April 13, 2006

Members of ASC's Consumer Advisory Committee join with ASC Deputy Director Brenda Starks-Ross (who serves as Staff Liaison to the Council) and ASC Executive Director Sharen I. Duke following the committee's February meeting.

Standing (L–R): Willie George, Kenny S. Stone, Sr., Brenda Starks-Ross, Tracy M. Collins, Lillian Cotto-Anglada, Ellen Richardson, Max D. Hernández, Alantheia Pena, and Sharen I. Duke. Seated (L–R): Darnell Robinson, Caryn Lessman Vasquez, and Claudette L. Hobbs
ASC's commitment to excellence includes continual efforts to refine our programming so that it truly meets the needs of the diverse communities we serve. To maximize our level of responsiveness, ASC sponsors a Consumer Advisory Council composed of persons living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS, recovering substance users, women of color, and community members recruited from ASC's array of programs.

In 2005, the council advised ASC on new service programs and grant proposal development, helped us to identify services to meet the needs of our Latino clients, assisted in designing recruitment strategies for ASC's many support groups, participated in the evaluation of agency services through ASC's annual agency-wide client satisfaction survey, and completed a brochure to recruit new members to the council. And that's just the start.

Along with providing a vital mechanism for quality improvement and accountability, ASC's Community Advisory Council educates the community and elected representatives about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and services in New York City. As men and women directly affected by the epidemic, their voices are an essential part of the continuing public dialogue about how to address the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and promote effective prevention in communities at risk.

Community Advisory Boards are mandated for organizations like ASC that receive Ryan White CARE Act Title I funds. However, as ASC's Deputy Executive Director Brenda Starks-Ross observes, ASC does not view its Consumer Advisory Council as a mere obligation, but as an integral part of the agency. Ms. Starks-Ross, who has served as ASC's Staff Liaison to the council for six years, adds, "We believe deeply in the partnership between ASC and its consumers because this partnership raises the agency's level of excellence. Our commitment to the council is represented not only by my presence at every meeting, but also by the Executive Director's attendance at several council meetings each year. We all believe strongly in the council's mission. We like being accountable to our customers. We know it strengthens our agency."

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