Gerald Garth has led health equity work for over ten years, previously serving as Chief Operations Officer of AMAAD and Manager of Prevention and Care with the Black AIDS Institute (BAI). He most recently served as the first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Los Angeles LGBT Center. He leads work with the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative (AAIMM) and serves as co-chair of the Black Caucus of the Los Angeles Commission on HIV. Other roles Garth has held are faculty of the CRIBB Fellowship through NAESM and founder of BLAC (Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change). Garth is also the President of LA Pride, the first Black man to hold the position. Garth is also a licensed and ordained elder, award-winning journalist and editor, and nationally recognized activist and advocate. Garth completed his Master’s in Business Administration from California Intercontinental University in 2022.
Cynthia Ruffin, MA has been at the forefront of social justice for more than 25-years and is thrilled to be a part of the growing team at The AMAAD Institute. With training in front-line counseling at Vanier College in Montreal (her hometown), theatre at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and Nonprofit Management at Antioch University in Los Angeles, she has found the perfect blend of creativity, activism, and professionalism. Her theatre activism began with her work serving LGBTQ+ youth who had been kicked out of their homes for being gay and had resorted to survival sex. She has gone on to work with survivors of domestic violence, ex-addicts, felons and ex-felons, and people struggling with homelessness. Cynthia has helped create youth programming, written full-length plays, and produced events and shows at the Social Circus Company Wise New Mexico and Fringe Benefits Theatre in Los Angeles.
Most recently, she served as the director of COLORS LGBTQ Youth Counseling Services. She grew the agency’s capacity doubling the number of clients served and the number of clinicians providing those services.
Cynthia is the founder and director of the production company Revolutionary Angel Productions, a ground-breaking mission-based and value-driven production company investing in communities by producing socially relevant content for businesses, nonprofits, and educational institutions. She is published in the anthology Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry, and she continues to write, direct and perform.
Cato has been active in the field of organizational development for over 20 years. Before pursuing an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he began his career as a high school English teacher and then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern Africa, Namibia. Cato later worked for The Food and Agricultural Organization of The United Nations developing, improving, and reinforcing strategies, structures, and processes of agricultural programming throughout sub-Saharan Africa. It is during this time he developed a deeper appreciation for inclusive education and began to immerse himself in the practice of engaging constructivist movement organizations. Upon his return to the U.S., Cato held a variety of programmatic roles that aimed to build human and material capacity to change and achieve greater effectiveness. All of these experiences have led to his conviction about the capacity of organizations and their responsibility to construct power identities and effective strategies, to extend opportunities for the communities they serve to defend or advance their positions. “Sustaining, evolving, and expanding a culture requires a good storyteller. Changing a culture requires a persuasive editor.” AMAAD’s value of people with a focus on authenticity over perfection is its competitive advantage.”
DALE HUGHES STARTED HIS EMPLOYMENT WITH THE AMAAD INSTITUTE IN OCTOBER OF 2017 AS THE OFFICE ASSISTANT, RUNNING THE OFFICE AND DOING DATA ENTRY AFTER HIS FIRST YEAR OF EMPLOYMENT, HE THEN TRANSITIONED TO BE
OFFICE MANAGER FOR THE AMAAD INSTITUTE, WHERE HE HAS CONTINUED TO BLOSSOM AND STRENGTHEN HIS ABILITIES. DALE HAS CONTINUED TO GROW IN HIS EMPLOYMENT AFTER 4 YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT WITH AMAAD. HE WAS PROMOTED TO MANAGER OF FISCAL ADMINISTRATION, WHERE HE OVERSEES THE DAY-TO-DAY MANAGEMENT OF ALL OF AMAAD’S BILLING, INVOICING, CREDIT CARD RECONCILIATIONS, TIMEKEEPING, AND HANDLING PAYROLL DUTIES. AS AN EXPERIENCED SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND CERTIFIED HIV COUNSELOR, DALE HAS A PASSION FOR HELPING OTHERS TO OVERCOME ADDICTION AND DISEASE. DALE PRIDE HIMSELF WITH HIS RECOVERY AND WANTS TO BE A MENTOR TO OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A CHANGE IN THEIR LIVES. DALE BRINGS YEARS OF LIVED AND RECOVERY SUPPORT EXPERIENCE. AS A SENIOR EXECUTIVE STAFF MEMBER, DALE LEADS, HELPS, AND GUIDES WITH EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE.
