5th Annual Red Gala
A trailblazer or “Flame Thrower” is defined as an individual or pioneer who lights a path or passageway for future successors to follow in a particular field or endeavor through unexplored territory. Through a formal ceremony to be held Saturday, June 10, the 2017 SOS Planning Committee, Board and Volunteers of The Red Door Foundation are excited to announce the 2017 Flame Throwers. Official Press Release
Date and Location: Saturday, June 10, 2017 at Hilton Jackson
Time: 6:00 pm- Cocktail Hour, 7:00 pm- Presentation
Cost: In Advance: $50.00, At the Door: $65.00 limited space
Julian Walker was just your average Hattiesburg, Mississippi college student when he attended an open call audition for a feature film shooting locally. Mr. Walker's untapped, natural talent caught the eye of writer-director Patrik-Ian Polk (Punks, Noah's Arc, The Skinny) and he landed the lead role of Randy Rousseau in the Mississippi-set coming-of-age drama "Blackbird" co-staring Oscar-winner Mo'Nique and veteran actor Isaiah Washington. You can catch Julian on the new season of BET's hits series Being Mary Jane as the talented, hip, always "in the know" employee Tyrone "Ty" Nicholson (Mary Jane Paul's hairstylist). He is the recipient of the 2016 Humanitarian Award of Television & Film at the Visions Community Foundations award ceremony, for his hard work within the community.
2017 Flame Thrower Honorees
Gina Brown, MSW
Gina Brown is a Regional Organizer with Southern AIDS Coalition. She has worked in the field of HIV for 14 years and has been living with HIV for 22 years. Gina graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southern University at New Orleans, with a Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in History in 2011. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work in 2012. Gina is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). Gina has served on numerous boards and committees. Gina is a Public Speaker and Community Advocate. She has appeared in many magazines and publications, most recently she was featured in Ebony and Jet magazine. Gina is an Ambassador for the Greater than AIDS Initiative, appearing in the Women, HIV, and Intimate Partner Violence video. Gina truly believes in service work and has made it her life’s mission to help the broader community gain a higher level of health literacy.
Keith Green, MSW
Keith R. Green is a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. His dissertation research is focused on the implications of antiretroviral-based prevention approaches on the “institutional logics” (or organizing principles) of HIV prevention, with a specific focus on community-based organizations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Memphis and New Orleans.
Keith graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern Illinois University and earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a concentration in mental health. He is a founding member of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus as well as an award-winning spoken word artist, HIV/AIDS activist, social justice advocate, and community journalist. He previously served as Project Director for one of the first studies to explore the acceptability and feasibility of conducting a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) trial among young men who have sex with men. Concerned with the real world implications of this work, he went on to serve as Director of Federal Affairs for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. There, he advocated for and monitored the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), with a specific focus on understanding the implications of these legislative feats for increasing access to prevention and treatment services among the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Tonya Green, MPH, ACRN
Tonya Green serves as the Director of Social Services and the Program Manager for the Ryan White Program at Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. (SeMRHI). She manages the day-to- day administrative, fiscal and clinical operations of the 2nd largest HIV care provider in Mississippi. The Ryan White Program is a federally funded program that provides HIV care, treatment, and supportive services for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH). She also serves as a contract Clinical Consultant for the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration/ HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA/HAB) for the Ryan White Programs, Parts C and D. In this role, she travels throughout the United States to Ryan White funded sites to review the clinical aspects of the program to ensure that federal clinical guidelines are being followed. Under her leadership, the Ryan White Program at SeMRHI has evolved from solely care, treatment and medical case management to a comprehensive model of care that provides an array of on-site medical and support services.
Tonya completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1994 and Master of Public Health in 2002, both from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has over 20 years of nursing experience with 14 of those years working in HIV/AIDS care and treatment. She is also an AIDS certified registered nurse (ACRN).
Tonya’s accomplishments extend beyond the clinical scope of HIV/AIDS care and treatment. She currently serves as the community co-chair for the Mississippi HIV/AIDS Planning Council. The planning council consists of representatives from all state funded Ryan White Programs, AIDS Services Organizations, Community Based Organizations, and consumers. The council plans, coordinates, and implements care and treatment, and prevention activities to bring awareness and education about HIV/AIDS to the residents of Mississippi. She is a member of Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) and serves as a board member for AIDS Services Coalition.
Tonya also frequently serves as a panelist and presenter for various HIV/AIDS education and prevention events locally and nationally. Most recently, she served as both a panelist and presenter at the 2016 National Ryan White Conference in Washington, DC on the quality management activities for HIV care & treatment in Mississippi. She has been recognized by the Mississippi Primary Healthcare Association as Health Care Professional of the Year in April 2010. She is a Diamond Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and she is active in the Hattiesburg Alumnae chapter. Tonya is the mother of two teenage daughters, Raegan and Alexandria.
Despite the medical advances in HIV/AIDS care and treatment, stigma continues to greatly impact a patient’s willingness to get tested and seek medical care. Tonya’s mission is to assist in alleviating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in hopes that one day our community will learn to accept and support those living with the disease just like other chronic illnesses.
