President and CEO
For AIDS United President and CEO Michael Kaplan, working in HIV/AIDS is not just a job, it is a life calling. A calling that he has had since shortly after testing positive for HIV in 1992, when he was just 23 years old.
“I think of working in HIV as a vocation, and not work,” he said.
Just finishing up his graduate degree at the time of his HIV diagnosis, Kaplan decided he wanted to focus on issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. But with time, he realized that he could not focus on LGBTQ youth without addressing HIV, which has disproportionately impacted the community since the epidemic’s beginning.
“I realized that I could not do one without the other, said Kaplan, “and that all of it is linked in a social justice framework.”
Kaplan has served as AIDS United’s President and CEO since December 1, 2012. Prior to AIDS United, he was the Executive Director of Cascade AIDS Project (CAP), the largest and oldest AIDS service organization serving Oregon and South West Washington. During his four year tenure at CAP, Kaplan led the organization through a re-organization that resulted in reduced operating costs, expanded programming and increased revenue through fundraising and development efforts. Under his leadership, CAP was rated by its employees as one of the best 100 non‐profits to work for in Oregon in 2010, 2011 & 2012.
“I feel very lucky to have a job, and a career, that is tied so closely to my passions and dreams,” Kaplan said. “At AIDS United, I have the opportunity to work across so many communities and geographies within the U.S. and to support the work of so many organizations serving people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Kaplan’s previous work has included several senior management positions at the Academy for Educational Development (AED), including Vice President for International HIV/AIDS Programs. His work in the LGBTQ community included Deputy Director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition in Washington, D.C., and founding Executive Director of District 202 in Minneapolis, MN, a youth center by and for LGBTQ youth. He has served on the Board of Directors of several organizations focusing on everything from HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ issues, to behavior health care and nonprofit management.
Kaplan is encouraged by the recent advances that are being made in the HIV field, and is more determined than ever to ensuring that those advances are advocated for, promoted and implemented.
“I believe that we can make a difference,” he said. “I believe real change can happen -- now more than ever. We truly can end AIDS in the U.S. in my life time.”