health, POZ Magazine, The Guilford County Women’s Journal and Divine Connections WebTV & magazine just to name a few. As an HIV/AIDS activist and educator, Alicia is also the CEO and Founder of I Will Live which is a foundation whose goal is to help the community understand the importance of STD and STI prevention and knowing your HIV & AIDS status by getting tested as well as living healthy and productive lives through empowerment and education.
Vanessa Duren-Winfield is a native of Winston-Salem, NC. She has three degrees from North Carolina A&T State University: B.S. Business Administration, M.S. Adult Education, and Ph.D. in Leadership Studies. She serves as Director of Research for the School of Health Sciences and assistant professor in the Healthcare Management Program at Winston-Salem State University. She is a health disparities researcher and her primary research interests include HIV & AIDS, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes with special emphasis addressing disparities in quality of care for minority populations. She served 15 years as a Research Associate at Wake Forest University School of Medicine where she served in numerous capacities that include grant writing, clinical research trials management, the development of research protocols, evaluation tools and intervention design. She has extensive experience applying community-based research methods while working with diverse populations and multi-disciplinary teams. Since her arrival at WSSU in 2007, she has received funding to conduct a variety of community-based research studies in her areas of expertise. She recently received funding from The UNC-Center for AIDS Research to design an HIV & AIDS Knowledge and Behavior Intervention for HBCU college students. In 2007, she traveled to Malawi, Southeastern Africa to help teachers craft culturally comprehensible HIV & AIDS educational materials using low-level technologies. The technologies have since been implemented in the educational curriculum of the country. Vanessa has a passion for helping students reach their fullest potential and currently mentors 12 undergraduate students exposing them to “hands on” behavioral and biomedical research activities. She has been published both nationally and internationally.
Tony Franco, Vice-Chair
Tony Franco is a long-time and dedicated activist in supporting the lives of those impacted by HIV & AIDS. Tony graduated from New York University in 1980, and earned his JD from Pace University School of Law in 1985. Tony has volunteered with a number of HIV & AIDS organizations in Los Angeles, California and most recently here in North Carolina, including the Western North Carolina AIDS Project. He is a long term survivor and has thrived living with HIV for over 25 years.
Veleria Levy is the Senior Account Executive for Avita Pharmacy in Salisbury, NC, and the former 2nd Vice-Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP). She is the Founder & President of Purses and Politics, which is a non-partisan group that gathers women together to discuss political issues. Veleria is also a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the NAACP.
Veleria has been an advocate for education and volunteers her time as a Board Member for Gemstones Academy and as a member of the PTO. She also serves as one of the appointees from the Rowan County Commission to serve on the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations council, as a member of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee, and is a member of the Community Development Commission for the City of Kannapolis. Veleria holds a degree in Political Science from NC A&T State University.
Adam Linker is currently a program officer in the Healthcare Division at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Prior to coming to the trust, he was the Co-Director of the North Carolina Justice Center’s Health Access Coalition, a statewide nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. At the Justice Center, Adam analyzed state and federal health care legislation and regulations, lobbied lawmakers, wrote reports and editorials, and spoke to community groups. Over the years, he has worked extensively with the North Carolina AIDS Action Network to ensure that state and federal policy responds to the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS. He also represents consumers on several state task forces studying how best to implement federal health reform in North Carolina. In addition, Adam is a designated consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Adam has also been a health care and education reporter for Triangle Business Journal. He has a master’s degree in African American history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a master’s degree in journalism from UNC. Adam grew up in Raleigh and attended UNC as an undergraduate.
Elaine Martin, Treasurer
Elaine Martin has been a speaker and leader within the transgender and the broader LGBTQ communities for the last 25 years. She has previously served as the Chair of the Equality North Carolina C4 board and is a former President and Programming Chair of “The Southern Comfort Conference,” the largest conference of transgender people in the world. She speaks and presents frequent seminars on an array of topics regarding transgender rights, transitioning, policy, workplace, relationships, health and the many challenges faced by trans people and those who love and work with them.
