A Final Executive Message from Brian Lester
With this being my final offering in our agency newsletter, I can’t help but reflect on the past 16 years with profound appreciation for how this experience impacted my professional and personal life. I came to the AIDS Committee of London, affectionately known as ACOL, in October 2006 and could never have imagined the journey ahead of me. At the time of joining this small but mighty social justice organization we had a staff of approximately 12 individuals. With this group of people, I found a team deeply committed to and courageously advancing social justice efforts for those living with and affected by HIV/HCV and related issues. Further, as a queer man entering this space, I remember thinking how affirming the environment left me feeling. I felt I was able to be my “whole self” in the space. While I felt mostly comfortable as a gay man in other work environments throughout my career, ACOL offered me the gift of a deeper sense of belonging. I hold immense gratitude for this gift!
Present-day RHAC has over 70 employees and a range of programs across three locations. Even with such growth, RHAC is still about people! Connecting to people, supporting people, and aligning with other people who are fighting for a better world for those impacted by the issues we exist to address. There are so many people who have touched my life in profound ways while doing this work. I know if I try to list you all, I will inadvertently miss someone. I simply want to offer my sincerest thank you to the many RHAC team members, community partners, supporters and volunteers, people living with HIV or HCV and those who are impacted by addiction. I have learned from you, grown from your wisdom, and laughed with you. I have also cried with you in the tragic loss and injustice associated with this work. I believe that throughout this journey, in service to the RHAC mission, we have truly actualized “The Courage to Do what Is Right." In this experience, I strived to serve the RHAC mission to the best of my ability. Throughout, I was surrounded by remarkable people that found their way to this organization!
I honour all the amazing people who have supported me throughout my RHAC journey - I will miss you.