Trina Scott is the Program Manager, Health Communications and Media Partnerships at Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, DC. She is responsible for developing and managing partnerships with national leadership and community organizations, managing large-scale community activations, and serving as primary as the liaison with Greater Than AIDS Ambassadors. She has been actively involved in HIV/AIDS, sexuality education and adolescent sexual health 20 years. Trina has dedicated her life to community activism through educating, advocating, and delivering prevention messages related to health issue for youth and young adults. She also serves as the founder for the Women of Color Sexual Health Network, a group of women both domestic and international with a focus on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women of color. As the Black Sex Coach, Trina’s helping individuals and couples achieve their desired sexual potential through transformative experience. Her approach is interdisciplinary and rooted in pleasure for all parties involved. Her extensive background in training, positive youth development, engaging approaches to working with populations that are living with HIV, and capacity building makes Trina an amazing advocate and facilitator.
Trina holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Management/Nutrition from Howard University and graduate studies at the University of Maryland, University College. She is among the first graduating class of The Black AIDS Institute’s African American HIV University Community Mobilization College. She hails from Fayetteville, NC and currently resides in Washington, DC.
Cedric Sturdevant has been working in the field of HIV prevention for ten years. He started as a volunteer with Magnolia Medical Clinic (MMC) in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 2006 where he participated in health fairs and health summits to assist in pre and post counseling for rapid HIV testing.
Cedric is an advocate for HIV, working with and training HIV-positive people to be an advocate for themselves and others through a program called AIDSWatch Mississippi. Cedric is also the organizational co-chair for Black Treatment Advocates Network [BTAN] Mississippi. Presently, he is continuing his education in Applied Behavior Science at Ashford University.
Over the past eight years, Cedric has had the opportunity to work as a Project Coordinator at My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., a private, nonprofit, 501(c)3 dedicated to the reduction of health disparities throughout Mississippi by enhancing the health and wellbeing of minority and marginalized populations. During his time at My Brother’s Keeper, locally referred to as MBK, Cedric has had the opportunity to share with others the importance of HIV prevention, education and awareness. In addition to working for MBK, Cedric has been featured on the documentary “Deepsouth” which focuses on the plight of individuals living with HIV in the Deep South, and has been featured in various public service campaigns spreading knowledge and awareness of HIV. Cedric embodies and takes to heart his personal philosophy, the quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about the things that matter.”
Presently, Cedric is working as a Project Manager at Jackson Medical Mall Foundation under the CARE4ME and the SPOT programs.
Darrell P. Wheeler, PhD, MPH, ACSW
Dr. Wheeler is Interim Provost & Sr. VP for Academic Affairs and Vice Provost for Public Engagement at the University at Albany - SUNY. Previously he was Dean of Social Welfare University at Albany – SUNY and Dean School of Social Work Loyola University Chicago. Wheeler has also held academic positions at Hunter College, Columbia University, and the University of North Carolina – Greensboro.
He is an educator and researcher on HIV prevention and intervention in the African-American gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. His work has been funded by key health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent research studies include HPTN073 protocol chair; co-chair for HPTN061 (NIH sponsored) and Principal Investigator for B-ME (CDC sponsored). His work has demonstrated a deep understanding of social work practice methods and the social work community. Wheeler has used research to advance the use of data and evidence in developing innovative programs and policy initiatives.
He currently services as Vice Chair of the US Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and is the President of the US Board of the National Association of Social Workers. He has also served on the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. In 2015, he was named among the 30 most influential social workers alive today.
Wheeler earned his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 1992, a master’s degree in public health at the University of Pittsburgh in 1990, a master in social work from Howard University in 1988, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cornell College in 1981.
MUSED Magazine Online
MUSED Magazine Online is award-winning digital destination for news, opinion, life and culture for modern black gay men. MUSED served as the authoritative voice for black gay men created by Drew Shane Daniels.
The online magazine featured commentary, opinions and features that raised awareness within our community. With an popular daily blog averaging almost 2 million pageviews a year, MUSED was a reliable source for readers. The immersive content experience, which magazines are known for, allowed new interactive features to stimulate reader engagement for young, progressive black gay men.
Since the launch in 2012, MUSED was featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, BET, Queerty and Buzzfeed, among other places. MUSED was voted as BEST LGBT Blog for the Black Weblog Awards. The online magazine has also served as the backdrop to college theses and classroom curriculum at prominent universities like Columbia University and University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.
MUSED Magazine Online discontinued its online presence in the Fall of 2016 after 5 years garnering almost 2 million pageviews a year. Many of its writers have went on to tell stories of black gay men in New York Times, publishing children’s books on gender, started podcasts and even features on Fadar, Complex and Ebony. Traditionally, these spaces haven't always favored points of view from LGBTQ perspective .
Black Fusion integrates their passion for social justice with their deep love of soulful music to create experiences that audiences will never forget. Black Fusion is a duo featuring: Ebony Gordon, 25, and Justin Lofton, 25, both of Nashville, Tennessee. Gospel, Rhythm and Blues and Jazz are just a few of the musical tenants that they bring to the floor and pair them with issues of police brutality, poverty and HIV/AIDS, just to name of few.
Past Flame Thrower Honorees
Dr. June Gipson
Dr. Leando Mena
Dr. Marye Bernard
Anthony E. Fox
Reverend Edwin Sanders
Chris Sinnock, LMSW
Young Brother's United- Nashville, Tenn.
Dr. Dazon Dixon Diallo
Dorcas Young- Griffin, MPH
Delta Phi Upsilon Fraternity Inc.
Leisha McKinley- Beach
Dr. David Malebranche
Greg Millet, MPH
Valerie Spencer, MSW
My Brother's Keeper- Jackson, Miss.