Category Archives: News + Events

Mary Fisher, Keynote Speaker at SMART’s Graduation

SMART’s 16th Annual Graduation

SMART cordially invites you to our 16th Annual Graduation this Wedn

SMART-Staff-Graduation-2013esday, June 18th from 4:30pm-7:30pm being held at SCAN LaGuardia Memorial House on 307 East 116th Street in East Harlem. Our graduation is a unique experience. We celebrate, recognize and honor the women and their accomplishments that we have witnessed throughout the academic year. Each woman has a different story to tell, and each woman has gained something of value from SMART. A dinner prepared by our SMART Body women that showcases their exquisite culinary talents will follow the ceremony. (SMART staff pictured, clockwise from top left: Gloria Searson, Susan Rodriguez, Janet Carter and Sam Clare.)

This year, we are thrilled and deeply honored to have Mary Fisher as our keynote speaker! Mary is a gifted artist, relentless advocate for vulnerable women, and a mother. By mid-1991, Mary was a recognized artist and the recently divorced mother of two young sons, Zachary and Max, when she was diagnosed HIV-positive. In early 1992, at the urging of AIDS activists struggling with both the disease and discrimination, she went public with her diagnosis.  Several months later, she strode onto a stage at the Republican National Convention. The stigmatizing image of AIDS as “a gay disease” drew special attention to Mary’s story.  By the time she finished her Convention address in August, she had become a voice for those who dared not speak out.

Over the past two decades, Mary has balanced her passion for art and her commitment as an advocate. Her work as a world-class jewelry designer has led to lines of bracelets produced by vulnerable women in Africa. She has authored six books, given countless speeches, and traveled the globe as a Special Representative of the United Nations representing the call to justice and healing for those most affected by poverty, violence and AIDS.

Catherine Hanssens, Founder and Executive Director of The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), will be presented with the John Falkenberg Lifetime Achievement Award at the event. The Award acknowledges extraordinary individuals who have dedicated their work to improving the health and lives of others by fighting for human rights and social justice. As director of CHLP, the first national legal resource and strategy center for people with HIV and their advocates, Catherine has drawn national attention to HIV criminalization – the use of criminal law to penalize people living with HIV for conduct that would be indisputably legal if they did not get tested or know their status.

Please view the invitation here and RSVP your attendance to clare.sam@gmail.com. If you are unable to attend, please support our work by making an on-line tax deductible donation here. As a small grassroots organization, any amount, large or small, helps ensure that we are able to celebrate and continue the transformative experiences of SMART women today and for years to come.

Press Release: SMART’s 16th Graduation & Catherine Hanssens receiving the John Falkenberg Lifetime Achievement Award

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CHLP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CATHERINE HANSSENS TO BE HONORED WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Sam Clare, Project Manager; clare.sam@gmail.com

New York, NY – May 28, 2014.  Catherine Hanssens, founder and executive director of The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) has been selected by SMART (Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research & Treatment) as the 2014 recipient of the John Falkenberg Lifetime Achievement Award. The award acknowledges extraordinary individuals who have dedicated their work to improving the health and lives of others by fighting for human rights and social justice.

 “We are deeply honored to give Catherine this award in John Falkenberg’s name, and I know that he would be pleased as well,” says Susan Rodriguez, Founding Director of SMART.  “Catherine has been a true champion for people living with HIV/AIDS. Catherine has been an unwavering activist and advocate for human rights and dignity for all people even in the face of adversity.”

 As director of CHLP, the first national legal resource and strategy center for people with HIV and their advocates, Hanssens has drawn national attention to HIV criminalization – the use of criminal law to penalize people living with HIV for conduct that would be indisputably legal if they did not get tested or know their status.

 She led the development and launch of the Positive Justice Project (PJP), a national coalition working to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV in the criminal justice system.  PJP released the first national consensus statement against HIV criminalization, featuring more than 750 organizational and individual signatories. In response to HIV criminalization, the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) passed a resolution on HIV criminalization recommending federal review of HIV-specific laws, and proposed federal legislation – the HIV REPEAL Act – was introduced in Congress to provide incentives for states to explore repeal or reform of laws and practices.

 Most recently, Hanssens co-authored a public policy report, A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV, drawing critical intersectional connections between discrimination and criminalization based on sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status and HIV status.

 The John Falkenberg Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented at SMART’s Graduation Ceremony on June 18th at SCAN LaGuardia Memorial House on 307 East 116th Street, New York, New York.

SMART was founded in 1998 by and for women living with HIV/AIDS in New York City.  Its mission is to improve the quality of life for participants through a gender-specific educational model providing a comprehensive approach to treatment and health education for women and adolescents.

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The Center for HIV Law and Policy is a national legal and policy resource and strategy center for people living with HIV and their advocates. CHLP’s mission is to reduce HIV’s impact on vulnerable and marginalized communities by securing the human rights of people affected by HIV.