Chamber Chat with Derrick M. Brown, Chief Development Officer with Nonprofit Chamber Member, AIDS Foundation Houston (AFH)
Chamber Chat – Back to Business Blog
The Chamber is committed to telling the stories of our members. Chamber Chat is a regular series profiling our members. We love sharing great stories and insight from our members!
In this Chamber Chat, learn more from one of our Chamber members, Derrick M. Brown, who is the Chief Development Officer with AIDS Foundation Houston. A huge thank you to Derrick for his support of the Chamber. We are incredibly proud to call AFH one of our Chamber members.
Derrick shares more about his passion for the work at AFH and the important work to end the HIV epidemic in Houston. Derrick is also in a rare category…he’s a native Houstonian! But he’s spent time in other places and found his way back to HTown!
What is your 30-second “elevator speech” about what AIDS Foundation Houston does?
AFH is the leading HIV/AIDS services organization in the Houston area. As HIV prevention and treatment pharmacology is evolving, we are evolving to continue to meet the needs of our clients and provide innovative ways to serve our communities. We have a vision of communities where HIV is rare and stigma-free, and everyone had equitable access to care. Our mission is to End the HIV Epidemic in Houston!
AIDS Foundation Houston has a long-time history with the LGBTQ community. Can you share more about the commitment to the community?
We were the first AIDS service organization in Texas, founded in 1988. We have spent the past 38 years in service to the community to provide holistic services to those living with HIV and/or whose lives have been impacted by the virus. We will continue to be here, providing cutting-edge, innovative and free services until we End the HIV Epidemic in Houston.
Why is the work of AIDS Foundation Houston more important than ever?
The parallels between HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s and COVID-19 in 2020 could not be clearer. It is sad that we have not learned lessons from the past and continue to make those same mistakes now. We know that those individuals that are more susceptible to COVID-19 are the very same black and brown communities that are at highest risk for HIV.
We have found ways to be innovative and creative in the ways that we continue to provide our prevention and testing services to clients through the pandemic while maintaining our housing and food pantry services to those that are in need. Now, more than ever it is vital that we have the support to continue our work through surviving COVID.
In this “new norm” due to COVID, how is AIDS Foundation Houston adapting? How has this impacted your fundraising events?
As mentioned above, we are still seeing clients and providing all of our services to our clients, even during COVID. We have had to restructure and configure our office spaces, clinic, and how we operate and interact with our clients at our housing communities. We are in full PPE when needed to ensure the safety of our staff and our clients during this time.
Our fundraising events have been deeply impacted due to COVID because the restaurants that we partner with are closed and people were unable to eat out to support our Dining Out For Life event in the late Spring. So, we turned that event into a call to action for our donors to patronize our restaurant partners through pick-up/delivery for those restaurants that were open during that time.
In addition, our annual World AIDS Day Houston Luncheon has been reconfigured to be a Virtual Experience this year, when greatly reduces the amount of funds raised in underwriters, table and tickets sales, and day of event giving as well.
What drew you to the work at AIDS Foundation Houston?
I have spent almost 2 decades dedicated to non-profit work, most of which has been in service to the LGBTQ community. In past roles, I have been and advocate and connector of resources for businesses and non-profits alike. This role at AFH has allowed me to serve my community in a way that is meaningful and impactful on those that are in greatest need of our work.
What has been key to your success for AIDS Foundation Houston?
I am a true believer in relationships and putting the energy and time into fostering and nurturing those relationships across community stakeholders, donors, funders and corporate partners. This has been a key in all the work that I have done over the years and will remain a focus moving forward.
You’ve been involved with other LGBTQ Chambers in the past. Can you share more about that experience?
I have been so fortunate to have fallen into the world of the LGBTQ chambers when I first lived in Houston. Then when I moved to Dallas, I became even more involved by serving on the Board for the North Texas LGBT Chamber and as Chairman for many years. In addition, I was able to found the LEAP non-profit under the chamber’s umbrella and also served as Board chair for several years as well.
Then when I moved to NYC, I worked with the NGLCC and became the first ED in NY and launched the NGLCCNY! I also served on the Board for the Tyler Clementi Foundation based in NYC and currently sit on the HRC Federal Club Sub-Committee here in Houston. In addition, I opened up my own consulting agency to better connect corporations and non-profits as well as my work on the legislative and advocacy front for business equality with Freedom for All Americans!
Why do you think the work of LGBTQ chambers is important across the country?
The ability for chambers to connect people and businesses of shapes and sizes across communities, cities, states and the country is something that has helped equality efforts for the LGBTQ community as a whole. We all know that public/private industry is always leading the charge when it comes to inclusion and having a seat at the table. The work of LGBT chambers has fostered that notion and continues to be a guiding force in that work.
What’s ahead in the next couple of years for AIDS Foundation Houston?
There are some really exciting next steps of our organization as we continue to evolve and innovate how we deliver services to more and more of our community.
We have a new website in the works, a clinic for our Prevention, PrEP and Testing work, and Avita has opened a pharmacy in our Westpark office to better serve those coming in and needed medications. In the next few years, we continue to work to meet our clients where they are at in the community and expand our outreach of providing services that will End the HIV Epidemic in Houston.
What’s the best advice you ever received in your career?
That my name was my brand, and my word was my bound. Everything I do, no matter what organization I am working for, I live by that motto.
Now for some fun…rapid fire! What's your favorite thing to do in HTX when you're not working?
EAT – I love great food and Houston has a plethora of amazing restaurants!
Native Houstonian or got here as fast as you could and from where?
I was born and raised in Houston, graduated from U of H, and then moved to Dallas for 13 years, where I received my Masters. Then on to NYC for 5 years – lived at 45th and 9th in the heart of the city was amazing, I miss it every day! We were in Philadelphia for 2 years and then returned back home to Houston in late 2017.
Barbeque or Mexican, and where do you go for it?
Who can choose? BBQ – Pappas and Mexican – Glorias/Chuys/Escalante
First app checked in the morning?
My text messages followed by work and personal emails
Amazon, Starbucks, Instacart/Favor, Grub Hub/Door Dash to Facebook and Instagram – after text and mail of course
Person you FaceTime most often?
LOL, in this new world of ModOps and working from home, it’s been my fellow chiefs almost daily, followed by our Directors and Managers and then my team. I do get some time to talk to my family as well!
Most listened-to track?
My iTunes collection is all over the map. From Tejano/Country/Classical to R&B/Pop/Top 40 and everything in between!
What is the best way(s) people can support AIDS Foundation Houston and where can they find more information?
You can support the organization by helping to promote the work that we do to those in your community and networks, provide individual financial contributions to support the work that we do, or become a corporate agency partner and underwrite the funding of our programs and services as we continue to fight to End the HIV Epidemic in Houston. AFHouston.org
Make plans to join us each year for our annual World AIDS Day Houston event and by donating to our mission and fund the work that we are doing to fight to End the HIV Epidemic in Houston. AFHouston.org
Anything else you want to share about AIDS Foundation Houston?
I am blessed and very proud to be a part of such an amazing organization comprised of some of the most dedicated and passionate people around the work that we do to help the community and also in providing safe spaces for people to access the care/services that they need to thrive!
Connect with Derrick on social media:
Learn more about AIDS Foundation Houston: AFHouston.org – AIDSHelp.org – EndingHIVHouston.org