DALE HUGHES HAS SUPPORTED ALL OF AMAAD’S PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS OF HIS EMPLOYMENT.
IN HIS SPARE TIME, DALE ENJOYS SPORTS AND WATCHING MOVIES.
Theodore “Ted” Booker serves as the Business Development & Grants Manager at AMAAD Institute. Ted is a consummate professional that believes in superb customer service, which translates to client-centered and culturally relevant services that allow individuals to be seen and heard. He has more than 30 years of administrative, program development/management, housing, career coaching/job development, event planning, and strategic planning experience in the social services and construction industries. In social services, Ted has worked as Program Director, Job Developer, Program Manager, and Strategic Planner in housing, employment training, behavioral health, re-entry, and substance abuse recovery programming. He has worked as Placement Officer on the Expo Light Rail Project, a Certified Payroll Analyst, and Contract Administrator in the construction industry. Thirty of those years have been delivering services in Service Planning Area 6 (SPA-6). Mr. Booker served on the original SPA Los Angeles County Service Planning Area Council, participating in community organizing and consensus-building activities. Mr. Booker has worked with several target populations, e.g., adult males, justice-involved youth and adults, families, and older adults 55 and older. Mr. Booker has completed a BA degree in Sociology from Cal-State Los Angeles and an Associate of Arts in Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences from Los Angeles City College.
Anthony began working in the non-profit sector at 18 years in the city of Chicago as a health educator where we would educate the community about rising HIV/STI rates. In 2015, Anthony moved to Los Angeles d to take on a bigger role in impacting underserved communities on a more national scale. Once in Los Angeles, Anthony returned to community college to study Business Administration.
In 2018, Anthony began his journey with AMAAD where he led one of its flagship programs “F3.” In 2020, Anthony was promoted to Human Resources & Employment Training Coordinator before becoming the HR Manager & Employment Training Coordinator in 2022. In 2023, Anthony graduated at the top of his from the University of Pepperdine, earning a BA in Management.
In his role as HR Manager, Anthony is responsible for facilitating all key HR functions, training & development, as well as overseeing workforce development for staff and program participants. Anthony plans, coordinates, and directs the administrative functions of AMAAD through recruitment, onboarding and retention, strategic planning with executive leadership, additional administrative responsibilities, reporting, IT management, and aligning organizational policies.
As Manager of Housing Services, Kenneth oversees The House of Resiliency and the Mike Gipson House, two of AMAAD's transitional and permanent housing facilities. With a strong background in property management coupled with a passion for advocating for the underserved in the community, Kenneth brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our housing program. From participating in the Los Angeles Homeless count to navigating our program participants to safe, permanent housing, Kenneth is dedicated to helping end homelessness in our community.
In his role, Kenneth also leads the linkage and navigation of the direct services efforts of AMAAD.
A native of Watts, Ronald Jackson has worked in the community as an artist and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community for more than 30 years and in the field of HIV/AIDS and office administration for more than 25 years. As an HIV tester and counselor with “In The Meantime Men Inc.,” Ronald has tested more than 4000 individuals, providing a direct route into care as needed. He started in this field years ago when people were afraid to touch or deal with anyone with HIV or AIDS. Ronald has volunteered and worked with multiple agencies across Los Angeles County as well as numerous HIV/AIDS campaigns. After sending his youngest daughter off to college he set his sights back on education to pursue a degree in Social Work, he enrolled in Santa Monica College, transferred to CSUDH, completed his studies in social work, and graduated class of 2021 with a BA in Human Services. Ronald is the manager of the Reclaiming Innocence Project and Navigation Support Services. He brings to the table his knowledge of the community in which we serve and his ability to connect on a personal level with the participants and partners he serves in the greater Los Angeles area.
Mark A. Marbury is originally from Childersburg, Al, and has predominately worked in the accounting field his entire career. Being from a rural part of Alabama, where people don’t speak their truth out loud, has helped him realize he can speak for those who can’t. That support has been through protesting, engaging, financial, or healthy conversations. He is most passionate about making a difference in his community. He likes to treat the company he works for as if he started it, this helps to appreciate that moving the company forward moves me forward. He received an honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps with distinguished commendation medals and badges. He graduated with an Associate degree in Accounting from Kelsey-Jenny community college and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Phoenix.
