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New Leader in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Harriet C. Babbitt Named as Executive Director of AIDS Action

September 17, 2001

Washington, DC -- AIDS Action announced today that Harriet C. (Hattie) Babbitt is taking the helm as the organization's next executive director, effective immediately.

Until recently, Babbitt served for three years as Deputy Administrator for USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, occupying the #2 position at the multibillion a year agency. Prior to that, she served for four years as United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS).

AIDS Action, named by The New York Times as "among the country's most powerful advocacy groups," was founded in 1984, and is the only organization solely dedicated to advocating for responsible federal policy for improved HIV/AIDS care and services, medical research and effective prevention. Considered to be "the national voice on AIDS," the organization is composed of the AIDS Action Council and the AIDS Action Foundation.

Said Babbitt upon her appointment, “The face of HIV/AIDS in America has changed over its 20-year history. Youth and communities of color have become the most at-risk groups, showing increased numbers of new HIV infections. I am proud to have this unique opportunity to make a difference for those who have been left behind in the fight against HIV and AIDS."

Said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) of Babbitt’s appointment, "The domestic and global battle against AIDS is far from over. Hattie's experience, ability and commitment will be invaluable for AIDS Action in its ongoing leadership in this vitally important cause."

Hattie Babbitt has spent much of her life trying to improve the conditions of America’s underserved communities. She has also worked extensively on international human rights issues, strengthening the inter-American human rights system while Ambassador to the OAS, and has traveled the globe to provide humanitarian relief on every continent, in areas ranging from Kosovo to East Timor. At USAID, Babbitt did HIV/AIDS work in Africa and South Asia and led numerous health-related strategic initiatives.

"HIV prevention and access to care will continue to be key agenda items for AIDS Action," Babbitt said. "I am determined to strengthen AIDS Action’s strong presence on Capitol Hill and among other service organizations, and will administer a dynamic public policy campaign to raise the level of commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention, research, and care at the federal level."

"AIDS Action is fortunate to bring such a well-respected individual to our advocacy efforts, and we are eager for the weight of her experience to be felt among key decision-makers in Washington,” said John Michael Gonzalez, chair of AIDS Action's Foundation Board, and Tony Braswell, President of AIDS Action’s Council Board, in a joint statement. “With her years of experience and political prowess, Hattie brings a new vision and revitalized mission to AIDS Action, and will help guarantee that effective treatment and prevention programs are being delivered to everyone affected by HIV/AIDS.”

Babbitt is an attorney and has most recently served as Senior Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Among her many other civic commitments, she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Alan Guttmacher Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Babbitt succeeds Claudia French, who left AIDS Action in June to serve as executive director of the Gill Foundation in Denver, Colorado. Andres Ilves will continue to serve as AIDS Action’s Deputy Executive Director.

Statements on Harriet C. Babbitt (Hattie)

"Her insight and deep understanding of the inner workings of Washington will only enhance AIDS Action’s skilled team of professionals. AIDS Action could not have chosen a more effective leader."

-- Senator Tom Harkin

"The domestic and global battle against AIDS is far from over. Hattie's experience, ability and commitment will be invaluable for AIDS Action in its ongoing leadership in this vitally important cause."

-- Senator Edward Kennedy

"AIDS Action could have no more influential nor effective leader to get its message heard. Hattie’s work over the last two decades is the definition of effectiveness and her bipartisan achievements in public policy will undoubtedly carry over to help HIV/AIDS populations in need."

-- Senator John McCain

"AIDS Action can expect a bright future with Hattie’s involvement. With her accomplishments in public service and success record for ensuring the health and well being of the underserved, the AIDS Action agenda is in very capable hands."

-- Representative Nancy Pelosi

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
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