03 Apr 2017
GNP+ Appoints Human Rights Activist as Its New Executive Director
3 April 2017
Dear Partners and Allies,
The Board of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) is pleased to welcome Dr. Laurel Sprague as our new Executive Director. Dr. Sprague is a passionate social justice activist and a widely respected educator and researcher who has extensively championed the human rights and needs of key populations and people living with HIV. In addition, Dr. Sprague is a long time organizational ally. She has served as the regional coordinator for GNP+NA, the North American Affiliate of GNP+, and as a GNP+ Board Member, and has provided technical support to PLHIV networks worldwide on the People Living with HIV Stigma Index research and analysis for nearly a decade.
As a person living with HIV, Dr. Sprague has been firmly rooted in the struggle for HIV, human rights and social justice since her own diagnosis in 1991. Her expertise is in enabling legal environments and human rights approaches to health. Her commitment is to self-empowerment movements, resilience, and solidarity among people living with HIV and key populations across race, gender, identity, experience, and geography. Dr. Sprague comes to GNP+ from the HIV Justice Network, which monitors, documents, and analyses HIV criminalisation laws and their effects, where she served as the Global Research Fellow on HIV, Gender and Justice. From 2014-2016, Dr. Sprague served on the NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, where she co-lead efforts to address intellectual property barriers to treatment access, protections of sexual and reproductive health and rights for key populations living with HIV, and financing for the community-led HIV response. Dr. Sprague holds a PhD in political science and has been an Honors College Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Faculty Member at Wayne State University and Eastern Michigan University in the United States, teaching political, democratic, and feminist theory. Her social science research focuses on processes for representation of marginalized groups in global institutions and measuring and responding to HIV-related stigma, discrimination, and human rights abuses.
“I am deeply honoured to serve our global movement of people living with HIV as the newest Executive Director. GNP+ has played a critical role in my own development and my recognition of the solidarity and the courage expressed worldwide by people living with HIV, our networks of key population groups, and those who love and support us. We have hard work ahead of us. While many people with HIV are now enjoying strong, healthy, full lives; urgency and collaboration are needed to ensure dignity, decency, and survival for the many more people living with HIV and key populations still struggling” said Dr. Sprague.
Dr. Sprague will succeed GNP+’s current interim ED, Rico Gustav, and step into the leadership role in the beginning of May. During his tenure, Mr. Gustav expertly and tirelessly navigated GNP+ through a challenging transformational period. Through his efforts the organization is now positioned to engage more energetically in advocacy and policy efforts that address the global threats that people living with HIV and key populations are facing in this current era of financial and geopolitical uncertainty in the AIDS movement.
The Global Director of the International Community of Women (ICW), Rebecca Matheson, applauded the appointment, “Dr. Sprague is a seasoned advocate and champion for women living with HIV in all of our diversities. ICW looks forward to continuing our close relationship with GNP+ under her leadership as both our organizations continue to work tirelessly for access to good health and the full range of human rights and to ensure the GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS) principle is realized through effective representation of all people living with HIV in different levels of decision making and in contributions to HIV and health policy and programs worldwide.”
Chair of the Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition (PAPWC) and Director of Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK), Dorothy Onyango, said, “While we have made much progress, the challenges currently facing people living with HIV are tremendous. We look forward to working together with Dr. Sprague as she brings her experience and commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights, the needs of young people, and financing for our networks into her new role with GNP+”
Dr. Sprague noted that the challenging political and financial environments faced by the AIDS movement demonstrate the continued need for empowered, resilient, and active networks of people living with HIV and other key populations. “HIV has always brought out the best forms of commitment and passion among so many people. We will draw on and keep strengthening that legacy, being responsible, transparent, and accountable in our work, and moving toward more justice, more health, more voice, and greater realisation of our human rights”.
With Dr. Sprague at the helm, GNP+ has an incredibly talented, strategic, collaborative and committed leader that can strengthen our partnerships and programs to meet the ongoing challenges of our time securing the health, safety and wellbeing of people living with HIV around the world. With a smooth transition already in process, we fully expect that Dr. Sprague will hit the ground running. Dr. Sprague will begin her term in early May and relocate to Amsterdam where the GNP+ Secretariat is based. We thank you for your ongoing support and hope you will join us in warmly welcoming her to the team.
Javier Hourcade Bellocq
Board Chair, GNP+