Director, Government Affairs
How many people can say they have built their careers on one heartfelt passion, let alone two? Donna Crews can; she has fused her passion for federal politics with her dedication to ending the HIV epidemic as AIDS United’s Director of Government Affairs. At AIDS United, Crews works closely with members of the House of Representatives, Senate, and Administration to develop sound policies and programs in response to the HIV epidemic in the United States.
A 24-year veteran of federal policy and politics, Crews began her Congressional career working as a staff person for Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), who served 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the first African American congressman from New Jersey. But it was her work as Director of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), under the leadership of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), that Crews discovered her passion for HIV advocacy, as one of the architects of the Congressional Minority AIDS Initiative. Now at AIDS United Crews is the co-chair of the AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition and is an architect of the community budget and appropriations strategy.
“HIV as an issue became very important to me,” said Crews. “The epidemic continues to ravage the African American community— especially women, young men who have sex with men (MSM). Being the parent of a college-age daughter just strengthens my resolve to do my part to end the epidemic.
Crews insists that stigma is driving the disease in the African-American community. Lack of access to healthcare services; lack of prevention and education; and laws that criminalize HIV status all reinforce that stigma.
“We must work to reduce HIV stigma in this country,” Crews said. “Education of one another and our lawmakers is the key to dispelling that stigma.
“The best part of my job is talking with people and getting them to understand their importance in the Congressional world,” Crews said. “I truly enjoy helping them know that they are experts in their community and that their Members of Congress need to hear their stories! Our lawmakers need to understand that HIV/AIDS affects all of us, and that we all can do our part to end it in our lifetime.”
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