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2022 Keynote SPEAKERS

Ada D. Stewart, MD, FAAFP

Board Chair - American Academy of Family Physicians

Ada D. Stewart, MD, FAAFP, a family physician with Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, is the Board Chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians and recent Past President. Stewart was the first African American Female President of the American Academy of Family Physicians. The AAFP represents 127,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. As AAFP board chair, Stewart advocates on behalf of family physicians and patients to inspire positive change in the U.S. health care system.

Stewart has been a practicing family physician with Cooperative Health, formerly Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers, since 2012 and currently serves as lead provider and HIV specialist. She has held many leadership positions on the local, state, and national levels. She has been a staunch advocate for marginalized populations, individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and those of trans experience.

Stewart is also a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the National Medical Association, the American Medical Women’s Association, and many others.


Born and raised in an underserved urban area of Cleveland, Ohio, Stewart has committed her career to ensuring that low-income and uninsured families have access to high-quality health care. She began her career as a National Health Service Corps scholar, caring for underserved patients in rural South Carolina. She continues to work with underserved communities in both rural and urban settings. She was recognized in 2017 for her dedicated service in hepatitis C treatment and prevention by the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council. She was recognized in April 2018 by the South Carolina Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women with the Health Award in recognition of her contributions to the health of the community in Columbia. Stewart has been named to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, where she continues to serve. In 2020, she was honored by the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina Senate for her contributions to the healthcare of the State of South Carolina and for her leadership on a national level community. Stewart has been an advocate for the COVID Pandemic and vaccinations and has been highlighted on National TV and numerous medical channels.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, Stewart enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves and achieved the rank of Colonel.

She is a preceptor for nurse practitioners, medical residents, and medical students and has received numerous awards, including the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society 2012 Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award for her precepting at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. She also conducts continuing education programs relating to HIV, health disparities, transgender care, hospice and palliative medicine, and hepatitis C.


Stewart earned her Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. Realizing she wanted to have a more direct impact on patients' lives and well-being, she returned to school, completing her medical degree at the Medical College of Ohio and her family medicine residency training at Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. Stewart has also earned additional certification in HIV care from the American Academy of HIV Medicine and is certified as a hospice medical director by the Hospice Medical Director Certification Board.

Stewart is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She has the AAFP Degree of Fellow, an earned degree awarded to family physicians for distinguished service and continuing medical education. 

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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.

Gail Bolan
Derek Spencer
Gina Brown
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