Cyndee Clay, Executive Director
Ms. Clay has advocated for, by and with individuals engaged in sex work or sex for gain with since 1995. She has developed harm reduction based programs and provided technical assistance and training for medical and social service providers both in the U.S. and internationally on topics including HIV Prevention, LGBT Sensitivity, Sex Work and Harm Reduction. Ms. Clay served as foundation representative on the Ms. Foundation’s first collaborative for Healthy Girls/Healthy Women, and serves on Washington DC’s Community HIV Prevention Planning Group, and the Health Department’s working group on Substance Use and HIV, and represents the District of Columbia on the national Urban Coalition of HIV/AIDS Prevention Services.
Elizabeth Saracco, Director of Programs
Elizabeth Saracco has been with HIPS since Valentine’s Day 2003.Ms. Saracco works closely with the Executive Director in all aspects of program development and organizational goals. She is responsible for HIPS program supervision, evaluation and administration as well as acting as a liaison to foundation and public funders. Ms. Saracco has developed and implemented numerous interventions including, “Choices” for NJ DOH and “Charm School” for HIPS which provides peer support, health education, goal setting and advocacy geared towards women who use drugs. She has also worked as a consultant for NECAPT (Northeast Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies-) and has presented various workshops on peer based strategies regarding public health and issues around the sex work community at national and international conferences. Ms. Saracco possesses an AA in Liberal Studies from Harcum College, BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a MS in Clinical Psychology from California Coast University. While not doing HIPS stuff Ms. Saracco likes collecting 80’s punk and metal records, watching Arsenal F.C. matches, and experimenting with eye shadow.
Angel Brown,Client Advocate
Angel Brown entered in the movement in 2007, when she came to HIPS (Helping Individuals Prostitutes Survive) as a full time volunteer giving as many as thirty-five (35) hours each week of her time. In 2009, she was invited to join the Peer Education Program and has grown through that program to her current position as HIPS’ Client Advocate. Angel provides one-on-one counseling, HIV/HCV testing and linkage, assistance with referrals and currently manages the Social Networking Program- an incentive run program designed to reach sex workers and drug users in their communities and meeting their needs where they are, as they are.
Ed Gadson has been working in the HIV field for the past 16 years. After spending 2 years in Buffalo NY as a Peer Educator for the American Red Cross, 6 years in Tampa Florida as a Medical Advocate he moved the DC Metropolitan area and started working at K.I. services Inc as an Outreach Specialist and HIV Testing Counselor. Ed came to HIPS in November 2010.
The District of Columbia has more HIV-AIDS cases than any city in the country. Here, a staggering 1 out of 20 people is infected with the virus. And like most American cities with an HIV-AIDS problem, the burden disproportionately falls on the black community. In fact, more than 80 percent of all new cases in the district are African-Americans. What’s even more alarming is that it as estimated that a third of the people infected nation wide don’t even know their infected, thus the rate of infection continues to grow.
HIPS has taking a strong stand to fight the spread of the virus by hiring Edward Gadson to implement an aggressive testing program targeting high risk areas and populations, to not only test those at risk, but to also look at the risk factors and help those at risk by setting safer goal behaviors and creating an action plain based on the Harm Reduction model.
Catherine started as an AIDS United Americorps member serving for one year in the HIPS Outreach Department. She was born and raised in the Philippines, and received her BA from Wheaton College, where she studied Communication/Theater and Urban Studies. Before she came to DC, she did outreach to male sex workers as an intern at a Chicago non-profit; did research on public policy, enforcement, and the risks of sex work. She also explores her passion for storytelling and advocacy as a stage actor and theater artist.