Mark currently serves as the Executive and Budget assistant at the Executive and Budget Assistant to the CEO. He assists the CEO with administrative, financial, and business processes, track team(s) operating budgets, validate expenditures to ensure they align with funded program budgets, and budget projections and make annual budget recommendations. He would like to help in the continued success and expansion of the services needed by underserved communities of color by ensuring our fiscal and financial resources are managed and distributed adequately.
Darnell Green (he/him) a native of Cleveland, Ohio who started his Public Health and Social Justice career in 2001 by winning a National NFL Award for community service. Mr. Green used the theater and music skills he learned at The University of Toledo to create “Da Real Tea” as part of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland’s Brother 2 Brother Program. “Da Real Tea” was created to educate Black and Latinx people who shared the highest impact of new HIV/AIDS cases.
Darnell Green worked with the vogue community through the Council of Houses Program at The Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia. He provided knowledge in the City of Philadelphia via the Hot Tracks hotline, an anonymous service designed to offer safer sex strategies as well as linkage and referral options for HIV/STI testing and counseling.
Darnell continued his purpose by joining The Los Angeles LGBT Center in 2010. He contributed to their Many Men, Many Voices retreats, and Center South expansion, as well as contributed as Program Manager.
In 2018 Mr. Green joined the AMAAD Institute as the Youth Health and Wellness Manager. In his time at The AMAAD Institute, Darnell appreciates being able to transform the lives of youth through leadership development.
Lanelle P. Laws, M.S., LMFT
Lanelle has a passion for empowering, encouraging, and elevating women & men of color. She strives to “change the narrative” on how mental health is implemented and viewed within underserved communities. She has modernized evidence-based practices to fit current needs. Lanelle is trained in trauma-informed care and harm reduction.
Lanelle currently serves as Behavioral Health Therapist on Project imPACT.
She prides herself on meeting people where they are to help individuals to be the best whole person they can be.
Christian Bullock, a native of Washington, DC has joined the AMAAD Institute as the Peer Navigator. Christian comes to the team with almost 10 years of a combination of communications, executive support, and property management experience. He began his career after attending Pennsylvania State University and returned back to DC to give back to his community by working within the DC Department of Employment Service's Summer Youth Employment Program. Shortly thereafter, he landed a position in property management where he was elevated to Assistant Property Manager. After years in property management, he has been presented with an opportunity to run a program helping transitional youth and young adults with work readiness, job loss, and crisis management. Christian is thrilled to join a company where he is able to utilize his expertise to help make a difference in the lives of people experiencing addiction, disease, and homelessness.
Grand Rising from South Los Angeles, my name is Clarence R. Wade, and welcome to Unapologetically Black, Black Excellence, Black Experience. I am He, Him, King, and an Ally supporting my brothers and sisters who are LGBTQ+IA. Since 2020, Clarence has had the privilege to work as a Resident Advisor at The AMAAD Institute. Being on the frontline seeing the need for a Continuum of Care that is holistic for the community in the Service Planning Area of South Los Angeles. As a Peer base Staff member at the AMAAD Institute, he can speak from experience as a person that was a Transitional Age Youth who had been Homeless while lacking self-awareness, the ability to advocate for himself, and having barriers unresolved. Fortunately, in this work I have been afforded an opportunity to gain experience in best practices and achieve certificates for Client Centeredness, Trauma Informed Care, Harm Reduction, and Motivational Interviewing, to meet the community with skills to facilitate and foster Individualized Supportive Services for Black men who are in recovery, men and women who are justice-involved. Again, I am empowered to turn barriers into bridges as an assertive advocate for all who have been marginalized and look like me.
Lea Collins, APCC
My passion is mental health and nutrition which has developed over the years through lived experience. As I begin to grow in my recovery after many years of addiction and bouts of depression and anxiety, my interest sparked in how diet impacts the way we think and feel. The seed was planted and my hunger to make myself mentally well through nutrition changed my life. I do this work because I believe mental wellness is key to achieving high-level daily functioning and an overall better quality of life. I believe everyone can benefit from eating healthier and applying self-care for mental wellness.
I started working in the black and brown communities as a Crisis/Outreach Counselor serving the underserved communities with information and an empathetic listening ear, I was able to connect individuals and families to resources and support services that they needed. Being a Behavioral Health Therapist at AMAAD has given me the opportunity to continue to do the work that I love. In my leisure time, I love to spend time with my family. I can always count on my family to make me laugh, whether we are cooking, watching a show or movie, or just talking in the family room, it’s a good time.
