Board of Trustees
Program Advisory Council
Scientific Advisory Committee
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
120 Wall Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10005-3908
Dear amfAR leadership,
It has recently come to light that in 2015, Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein offered to donate items to an auction intending to benefit amfAR, under the condition that the money raised would be split between the American Repertory Theater (ART), from which Mr. Weinstein would benefit financially, and amfAR.
According to reports in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and NBC News, Kenneth Cole, amfAR’s Board Chairperson, agreed to Mr. Weinstein’s strings-attached “donation” for the Cannes auction, over the written objections of amfAR’s staff leadership.
Eventually, this led to the resignations of several amfAR Board members and a civil investigation by the New York State Attorney General. On November 2, 2017, The New York Times reported that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has opened a criminal investigation into the matter.
We, as people living with HIV, advocates, allies, funders and policy and service professionals, urge Kenneth Cole, and remaining board members who supported this inappropriate transaction, to resign from amfAR’s Board of Trustees. And given that the board has operated for decades without term limits, we recommend that the current board immediately begin a managed turnover to an entirely new group of qualified trustees.
Kenneth Cole’s long tenure with amfAR includes many meaningful achievements and raising significant resources for HIV research. But it is time for amfAR – which grew out of a grassroots community of people with HIV/AIDS, frontline clinicians, researchers, activists and our closest allies — to be fully accountable to the community and totally focused on achieving its mission.
While the full details of what occurred in the dealings with Harvey Weinstein and the “donation” of amfAR funds to ART have yet to emerge, it is absolutely clear that the organization needs new leadership for its Board of Trustees. Anything less risks severely damaging amfAR’s reputation and its important work.
We urge these steps be taken quickly and without delay.
Counter Narrative Project
Mississippi Positive Network
Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA)
U.S. People Living With HIV Caucus
Woodhull Freedom Foundation
Tracy Baim, Windy City Times (Publisher)
Gwenn Barringer, HIV Educator, shawnandgwenn.com
Roscoe Boyd II, Prevention Access Campaign
Larry Bryant, NAMI-NYC (Support Programs Coordinator)
Barb Cardell, Colorado Mod Squad, PWN-USA
Marco Castro-Bojorquez, Venas Abiertas and U.S. PLHIV Caucus (Steering Committee)
JD Davids, thebody.com
Shawn Decker, HIV Educator, shawnandgwenn.com
Carrie Foote, PhD, IUPUI; HIV Modernization Movement-Indiana (Chair)
David Gold, Global Health Strategies (CEO), former Director Medical Information, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, former Executive Director, HIV Vaccine Enterprise
Ian Grubb, Former Senior Adviser, Global Fund
Tami Haught, Sero Project (Organizing & Training Coordinator), Positive Iowans Taking Charge (Founder)
Bryan C. Jones, Garden Valley Neighborhood House
Cleve Jones, Author, Activist, The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt (Founder)
Naina Khanna, PWN-USA (Executive Director)
Mark S. King, myfabulousdisease.com
Larry Kramer, Author, Activist, Founder of both Gay Men’s Health Crisis & ACT UP
James B Krellenstein, ACT UP/New York
Kamaria Laffrey, emPOWERed Legacies (Founder)
Ricci Levy, Woodhull Freedom Foundation (President)
Kevin Lish, Idaho Coalition for HIV Health and Safety
Greg Louganis, Olympic Diver, Author, LGBT Activist, Motivational Speaker
Craig McClure, Former Chief, HIV/AIDS, UNICEF
Warren Alexander O’Meara-Dates, The 6:52 Project Foundation, Inc.
Akil Patterson, Community Advocacy Consultants (Founder & President)
Ken Pinkela, Sero Project Military Policy Project (Director)
Frank Pizzoli, Positive Opportunities, Inc.
Arthur W. Powers, THRIVE! – The PLWHIV Initiative of Colorado (Managing Director), ACT UP Denver (Originator & Co-Founder)
Noah Raper, Long-term Survivor and Thriver
Venita Ray, Texans Living with HIV Network
David Russell, Artist Manager
Charles Sanchez, Merce, The Series (Creator & Co-Producer)
Cristine Sardina, BWS, MSJ, Desiree Alliance (Director)
Christopher Schelling, Literary Agent
Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal (HIV Project Director)
Waheedah Shabazz-El, PWN-USA (Organizing Director)
Mike Shriver, amfAR (Board Member, 1993-2004)
Bill Snow, AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (Co-Founder)
Andrew Spieldenner, PhD, U.S. PLHIV Caucus (Chair)
Peter Staley, amfAR (Board Member, 1991-2004), Treatment Action Group (Co-Founder)
Charles Stephens, Counter Narrative Project (Executive Director)
Cindy Stine, Triversity Center (Board Chair), Sero Project (Project Coordinator)
Sean Strub, POZ Magazine (Founder), Sero Project (Executive Director)
Teresa Sullivan, PWN-USA (Board Member)
Tom Viola, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (Executive Director)
Larry Walker, Thrive SS (CEO)
Robin Webb, Mississippi Positive Network (Founding Director)
Victor Zonana, Global Health Strategies (Co-Founder), former VP, Communications, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
Unless otherwise indicated, organizations and positions listed only for identification purposes.