Claudia French Named Executive Director of AIDS Action

Proven advocacy and charity leader takes helm to ensure strong response to AIDS during new Administration

Washington, D.C. -- AIDS Action announced today that proven advocacy and charity leader Claudia French has been named executive director of the organization effective immediately. French has led the organization in an acting capacity during the past year and held several leadership positions with AIDS Action since January 1996.

French joined the fight against AIDS to honor her brother David who died of the disease in 1988. Throughout his struggle, French was inspired by the support of local AIDS organizations that came to his aid when other health care providers were refusing to treat people with AIDS. AIDS Action serves as the voice for thousands of local AIDS service providers, like the ones who cared for her brother.

"Although the epidemic has changed greatly since David's death, our need for a forceful commitment to fighting the disease remains as strong as ever," said French.

During her tenure at AIDS Action, French led the organization to policy victories, including passage of the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization, record financial stability, growth in the diversity and size of its governing boards, the purchase of a national headquarters and the recruitment of some of Washington's best policy and political leaders.

"Claudia's exceptional experience and abilities will serve us all as we continue the battle to ensure the health and welfare of millions of people living with HIV and AIDS," said Terry Stone, Chair of AIDS Action's Council Board. "Never before has an AIDS Action executive director been backed by such a spectacular track record in the fight against AIDS," added John Michael Gonzalez, chair of AIDS Action's Foundation Board.

French plans to focus on working with the new Administration on full funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, increased funding for HIV prevention and for the war on global AIDS and a continued aggressive search for a cure. In particular, she plans to focus on ensuring that communities of color, frequently left behind in the fight against the epidemic, are given equitable treatment in federal AIDS programs.

"Having worked on the Board of AIDS Action for over two years, I can say with great confidence that Claudia French is poised to further our commitment to the global and domestic response to HIV/AIDS," declared Ronald Dellums, former Congressman, AIDS Action board member, and President of Health Care International Management Company. "Bringing Rae Lewis-Thornton on to the AIDS Action staff is one example of her commitment to new leadership reflecting today's epidemic."

"Claudia has had an outstanding record of success at AIDS Action, and she will be an effective voice for the millions of people who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic," added Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

Prior to joining AIDS Action, French served as development director for Goodwill Industries in Baltimore and led development and public relations for the Girl Scouts Chesapeake Bay Council.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, French is 50 and lives in Washington, D.C.