Dechelle Richardson is a Los Angeles native, and her pronouns are she/her/boss/Jefe. She is a Community Engagement and Training Coordinator for the HIV.E team at the AMAAD institute. The two cohorts she oversees are the South LA and Women of Color cohorts. Dechelle, also known as Chelley, values creating and sustaining a relationship with the community with a focus on education and enrichment. She has spent most of her whole life in the grassroots sector connecting with people door-by-door or 1 on 1 as a Jehovah’s Witness. Although she is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, she learned how to relate to anyone, on any level and at any time. She spent over 10 years working as an in-home caregiver, harnessing compassion for people while experiencing emotional fatigue. Chelly’s love for people motivates her to be relentless in attempting to raise capital for the community.
Additionally, Dechelle’s s background as a stand-up comedian adds to her ability to provide comic relief in tense situations while simultaneously understanding the impact. What she plans to bring to the AMAAD Institute is a determination to normalize the black community's infusion with love, support, and personalized resources. Dechelle is excited to create strong bonds with her co-workers and with the community.
Dondei Dean (she/her), a native of Carson, California, is excited to serve as AMAAD’s Intern Coordinator. Her education and passion for social change began during her time at Dartmouth College, where she led campus efforts for racial justice.
Her experience grew during her tenure as Executive Director and Lead Organizer of a community organizing nonprofit in Western Massachusetts, where she worked extensively with Black and Latino communities. As a bilingual organizer, she built bridges between English- and Spanish-speaking leaders.
Now back in Los Angeles, Dondei is fully committed to enriching LGBTQIA+ communities of color. A deep listener with a passion for story and relationships, she is jumping feet-first into growing the leadership skills and power of AMAAD’s inaugural cohort of interns! She will be working with them to develop job materials, interview skills, and much more. Her work will also grow AMAAD’s long-term capacity as a training institution.
On an average day, you will find her developing career skills training, coaching a colleague, or corresponding with a partner institution such as the LA Department of Mental Health. Outside of work, you can find her riding her bike, gardening, and practicing other anti-exclusive ways of living.
André Deshon Moton
Andre’ Moton was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. He will start his journey at the AMAAD Institute as the COVID-19 Outreach Access Specialist. Andre has understood the impact of the pandemic and is excited to inform the community about ways to keep them safe. He has grown from once participating in AMAADS programming to now helping guide the community to access care. His drive comes from experiencing hardships but channels that energy and helps lives for the better. His mission is to bring awareness to young adults that are experiencing homelessness and drug addiction. He is committed to learning and finding new ways to serve his community.
Tyrone Thompson serves as the Youth Diversion Manager at the AMAAD Institute, focusing on youth and young adults who are system-involved and experiencing homelessness or housing instability. As a native of Los Angeles, CA, with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, Tyrone has always made it his personal goal to advocate, support, and serve his community. In awe of how AMAAD has taken the lead in supporting the LGBTQIA+ community of color, Tyrone was pleased to join the AMAAD team. In his role as the Policy Coordinator, Tyrone took a personal stand in supporting AMAAD's Tobacco Control and Prevention efforts through data collection, community education, and coalition building; through that, Tyrone played a significant role in assisting Hawthorne City Council in passing Ordinance 2227 (Secondhand Smoke and Smoking Prohibition). Tyrone then transitions into his new role as Community Education and Engagement Team Lead, assisting community members in accessing services, including COVID-19 prevention services. Tyrone vaccinated over three hundred community members and provided support services to over 3,000 community members. Tyrone volunteers his free time and partners with community members to feed and clothe individuals experiencing homelessness on Skid Row. Tyrone is dedicated to encouraging and empowering the community to thrive.
Jennifer Campos (She/Her) is a Carson, California native. She is thrilled to be working as a Community Health Intern for AMAAD. She is completing her GED after graduating from Antioch University's BRIDGE program. Her accomplishments include assisting others with Social Security Income, General Relief paperwork, SNAP/EBT, and technical service access support. She has been a coordinator of medical and transportation services. She has worked with AMAAD Institute for 6 months as a Housing Navigator. I serve men, women, Latinos, black people, and LGBTQ+ people. I provide services for problem-solving to others who need resources for housing, work, school, and bus passes, as an advocate. She assists others with phone calls and appointments, as well as connecting them to resources. She is an active listener that listens to stories with empathy to pinpoint resources. She has been a Wellness Outreach Worker with Project Return and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health for five years. She has been running my support groups on Heypeers and Zoom, and I have reached out to so many people across states and cities thanks to her. My Road to Recovery and Mindful Wellness and Recovery groups have grown tremendously over the course of the pandemic.
