2022 Keynote SPEAKERS
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Demetre Daskalakis, MD

Director - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of HIV Prevention

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis is the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.  He began his career as an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital in NYC where he spearheaded several public health programs focused on community HIV testing and prevention. He has since served in a number of capacities in both healthcare and public health in NYC. Most recently, he served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Daskalakis directed the public health laboratory and all infectious disease control programs for NYC, including HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, vaccine-preventable diseases, and general communicable diseases. In addition to his leadership in daily infectious disease control efforts, he has served as the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene incident commander during the measles outbreak of 2018-2019, as well as the current COVID-19 public health emergency since January 2020.  Dr. Daskalakis grew up in Arlington, Virginia. He received his medical education from the NYU School of Medicine and completed his residency training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He also completed clinical infectious disease fellowships at the Brigham and Women’s Massachusetts General Hospital combined program and received a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 scholarly articles and has received numerous awards for his scientific and public health contributions, including the Treatment Action Group Research in Action Award, the Latino Commission on AIDS Esperanza Award, the GMHC Hector Xtravagnza Xcellence Award, and the World AIDS Day awards from both New York City and New York State. He has also been recognized as a prominent voice for the LGBTQIA+ community by the New York Times, City and State, Out magazine, Metrosource, and Paper magazine. Dr. Daskalakis is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in HIV prevention and has focused much of his career on the treatment and prevention of HIV and other STIs as an activist physician with a focus on LGBTQIA+ communities. He has also dedicated much of his time to improving the health of underserved communities and is passionate about addressing health equity. Dr. Daskalakis joined the CDC as the Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention in December 2020 and has most recently been assigned the role of Senior Lead, Equity in COVID-19 Data and Engagement in the CDC response to the pandemic.

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Dafina Ward, J.D. 

Executive Director - Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC)

Dafina Ward, J.D. is an attorney and non-profit strategist with nearly fifteen years of experience addressing HIV and health equity issues in the southern United States.  Working in partnership with a range of advocates—from grassroots leaders to federal decision-makers—she is a trusted voice in regional and national spaces.  Dafina currently serves as Executive Director of the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), an organization with a regional focus and national reach, with a mission to end the HIV and STI epidemics in the South.  SAC utilizes community-centered policy advocacy, grantmaking, leadership development, and capacity-building trainings to support transformation in the region.  SAC created Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day [SHAAD] in 2019 to amplify the HIV crisis in the region.  SHAAD is now a nationally recognized day adopted by hundreds of organizations and reaching thousands annually. Dafina shares her reflections on the intersections of race, gender, and health through writing, with work appearing in the Washington Post, Role Reboot, and The Body.  She was recognized by POZ Magazine twice in 2021—as the July/August POZ Hero and as a member of the 2021 POZ 100 (the magazine’s list of the 100 most influential Black HIV advocates in the nation). Dafina received her BA in Mass Media Arts from Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA) and her Juris Doctor from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law (Philadelphia, PA). She and her husband reside in Bluffton, South Carolina with their brilliant daughters.

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Larry Walker

Cofounder - Transforming HIV Resentments into Victories Everlasting Support Services (THRIVE SS Inc)

Larry Walker, a Baltimore native, is an author, poet, and proud black gay man living with HIV. Larry’s passion for community would land him working at various community-based and AIDS service organizations (ASO) before cofounding Transforming HIV Resentments into Victories Everlasting Support Services (THRIVE SS Inc) in 2015. Larry often states, “there is no pill to rebuild will” meaning that no biomedical intervention can reverse the damage done by stigma and hate and it is the community’s responsibility to love, heal and fortify itself.