Elaine spent a widely varied 23 years in the banking industry at the executive level, owned a small aviation company, and is the current owner of “Power of Diversity,” which specializes in consulting, coaching and training for employers of trans people and their trans employees. She is also an Associate Consultant to Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, which specializes in LGBTQ employee/employer integration and education in the workplace. Elaine holds a BA in Psychology from SUNY Buffalo, an MBA in Finance from the University of New Mexico and is married with children.
Dr. Diana Rowan is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is the principal investigator on a research study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Minority AIDS Research Initiative. This $1.1 million project focuses on HIV prevention for young African American gay/bisexual men and transgender women through culturally based social networking. Dr. Rowan has published numerous peer-reviewed research articles on HIV in minority communities, including the house ball community. She is author of a 2013 textbook entitled Social Work with HIV and AIDS: A Case-Based Guide. Prior to coming to North Carolina, Dr. Rowan worked as a private practice licensed social work clinician around issues related to same-sex sexuality, transgender identity, and living with HIV. Dr. Rowan has done cross-cultural research in several countries of southeastern Africa and for the last four years has taken students to Malawi for coursework and research each year. When not working, Diana enjoys watching high school, college and NFL football, and eating Popeye’s fast food. She is also a U.S. Army veteran.
Cindy Snyder is a Director of Community Government Relations for ViiV Healthcare, a pharmaceutical company 100% focused on HIV. In her current role, Cindy works with patient advocates and policy makers on health policies that improve access to care for people living with HIV, at the federal level and in several states. Prior to joining ViiV Healthcare, Cindy was with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), working with Medicaid programs and commercial insurance plans. She has held past positions in the Policy and State Government Affairs departments, where she focused on HIV funding and access issues associated with Medicaid and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. She previously served on the board of Be Active NC, and is the chair of Duke Lutheran Campus Ministry committee through her church. Cindy is a member of the North Carolina State Bar and lives in Durham with her husband and two daughters.
J. Wesley Thompson
Wesley Thompson has practiced medicine for 30 years and has opened Thompson Medical Group in Charlotte, North Carolina. He provides care to the HIV & AIDS population and the LGBTQ community of Mecklenburg County and surrounding counties. He is a board certified physician assistant and the first physician assistant to be certified as an HIV Specialist in the state of North Carolina and one of the first in the United States. He has coinvestigated in over 60 clinical trials for new medications to treat HIV. He lectures locally, statewide, and nationally to medical conferences, to patient groups, and provider groups. He serves as guest lecturer and adjunct professor at Davidson University, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Central Piedmont Community College, Wake Forest University and Wingate University. He serves as a speaker for the National Ryan White Action Campaign. He is the Co-Chair of the Southeast Chapter of American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM), serves on the North Carolina ADAP provider committee, and is on the North Carolina AIDS Action Network (NCAAN) Board of Directors. He was the Medical Co-Chair of the Quality Management Ryan White Committee for Mecklenburg County 2012 – 2014. He also serves on the Board of Directors for CarolinasCare ASO and served on the Board of Directors for the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) and the AIDSWALK Committee for 6 years. He served as Co-Chair of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners HIV Task Force. He received his Bachelor of Art at Wake Forest in 1982, and received his Bachelor of Health Science and Physician Assistant degree at Duke in 1987 and his Master in Health at Duke in 1991. He attends St. Peter’s Episcopal Church where he has served as a Eucharistic Minister. Wesley, with the love of his life and spouse, Trey Owen, recently celebrated 29 years together. They live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their two dogs, Astro and Jackson.
Ciara Zachary is the Health Program Director at NC Child. In this role, she works to advance programs and policies to ensure that every child in North Carolina has access to and receive high-quality and affordable health care. Prior to coming to NC Child, Ciara worked as a policy analyst on the Health Advocacy Project at the NC Justice Center. In addition to research and analysis, she worked with statewide partners and coalitions to protect and strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Through this work, Ciara began working with NC AIDS Action Network to fully implement the ACA by expanding Medicaid. She also has experience as a public health researcher focusing on injury prevention. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Ciara relocated to the Triangle in 2015. Ciara received her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, her Master’s from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.