The Ontario AIDS Network (OAN) board announced February 22 that Paul Lapierre is no longer the Executive Director of the OAN as “it is now time to move in a new direction”.
The announcement followed a period of intense criticism from OAN member organizations, social media and the poz community in particular. Some of that criticism, which PositiveLite.com reported on here, involved omission of U=U messaging from the OAN’s World AIDS Day campaign in favour of more generic messaging.
It’s clear though the OAN wishes to move on.
In any event, we asked OAN co-chairs Holly Gauvin and Precious Maseko to comment on Lapierre’s sudden departure. They provided a written statement exclusive to PositiveLite.com which said this…..
“We have been asked why the change in leadership and what are the factors that drove it. While, the OAN will not be providing a comment on this matter, we do wish to say that over the next several weeks the Board through its Co-chairs Precious Maseko & Holly Gauvin will be working to ensure the continued stability of the organization. Events like PLDI, GMSH Alliance Meetings and the upcoming GMSH Mental Health Summit and more will continue without interruption. The Board is proud of the staff and their continued focus and dedication to the work of the OAN. The Board acknowledges and thanks them for their tireless efforts through this time of transition. We would also like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude for the PLDI facilitators who, during this transition, will be working through this weekend to deliver PLDI Training to PHA’s from across the province.”
"We will be working on quality improvement, greater transparency and greater engagement of the membership and PHAs."
PositiveLite.com asked the co-chairs to elaborate on the new directions referred to in their email to members. They said this: “It’s a common practice in many of our organizations to continuously revisit our work to ensure it is meeting the needs of the people we are mandated to serve. We will be working on quality improvement, greater transparency and greater engagement of the membership and PHAs. To do this the Board will be reviewing policies and our current strategic plan and reaching out to the OAN’s membership for advice on best practices. We hope to operationalize many of the recommendations through our annual program plan this year.”
About the controversy surrounding the World AIDs Day campaign they said this. “We do believe that there were a number of successes with the campaign but we acknowledge the frustrations and disappointments that people felt with it as well”. They went on, “If we can point to one success it is the vast number of Ontarians who paid attention to the campaign. Our hope is to generate that same level of interest as we move forward with other campaigns in the future.”
Member organizations PositiveLite.com talked to had complained that there was not sufficient consultation around the campaign content and messaging. It looks like the OAN acknowledges the problem. Said the co-chairs “the Board will be reviewing the best practices of the OAN membership in its development of campaigns and promotional materials in an effort to develop a process that is effective and representative of member organizations.”
They went on “As you can imagine this is not an easy time for the OAN nor for our sector. It is critical now more than ever that we work collaboratively towards common goals. We need to change the story from what was not done to what can be done and we hope that you will choose to be a part of it.”
While questions remain unanswered, a forward looking approach is, we think, what is needed here. The OAN has acknowledged that mistakes were made. They have taken steps to chart new directions under new management. PositiveLite.com supports them as they move on.