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Wash D.C. Mayor Gray names gay physician head of D.C. AIDS office
  Lou Chibbaro Jr. | Feb 05, 2011
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Friday announced the appointment of veteran public health and AIDS physician Gregory Pappas as director of the city's HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Disease and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA).
Pappas, who is gay, has held a wide range of AIDS and public health-related positions over the past 25 years, including a post as adviser to U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher during the Clinton administration. He served as contributing author to the strategic plan for U.S. international emergency relief for AIDS in developing countries during the Bush administration.
In his most recent position as a global health consultant, he has served, among other things, as medical adviser to the Silver Spring, Md.-based National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).
"I think this is the best appointment in the agency's history," said Frank Oldham, NAPWA's executive director, who served as head of the D.C. AIDS office from 1993-1994, when it was called the Agency for HIV/AIDS.
"With his medical expertise and certainly his HIV/AIDS expertise, he understands the various populations people of color, gay men of all colors, and the huge issue of AIDS among African-American women," Oldham said. "This is a phenomenal appointment, and I really think we're going to see a huge difference in saving lives from AIDS and a decrease in HIV infections in the District."
Pappas, a longtime D.C. resident, served as an assistant to Dr. Mohammed Akter, Gray's appointee as director of the Department of Health, when Akter served as the D.C. Commissioner of Public Health from 1991-1994.
Akter held that position during the administration of then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and reported directly to Gray, who then headed the D.C. Department of Human Services. At the time, the human services department had jurisdiction over health issues.
HAHSTA is currently an arm of the Department of Health and its director reports to the DOH director.
Pappas will replace Dr. Nnemdi Kamanu Elias, who has served as acting director of HAHSTA since Mayor Adrian Fenty named her to the post last July. Fenty appointed Elias to the position after Dr. Shannon Hader, who held the director's job for more than three years, abruptly resigned.
According to biographical information released by the mayor's office, Pappas served recently as a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development on mental health and HIV programs. He has also worked with the National Medical Association to improve African-American physicians' ability to serve patients who are men who have sex with men.
His international heath work includes service as chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences at Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. In his work with the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Pappas designed monitoring and evaluation plans for anti-retroviral programs in nine African countries and countries in the Caribbean.
He received a degree in medicine and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Among the jobs he held upon moving to D.C. was the post of faculty member at Howard University Medical School.
Gray picks CentroNia founder Otero to be D.C. deputy mayor for heath
By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Beatriz "B.B." Otero, founder of _blankCentroNia, a Columbia Heights multicultural learning center, was named the District's deputy mayor for health and human services Friday, putting her in charge of overseeing the city's most expensive cluster of agencies at a cost of more than $3 billion annually.
Otero, who built her nonprofit group from one that served 15 children in a church in 1986 to one that helps 3,000 children and has expanded to include a charter school, said she would resign from her nonprofit and from the boards of several other nonprofits, as well as Howard University Hospital's board of governors.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said Friday that Otero's work with families qualified her for the position. Since taking office, Gray has revived the deputy-mayor model of government, which was scaled back under his predecessor, Adrian M. Fenty (D). While Fenty had deputies for education and for planning and economic development, Gray has an additional two - for public safety and justice and for health and human services. Otero was the last deputy mayor to be named.
In an interview, Otero said her approach would be to build "relationships, bringing people together and making sure that in every decision we make, children and families are considered first."
At a news conference Friday that drew a packed room of friends, family and people from the Latino community and social services, Gray also named five other mayoral appointees in social services, the _blankOffice of African Affairs and the _blankDepartment of Insurance, Securities and Banking.
Gregory Pappas, a medical doctor and anthropologist who has worked extensively on HIV/AIDS, will serve as director of the _blankHIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Disease and Tuberculosis Administration - an agency long criticized for poor management that saw significant improvement in the Fenty administration.
"We're headed in a good direction, but I think we can do more and we can do better," said Pappas, who is working on a book, "Megacities and Health," to be published by the _blankAmerican Public Health Association. "Treatment and prevention have now merged."
Pappas, who helped develop a program that improves how black doctors talk to black men about sexually transmitted diseases, said during the news conference that the transmission of HIV/AIDS from ex-offenders "going home and infecting their loved ones" was a serious issue.
He said he wants to ensure that prisoners are taking medication during incarceration and after they are released.
Charles Thornton, named by Gray to direct the _blankOffice on Ex-Offender Affairs, said he wanted to look more closely at youths released from custody. "Right now, that is something that has [flown] under the radar somewhat," said Thornton, who for the past three years managed workforce development for _blankSasha Bruce Youthwork, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youths and runaways.
Meanwhile, Cedric Jennings, whose struggle from Ballou Senior High School to Brown University was chronicled in the best-selling book "A Hope in the Unseen," will oversee the mayor's _blankYouth Advisory Council after previously running the council's _blankOffice of Youth Programs.
Jennings, who also holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Michigan, has also been a social worker with the Child and Family Services Agency.
Outside health and social services, Gray appointed Ngozi Nmezi, a Nigerian native who has a varied background in real estate and public health, as director of the Office of African Affairs.
Nmezi, Jennings, Thornton, Pappas and Otero all live in the District. Bill White, however, will relocate to the District from Mount Holly, N.J., to take over the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking - an agency involved in recent years in the issue of whether the city has rights to the surpluses of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.
White, who was a DISB consultant from 2003 to 2004, said, "I have some initial thoughts that I'm not going to express," adding that he needs time to assess the issue and the agency.
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