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P.J. Moton-Poole Aspires to Inspire

P.J. Moton-Poole recently joined the AIDS United team in October 2018, as a program manager for the Southern HIV Impact Fund. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, P.J. works remotely from his home in Dallas, TX. He brings ten years of experience in the field of HIV research, prevention, and care, specifically focusing on communities in the South. We caught up with P.J. to learn more about his journey to AIDS United, his work in the South, and what keeps him motivated.

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got involved in this work?

I am a husband, soon to be father (literally days away), son, older brother, uncle, and mentor. I am a spirit, navigating a wonderful and beautiful human experience. I began my work in the field as a model for safe sex campaigns during my freshman year of college. Before you knew it, not only was I the face for this messaging but also a spokes person across southern regions for young, black, gay/bi men regarding taking ownership of their sexual health.

Before coming to AIDS United, you worked with us as a grantee of the Southern HIV Impact Fund. What does it feel like to be on the “other side”?

Coming from a grantee partner organization to the grantmaking side of things has been a really enriching experience. I feel that both sides have been mutually beneficial in my professional development. As a grantee partner I was able to come to AIDS United with an in-depth understanding of issues our Southern communities face and help shape our grantmaking practices to be more community-centered. As a grant maker/manager, I am able to engage communities and organizations in a way that is trust-led and authentic. This type of relationship gives organizations the space to be vulnerable with fear of compromising their resources. It creates space for collaborative capacity building.

The Southern HIV Impact Fund is a huge project, which includes millions in grant funding, but also has a large focus on leadership development. What are you most looking forward to in working with the leadership development cohort?

The Leadership Development Program is my passion project. I am proud and excited to be leading this venture this year. Not long ago I completed a similar program with another organization and I found it to be really transformative in my professional journey. I hope to impart this same type of experience for this years’ participants.

As a Southerner working to end the HIV epidemic in the South, what do you want the rest of the country to know about the South?

The South is a melting pot of multi-cultural vibrations. And just like any other major city/region that has turned the tide on what HIV looks like (NYC, The Bay, etc.), Southern cities deserve the same autonomy and resources to implement what works for them. This traditional trend of trying to infuse “practices” that work in other regions has wasted resources for years. If we truly value Southern bodies like we say we do we will create a table and let them have the seats to decide how best to combat the epidemic in their respective cities/regions.

You’ve previously shared with me that you are inspired by the “unapologetic rise of communities of color who are recognizing their power in ways that will change the world.” Can you speak more on this?

As a kid I was very imaginative. I saw myself being everything from a daytime talk show host to a physician specializing in neonatal care, to Broadway star and I didn’t want to choose one thing, I wanted to be them all. The thing that changed my trajectory was that I didn’t see anyone who looked like me doing any of these things, so it all became just an abstract childhood dream to do any of it. Today is different, communities of color, specifically Black people are literally dominating industries across the board. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to see myself reflected in these things as a young person, it brings me great pride to see and be a part of today’s cohort of inspirational leaders. I am grateful that today’s youth will literally be able to dream up anything, but also see themselves doing it through the trailblazers of today.

How do you stay motivated in your work?

I aspire to inspire. As long as I can find ways to inspire others through my work, my happiness is fueled and I can live on to lead another day.

Thank you for all that you do, P.J.!

Posted By: Sarah Hashmall, Communications Manager - Monday, February 04, 2019

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