Recently, Howard Brown Health Center announced its choice of Michael C. Cook, the current head of Interfaith House, as its new executive director effective Oct. 24.
Windy City Times briefly spoke with Cook about finishing at one facility and starting at another.
Windy City Times: Since your new position starts soon, what are you doing at Interfaith?
Michael Cook: I'm wrapping things up for the transition. Interfaith is searching for a new executive director and I expect the search to conclude shortly. I [ also ] expect the transition to be pretty smooth—and I expect our connections to still be there after I leave.
WCT: What convinced you to join Howard Brown?
MC: Well, I've been involved with Howard Brown for over 15 years in one way or another—and I've always been committed to them, so it's a very good fit for me. I was very happy that Howard Brown came to me.
WCT: Are there any particular services you're thinking of concentrating on?
MC: The first thing I want to do is to find out exactly where we are with our various programs and services—and do a complete review to make sure we're doing everything we need to do.
One thing I want to look at is the terrible situation of HIV in the minority community. I think Howard Brown has an obligation to redouble its efforts in addressing that issue. The statistics are frightening. I've been working with minority communities for my three years at Interfaith House, so that issue is important to me.
The other issue that I think is important is the one regarding substance abuse and crystal meth. We need to deal with that head on and [ possibly ] redouble our efforts there, too.
WCT: Have you spoken at all with [ former Howard Brown executive director ] Keith Waterbrook recently? Has he given you any advice?
MC: Honestly, I haven't spoken with Keith for a few months.
WCT: Is there going to be an official meet-and-greet?
MC: At your house? [ Laughs. ] I assume that there will be. Right now, I've been focusing on firming up our connections at Interfaith House; I want to make sure that this agency is positioned to continue.
For more information about Howard Brown, see www.howardbrown.org .