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Pulitzer Center Update September 22, 2009

A Deadly Cycle of Stigma and Discrimination: panel Discussion


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Jamaica has the reputation of being one of the most violently anti-gay countries on earth. Male...

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Stigma and discrimination prevent people around the world from accessing the HIV prevention, care and treatment services they need. This is particularly true in areas of the Caribbean, such as Jamaica, where anti-sodomy laws and concerns about violence put vulnerable populations at extreme risk.
On September 22nd, the Center, in association with the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, brought together a group of journalists, funders, AIDS activists and community members to discuss the human impact of discrimination, the need for coordinated multi-sectoral action, and journalism's role in bringing these issues to the broadest possible public.
The session was introduced by Jon Sawyer, Executive Director of the Pulitzer Center and moderated by Julia Greenberg, Associate Director of AIDS-Free World. The panelists were:

  • Kwame Dawes, Poet and Writer HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica
  • Micah Fink, Filmmaker Glass Closet
  • Nancy Mahon, Executive Director, M∙A∙C AIDS Fund, Senior Vice President, M·A·C Cosmetics
  • Jason McFarlane, Executive Director, JFLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays)
  • Rachel Tiven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality

To open, Pulitzer Center Executive Director Jon Sawyer introduces the work of the Center on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica with clips from the Emmy award winning and Glass Closet. 

About the Panelists: 
Ghanaian-Jamaican writer and poet Kwame Dawes is the author of over a dozen collections of verse and author of numerous plays, essays and books. He is the Distinguished Poet in Residence and Louis Frye Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina. Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica, a reporting project for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, explores the human face of the epidemic. This multimedia project combines extended essays, two short documentaries, a one-hour radio documentary, a collection of poetry inspired by his reporting, a performance of the poems set to music (recently performed at the National Black Theatre Festival), and, an interactive web presentation that has won numerous awards, most recently a news and documentary Emmy. 
Micah Fink is an Emmy-nominated producer specializing in international affairs, public health, national security and environmental issues. Micah's work has appeared on Wide Angle, Frontline, National Geographic Television and ABC News. He has written for print, magazines and the web. His recent work, Glass Closet, explores the intersections among homophobia, violence, stigma, religion and the disease in Jamaica. A collaboration between the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and WNET's WorldFocus program, the five-part series begins airing the week of September 22nd. The Pulitzer Center's complementary website The Glass Closet launches simultaneously and features the video documentaries, related print material, and an interactive space for the public to share their own stories about stigma and HIV in their communities. 
Julia Greenberg is the associate director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization that works to promote more urgent and effective global responses to HIV/AIDS. Together with the organization's co-Directors, Stephen Lewis and Paula Donovan, she is responsible for setting the programmatic and policy directions for the organization. She also coordinates AIDS-Free World's work in the Caribbean and its advocacy efforts in support of a UN Women's Agency. Julia has been working on HIV/AIDS, human rights and community development for over a decade. She has been a tireless advocate in the donor community for increased direct financial support for activists making change at the grassroots level. 
Nancy Mahon, Esq. is a senior vice president at M·A·C Cosmetics and Executive Director of the M·A·C AIDS Fund. Nancy serves as a member of the brand's senior management team while overseeing the strategic direction and day-to-day operation of the M·A·C AIDS Fund. The Fund was established in 1994 by M∙A∙C Cosmetics to support men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS globally through the sale of VIVA GLAM lip products. To date, M∙A∙C Cosmetics has provided over $145 million to the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund. The M∙A∙C AIDS Fund is the heart and soul of the company — with its employees giving their time, energy and talent to help those affected by HIV/AIDS worldwide. 
Jason McFarlane serves as the Programme Director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG). He served as a volunteer when it was founded in December 1998 and then joined the management team at J-FLAG in February 2008. J-FLAG is the first human rights organization in Jamaica's history to serve the needs of lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgendered persons. Its first major undertaking was a submission to the Joint Select Committee on the Charter of Rights Bill seeking to amend the non-discrimination clause of the Constitution of Jamaica to include 'Sexual Orientation' among its protected groups. Since that time the organization has expanded its Legal Reform and Advocacy efforts, and expanded its activities to include Educational and Social Service Programs. 
Jon Sawyer is founding director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization that funds independent reporting with the intent of engaging the broadest possible public in critically important global issues. The Center funds some 40 reporting projects a year, partnering with major newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets. It is also creator of the innovative educational outreach programs Global Gateway and Campus Consortium. 
Rachel Tiven is the executive director of Immigration Equality, a national organization fighting for equal immigration rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive community. Under her leadership, Immigration Equality has doubled in size, quadrupled client services, and opened a policy office in Washington, D.C. Ms. Tiven received her law degree from Columbia Law School and her bachelor's degree from Harvard University. She has represented immigrant clients at the Legal Aid Society of New York and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Barbara S. Jones in the Southern District of New York. Before becoming an attorney, Ms. Tiven was a reporter and television producer for Bloomberg Business News, and a member of Lambda Legal's media team.

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