Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

FEATURE: Howard Brown—More questions than answers
by Yasmin Nair
2010-05-01

This article shared 3099 times since Sat May 1, 2010
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


It has now been almost a month since Windy City Times first broke the news that Howard Brown Health Center ( HBHC ) had placed its CEO and CFO, Michael Cook and Mark Joslyn, respectively, on paid administrative leave. Since then, HBHC has revealed no details about the reasons for its actions, only issuing a series of increasingly cryptic press releases promising further details.

Subsequently, Cook stepped down and Joslyn was let go. After weeks of silence and much speculation in the community, the agency made two critical announcements in a press release dated April 26 in which it revealed the nature of the issues surrounding the departure of the two men and the name of its new CEO. In the press release, HBHC announced that it is "cooperating with the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) on an investigation into allegations of mishandling funds involving the Multi-Center AIDS Cohort Study ( MACS ) , one of the center's research grants." It added that, " [ t ] o protect the integrity of the investigation the Board and its counsel must limit the amount of information released to the public. Once the organization releases its findings to the NIH it hopes to be able to share additional information with the public."

The press release went on to say that HBHC's board of directors is working with the NIH to make "management changes, [ implement ] internal controls and an independent audit of all federal grants." It stated that there was "no reason to believe that any funds were misappropriated for personal gain or used for purposes other than the center's mission and services. Findings show that the funds were used to support services and programs at Howard Brown."

This release confirmed news reported by Windy City Times two weeks ago that Howard Brown "transferred its lead agency status of the MACS to long-time research partner, Northwestern University." This is supposed to ensure that the MACS study continues without interruption. According to HBHC, "This transfer will not have a significant financial impact on the organization. In its capacity as a subcontractor, Howard Brown will continue to receive nearly the same amount of money for the work it performs under the grant."

Howard Brown has also named Jamal Edwards as the organization's new CEO and president, effective June 1. According to the official bio, Edwards was, prior to joining HBHC, a partner in the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, "where he represented foreign and domestic corporations in litigation, intellectual property, and corporate transactional matters" and the firm's first openly gay partner in Chicago. The press release indicates that Edwards is no stranger to Howard Brown, having served as the agency's primary outside counsel while at Kirkland & Ellis. It also states that he "lead numerous Kirkland teams representing Howard Brown in countless matters ranging from mergers and acquisitions to litigation to real estate." The release also states that Edwards was a co-chair of HBHC's 2009 gala.

Meanwhile, community leaders are beginning to voice their frustration and concerns about what many describe as a lack of transparency on the part of an important organization. The controversy has raised the specter of old scandals at HBHC, and it is causing some to seriously worry about the impact this issue will have on the most vulnerable population: the clients who need and require the health care services provided by the Center.

Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois, summed up Howard Brown's silence, which has spread through all levels of the organization, telling Windy City Times that " [ t ] he board itself has battened down the hatches and is engaging in a code of silence; there is no transparency." Referring to a previous scandal at HBHC, he said he was bewildered as to how bad the current issue could be that the board felt compelled to be so silent: "I can't imagine the situation being worse than when the development officer was selling crystal meth. And even then they were more transparent, and cleaned up under the great leadership of Michael Cook. Now, instead of letting us know, they've just been silent. I've been criticized for saying this, but I'll repeat myself: They're acting like our own little Vatican; They are trying to sweep it under the rug. That's exactly how the Vatican operates. If we can criticize the Vatican, we can criticize Howard Brown."

Currently, Winger Associations handles Howard Brown's public relations even though the agency employs a director of communications, Donald Rolfe. Garcia did not think that either the public-relations firm or HBHC's attorneys were doing a good job: "Whoever is advising them should be fired on the spot. You have to get ahead of the story but they've just allowed the rumor mill to have a field day."

Garcia pointed out that the silence could have a detrimental effect on morale and on funders, given that people in these economic times are likely to be even more stringent about where their money goes because, in his words, "Who is going to support an organization that has a cloud over it?" Asked what the agency could do to recover its public image, he responded, "The recovery point was three weeks ago—now we're way past it." He was also concerned about the effect of the scandal and silence on client services, which, he emphasized, provided much-needed health care to those who need an affirming environment: "I know people who drive in from Bolingbrook and Rockford because they don't feel like they can get health care in their communities."

State Rep. Greg Harris expressed similar concerns about the clients of Howard Brown and said he preferred to exercise caution before rushing to judgment, citing the need to "be very protective of the clients who are going to Howard Brown for health care; we need to ensure their needs are taken care of."