Diamond Paulk is originally from Jacksonville, FL. With a background in creative arts, she refers to herself as an Activist (Activist within the arts). Growing up in Florida, where it was dangerous to live in your truth, she found it necessary to create spaces where individuals can ultimately be themselves consistently. She has worked alongside the community for five years within different areas and looks forward to continuing the work. Diamond has also been newly deemed the pioneer of culture by Atlanta pride and Trans life awards. She is passionate about seeing her community win and is committed to providing resources and education to elevate our community. However, she feels her most significant accomplishment would be deciding to walk in her truth, despite the taboo surrounding the Transgender community. She believes she is called to be an example for the current generations and generations to come. Therefore, Diamond joins the AMAAD Squad as the new Community Engagement & Training Coordinator working with the HIV.E team. In this position, she plans to provide resources and education to our Transgender Community, so they feel empowered to be more than the world would see them as. Making sure we always have a seat at the table.
Ms. Tracie Unique Alexander came to AMAAD as our Housing Navigator; she packs a punch and is ready to serve the underserved community in LA. Through her hardships, she can navigate and advocate for anyone. With her experience in substance abuse, health education, and HIV awareness, she is relatable and is set on being a force in ending homelessness within the LGBTQIA+ community. Through her lived experiences and work as a volunteer for the Unique Women’s Coalition, she has a strong passion for Trans housing and sensitivity needs. She is so passionate that she will kick down doors to see it happen. XOXO
Michael Rabb is a classically trained chef Who calls Los Angeles his home. And in 1992 Michael started at the Minority Aids Project as a Consultant Facilitator. After a long hiatus, he decided to return to the field of “helping people." Now he’s at The Amaad Institute as a Resident Advisor of the House of Resiliency. “I’m extremely proud to be a part of such a diverse group that truly loves helping in our community.
My name is Shay Harwell, an east coast native, currently living in Los Angeles California. I am the newest member to join The AMAAD Institute as their Behavioral Health Case Manager. I have a professional background in Hospital Administration, Paralegal, and Corporate Organization.
I hold degrees in Associate Arts of Social & Behavioral Sciences (2015), and a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (2020). Currently, I am attending Pepperdine University to facilitate my master's in Licensed Professional Clinical Counseling/Marriage Family Therapy – expected graduation (in 2025). My passion has always been of a helping nature. I want to uplift, inspire, and elevate people of color to their fullest potential, with education, knowledge of self and others, including the world around them, but also the resilience to bounce back from any given situation. “I am proud to be black, but black is not all I am.” I am an unapologetic strong black woman, whose growth has yet to come.
Look beyond the forest, and you will see the trees. Through my journey with The AMAAD Institute, I want to grow, learn, and excel with the company to its fullest potential and maintain the exceptional black excellence we all strive towards.
Sandra Carrillo has worked in the Administration profession for over 6 years. She is the Office Manager of The AMAAD Institute, with an emphasis on LGBTQ individuals of color, AMAAD offers assistance opportunities, outreach to the community, and facilities oriented towards narrowly focused, strength-centered administration and support. There will always be the need to possess the initiative to prioritize requests and find ways to streamline the workflow.
As part of the Administration profession, Sandra has worked hard to organize and coordinate administration duties and office procedures. Also, maintain a pleasant work environment, ensuring high levels of organizational effectiveness, communication, and safety. Being an upbeat team player with an expansive toolkit of interpersonal skills and professionalism plays out well in her profession. She is an individual who takes pride in her work and values her efforts to help customers and provide quality services.
I love helping professionals and believe in the therapeutic process. Moreover, I live by the Shakespearean quote, “To Thy Own Self Be True!” The ability to live, love, and laugh despite what you are going through can be very challenging. It is my desire to help the people I encounter to create whole, healthy lifestyles and relationships. The goal of therapy is not to provide good customer service, but rather to engage in an everlasting experience that is of the utmost value and in the best interest of the client.
I am a native of Los Angeles who relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue my educational goals at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Morehouse College, a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Clark Atlanta University as well as a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management from Fort Valley State University. I returned to California in the past few years to acquire my license as a Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). In addition, I hold the credentials of National Certified Counselor (NCC) and National Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).