August 25, 2005
District of Columbia Department of Health Director Gregg Pane on Wednesday announced that Marsha Martin, executive director of the national AIDS advocacy group AIDS Action, will serve as the new director of the city's HIV/AIDS Administration, the Washington Post reports (Montgomery, Washington Post, 8/25). Pane earlier this month fired former HIV/AIDS Administration Director Lydia Watts amid questions about how the agency handled federal funds. The administration in June was criticized in an audit by the district's inspector general for inadequately overseeing organizations that deliver services to HIV-positive residents. In addition, a report released earlier this month by the DC Appleseed Center found that the city's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been inadequate and poorly coordinated. The report said, among other things, that city officials were not systematically collecting and analyzing data about the epidemic and not properly coordinating and supervising the organizations that provide services for people living with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/23). Martin, who has served since 2002 as executive director of AIDS Action, will begin work as director of the city agency on Sept. 7. Before becoming director of AIDS Action, Martin, a district resident, served for three years as special assistant on HIV/AIDS policy to former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala.
"Ms. Martin brings with her a wealth of knowledge and considerable expertise in the field of HIV/AIDS," district Mayor Anthony Williams (D) said during his weekly news conference. He added, "She has the skills that are needed to move the agency forward." Pane said Martin's professional and academic credentials were important factors in her selection and have made her "a great leader" (Washington Post, 8/25). Craig Thompson, chair of the AIDS Action board of directors, said, "In her tenure with AIDS Action, Marsha has built a strong and capable team to which members of Congress, federal agency officials and the White House look for reliable information and sound analyses of HIV-related issues." Martin said, "I look forward to ... drawing on the expertise of AIDS Action and its national and community partners as well as people living with HIV as the district builds a model HIV program for the nation" (AIDS Action release, 8/24).
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