Lori Cannon, a community AIDS activist who works for Vital Bridges' GrocreryLand, also expressed concern about the clients when she spoke with Windy City Times. Like Garcia, she was struck by the "wall of silence" that has come down on the issue. She was also critical of the hiring of an outside firm to handle public relations, saying that the move "shows arrogance and a sense of entitlement. Donors don't appreciate that kind of attitude." However, she also noted that "Howard Brown has been at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic from day one and has provided case management, medical services and lab work to clients." Cannon worried that this situation might create "undue stress on a population that's already facing stress on a day-to-day basis." While rumors are flying, Cannon said she took no pleasure in the talk of "skullduggery and machinations."

Questions also continue to revolve around the fact that Cook and board chair Steve Phelps are reportedly ex-partners personally, and some wonder how that conflict of interest was and is being handled.

On a more recent note, this past weekend, reportedly a high-level meeting was held with HBHC donors, but no one is speaking yet about the impact of the scandal on the agency's future.

Windy City Times will continue to pursue this story.


This article shared 3099 times since Sat May 1, 2010
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker announces campaign to increase COVID-19 booster rates among older Illinoisans
2021-10-20
--From a press release - CHICAGO — With 1.5 million Illinoisans currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot and millions more set to become eligible in the coming weeks, Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) ...


Gay News

COVID Two more states and D.C. removed from Chicago's travel advisory
2021-10-19
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) removed two states and the District of Columbia from its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory on Oct. 19. The advisory now includes 45 states and two territories following the removal ...


Gay News

Ald. Maria Hadden encourages community to be active participants
2021-10-18
By Cris Villalonga-Vivoni - AIt was Chicago Ald. Maria Hadden's friends who convinced her to run for city council as the 49th Ward's alderperson. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hadden moved to Rogers Park 20 years ago after graduating from The ...


Gay News

Legacy Walk plaques added for Pauli Murray, Matthew Shepard
2021-10-17
- The Legacy Project unveiled two bronze plaques recognizing LGBTQ+ historical figures Pauli Murray and Matthew Shepard on Oct. 16. The plaques, part of Northalsted's half-mile Legacy Walk, recognized Murray and ...


Gay News

3Arts awards nearly $1M to women artists, artists of color, Deaf, disabled artists
2021-10-18
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL (OCTOBER 18, 2021)—3Arts, the Chicago-based nonprofit grantmaking organization, will award Chicago artists with nearly $1 million in unrestricted cash grants during the 14th annual 3Arts Awards, taking place ...


Gay News

Colorado becomes first state to require trans care as essential health benefit
2021-10-17
Colorado has become the first state in the country to include transition-related care for transgender people as part of the requirements for essential healthcare in the state, The Washington Blade reported. As part of the change, ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Foster-parent case, stars speak out, Texas youth, 'Queer Eye,' HIV
2021-10-17
Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Lambda Legal, together with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along ...


Gay News

LGBT Chamber of Commerce to build 1,000 school supply kits for underserved kids
2021-10-15
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Back 2 School Illinois (B2SI), the state's largest free school supply program, in partnership with the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, will host a build-A-kit event at the Center on Halsted on Monday, ...


Gay News

Dozens of celebrities, companies set to take part in Spirit Day on Oct. 21
2021-10-15
--From a press release - New York, NY, Thursday, October 14, 2021 - Today, GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, announced a preliminary list of celebrities, shows ...


Gay News

Andersonville celebrates Halloween with 'Halloween on Catalpa' Oct. 30
2021-10-15
--From a press release - CHICAGO (October 14, 2021) — Families are in for a special treat this year as Andersonville once again hosts its socially-distanced "Halloween on Catalpa" event and celebrates the return of ...


Gay News

Co-founder of LGBTQ Latinx organization reflects after decades of activism
2021-10-12
When activist Julio Rodriguez was 5 years old, a teacher forced him to stand up in class and choose another name—maybe John, she suggested, since people couldn't pronounce "Julio." By the time he got home, he ...


Gay News

South Side LGBTQ+ center projected to break ground next summer, open early 2024
2021-10-12
The $15-million LGBTQ+ center slated for creation on the city's South Side is in phase two of an anticipated five phases to completion, with a projected 2024 opening, according to stakeholders. Illinois state Rep. Lamont Robinson, ...


Gay News

Black Incubator and Accelerator (BIA) program to offer support for Black-led organizations
2021-10-12
A new program—Black Incubator and Accelerator (BIA)—is offering funding and resources to Black-led organizations that primarily serve Black communities on the South and West Sides. BIA is new this year and run by University of Chicago ...


Gay News

Coming Out for LGBTQ+ History
2021-10-11
October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day established in 1988 by members of the LGBTQ+ community to encourage people to stop hiding and be open about their identity. Coming out increases visibility of the ...


Gay News

HRC marks National Coming Out Day with new resource for youth
2021-10-11
On Oct. 11, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is commemorating the 33rd annual National Coming Out Day (NCOD) by announcing the release of a new resource, "Online Communities and LGBTQ+ Youth." "National Coming Out Day exists ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.