Well Done: Honoring Dr. Mark Colomb
By Khafre Abif
March 30, 2011
For the past several days I have been reminded once again, that tomorrow is never promised. My mentor, Dr. Mark A. Colomb (1963-2011), Founder/President of My Brother's Keeper, Inc., has transitioned.
Dr. Mark A. Colomb was a staunch warrior and activist whose passion and commitment to Mississippi, the South and particular focus on responding to the needs of Black men who have sex with men (MSM) have left a legacy of leadership.
My Brother's Keeper, Inc., (MBK) traces its roots to 1998 when 33 African Americans convinced the Congressional Black Caucus to make Congress fund HIV/AIDS to reduce the burden on the African-American community. During this meeting, Dr. Mark Colomb recognized this issue as a health disparity and envisioned an organization to address this need.
Under the leadership of Dr. Colomb, MBK was established first as an entity in 1999 dedicated to the prevention, care and treatment of persons living with HIV/AIDS. Since then, the agency's mission and vision has been adopted into overall health disparities in African Americans including cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and obesity. As it exists today, MBK is a seasoned organization pursuing the health and well being of minorities through public health programming. MBK is a national organization with over 500,000 constituents and members from across the United States.
It was more than a year ago when Dr. Mark A. Colomb recognized that there was a lack of Black male leadership in the room where the decisions were being made about the health and welfare of Black men who have sex with men. During the last year of his life he committed his time, networks and resources to changing that dilemma.
The Health Executive Approaches to Leadership and Training in HIV Program (HEALTH) Leadership Shule was created by Dr. Mark A. Colomb and the staff of MBK to enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities of Black MSMs for assuming a leadership/management position in the field of health with particular focus on HIV. Having the opportunity to participate in the inaugural class of the Leadership Shule, graduating in January 2011 as Dr. Mark Colomb literally passed the torch, we knew that our mission was clear.
In Dr. Mark Colomb I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the highest standard of servant leadership, and was strengthened in my service to push back, step outside of myself to create the community in which I want to live.
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Khafre K. Abif, AIDS activist, has been thriving with HIV for more than 20 years and is a father of two teenage boys. Khafre is the Founder/Executive Director of Cycle for Freedom. Khafre is one of five men in the inaugural class of The HEALTH (Health Executive Approaches to Leadership and Training in HIV) Seminar Program developed by My Brother's Keeper, Inc. He has also served as the Community Co-Chair for the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. As a librarian in his first career, Khafre was the first recipient of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA)'s Dr. John C. Tyson Emerging Leader Award. Forthcoming books include Raising Kazembe and Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems and Affirmation for People Living with HIV/AIDS.
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