Welcome Toni Newman

NMAC is pleased to welcome Toni Newman (tnewman@nmac.org) as our new director of NMAC’s Coalition for Justice and Equality Across Movements. I got to know Toni when she was the acting Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute. Her leadership and unique understanding of the intersectional nature of HIV made her ideal for NMAC.  Toni’s book, I Rise–The Transformation of Toni Newman is the true story of her transformation from an internally conflicted male to a proud, pre-operative transsexual. Born the eldest son into a strict Christian family, Toni knew from her earliest days that she “was a different bird born in the wrong body.”

This year is NMAC’s Love Letter to Black Women and Toni is part of that commitment. The agency prioritizes leaders with “lived experience” from the communities highly impacted by HIV.  Toni will bring together movements including and beyond HIV to stand for justice and equality. The world feels very unsafe for people who are different. NMAC believes alliances are the only pathway out. Individually, we are too small, but look what happens when we fight together.

As a Black Transgender Woman, Toni sits at the intersection of the communities who are demonized by extremists. Her life belies their narrative. But she’s going to need your help. None of us can do this alone. This must be a group effort. NMAC hired Toni with unrestricted dollars. We hope to get corporate and foundation support because responding requires money. The HIV movement needs a strong NMAC who can fight back during these difficult times.

Last week we got disturbing news from the state of Tennessee. There were many calls to discuss strategy. What works in a blue state may not work in a deep red one. Like HIV prevention, there is not one size fits all and we need to follow the local community. The last thing they need is for nationals to go stomping into their business.

Here’s what you should expect from NMAC,

  • We work in partnership.
  • The agency listens to and follow the local community.
  • We want to help with our DC connections; however, sometimes they might be more of a hinderance during these divided political times.
  • NMAC fights for all the communities highly impacted by HIV.
  • Our work is connected to a much larger struggle for justice and equality in America.

In the new Congress, things are happening in the Rules Committee and the debt limit that should give everyone pause. It seems like the next two years will be fighting just to keep the status quo and there are no guarantees your DC based agencies can make that happen. A CR (continuing resolution) is a win in this Congress. There are very real extremists in the House who will bankrupt the nation to prove their point. They are playing Russian Roulette with our future and we all lose.

The Partnership to End the HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis epidemics recently met to determine our 2023 priorities:

1. Maintain and Grow Federal Appropriations for HIV, STD, and Hepatitis programs

  • Funding for National PrEP Initiative
  • Recast a continuing resolution (CR) as a win
  1. Defense Against the Extreme Measures in Congress
  • Concerns about efforts to target communities highly impacted by HIV
  • Especially impact on Transgender Community
  1. Protect Harm Reduction
  • Specifically Syringe Services Programs (SSP)
  1. Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE)
  • Funding levels: Support White House request for $900 million
  • National PrEP Program as part of our EHE strategy
  1. Push for Syndemic Solutions

I hope NMAC shows by our words and deeds that we are committed to working collaboratively and to fight for the communities hardest hit by multiple epidemics. The war is starting and it’s time to get ready.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata (circa 1979)