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SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center

Our Mission, Vision, & Values
Meet the Team
Our Work: Community Investment
Contact Us


The Initiative: Gilead COMPASS Initiative®

The Gilead COMPASS (COMmitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Southern States) Initiative is an unprecedented $100 million commitment over 10 years to support organizations working to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States. The South is most affected by the HIV epidemic, accounting for 54% of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. In response to the Southern HIV epidemic, the initiative focuses on providing concentrated investments in the region to reduce HIV-related health disparities, build awareness, advance education, and reduce stigma. The Gilead COMPASS Initiative includes corporate giving programs, independent medical education grants, and the AIDSVu partnership.

The Center: SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center

The SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work is one of three COMPASS Coordinating Centers working to address HIV/AIDS in The South by focusing on mental health, trauma-informed care, substance use (especially harm reduction and the opioid epidemic) and wellness in the context of HIV/AIDS. More information about our Center can be found online at:

Our Partners: Coordinating Centers & ETR

Through the corporate giving program of the Gilead COMPASS InitiativeⓇ, three Coordinating Centers - Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and the Southern AIDS Coalition - will implement HIV-related programming and provide funding to local organizations that are committed to addressing the epidemic throughout the South. Community investment through grants, trainings, and shared learning opportunities will focus on three primary areas: (1) capacity building and shared knowledge; (2) wellbeing, mental health, substance use and trauma-informed care; and (3) awareness, education and anti-stigma campaigns. The COMPASS Initiative’s unique approach to addressing the HIV epidemic in the South is guided by five overarching principles.

Reflecting COMPASS’ commitment to data-driven programming, Gilead has also partnered with ETR to serve as the evaluator. Monitoring and evaluation systems are being established for the collection, analysis, and reporting of key evaluation data, with the purpose of informing continuous improvement. A non-profit organization that advances health equity by designing science-based solutions, ETR brings over three decades of experience in the field of HIV, sexual, and reproductive health. Most recently, with support from Gilead Sciences, ETR implemented the Intentional Advocates project which worked intensively with six organizations on capacity-building plans and aided their strategic communications and enhanced advocacy efforts in the South.

Our Funder: Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need. The company strives to transform and simplify care for people with life-threatening illnesses around the world. Gilead has operations in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California. Gilead is a leading contributor to domestic and global HIV/AIDS funding, with $452 million in grants disbursed in 2016. They rank #1 in the total number of grants awarded, with 871 HIV/AIDS-related grants provided in 2016.

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Our Mission, Vision, & Values

Guided by local communities disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in the Southern United States, the three COMPASS Coordinating Centers are working collaboratively to build capacity among organizations, institutions, and other entities to reduce HIV/AIDS disparities in care and advance equities in the Southern United States.

The COMPASS Initiative works to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States by partnering with local communities and supporting evidence-based solutions to meet the needs of people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS.


  • Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MIPA) - We recognize the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in all levels of the initiative and aim to ensure that people living with and most affected by HIV are involved in every level of decision making.
  • Intersectionality, Emphasizing Racial and Social Justice - In our commitment to applying race, culture, gender, sexuality, language, class, age, and ability analyses throughout the different community investments, we recognize that social privilege and oppression influence access to and allocation of resources/services. For example, we recognize that racism, in both interpersonal and structural forms, needs to be addressed directly to achieve equity. Therefore, we affirm the importance of advancing justice by increasing access to resources/services among groups disproportionately affected by HIV.
  • Openness, Transparency and Learning - We strive to demonstrate and promote a culture of integrity. Our commitments to openness, transparency, and learning jointly express values that are vital to our work. Our work—both internal and external—is situated in complex institutional and cultural environments. We achieve our goals by being adaptive, learning organizations that are open and transparent.
  • Collaboration and Commitment - We base our collaborative efforts on mutual respect and mutual support, both internally and externally. In our commitment to developing trusting relationships, we aspire to treat everyone who works with us with respect and understanding. We are also committed to collaborating with and serving communities and areas with the greatest needs.

Meet the Team 



Samira Ali, PhD, LMSW - Center Director



Maria Wilson, LMSW, LVN - Program Manager


Katie McCormick, MSW - Program Coordinator


Becca Keo-Meier, MSW - PhD Student


Thea Lau - Financial Coordinator


Marcus Stanley, BS, MPHc - Project Officer


Megan Stanton, MSW, PhD - Evaluator


SUSTAIN Advocacy Group (SAG)

The SUSTAIN Advocacy Group (SAG) is a diverse group of members comprised of nine deep south states disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. Each member, chosen by HIV leaders to represent his/her/their respective state, brings a combination of lived expertise, community involvement, and grassroots advocacy backgrounds to this collaborative experience. Using MIPA (Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS) principles, SAG’s mission is to advise the University of Houston’s SUSTAIN Leadership Team on matters of programming, processes, and evaluation. Further, the SAG membership is committed to serving as disclosed ambassadors for all its collaboration during each member’s tenure.

warren-o_meara-dates.jpgWarren A. O’Meara-Dates (AL)




 maria-mejia.jpgMaria Mejia (FL)




masonia-traylor.jpgMasonia Traylor (GA)




alexis-powell.jpgAlexis Powell (LA)




courtney-johnson-1.jpgCourtney Johnson (MS)




eddie-wiley.jpgEddie Wiley (TN)




venita-ray.jpgVenita Ray (TX)

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Our Work: Community Investment


The COMPASS Initiative seeks to create long-term, sustainable change in leaders, organizations, and communities by supporting capacity building strategies that will strengthen the infrastructure and support the viability of organizations that serve those living with HIV/AIDS. Our unique community-centered trainings explore how systematic oppression, stigma, and racial, ethnic, and gender inequities impact the South. The three Coordinating Centers will provide individual consultations, and group trainings to facilitate individual or organizational change among organizations in the South. These trainings and consultations will focus on addressing the COMPASS Initiative focus areas including capacity building, stigma reduction, trauma-informed care, and well-being among people living with HIV.

To request one or more trainings on behalf of your organization, please submit an online training request detailing the information, resources, or training topic(s) from which your organization may benefit. The appropriate Coordinating Center will respond to your training request within 72 business hours from the time of submission. Please visit the COMPASS Initiative’s website for more information:


The COMPASS Coordinating Centers provide community grants to organizations across the Southern United States to support the development of programs and activities that align with programmatic focus areas of the COMPASS Initiative. There are multiple shared learning opportunities offered through the COMPASS Initiative. To learn more about each type of grant, eligibility, funding cycles, and our current partners, please visit the COMPASS Initiative website:

Shared Learning

Shared Learning Opportunities are longer-term opportunities for organizations to repeatedly come together and collaboratively build their organization’s infrastructure, learn best practices from each other, and connect with subject matter experts. There are multiple shared learning opportunities offered through the COMPASS Initiative. Please visit the COMPASS Initiative’s website for more information:

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Contact Us

Whether you’re looking for more information about the COMPASS Initiative, you’re experiencing technical difficulties, or you’re a member of the press, we look forward to talking with you! Please visit the COMPASS Initiative website to contact us: 

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Why does the COMPASS Initiative focus on the Southern US?
The Southern U.S. is home to 37% of the country’s population but accounts for 44% of all those living with HIV. The region also includes 21 of the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest HIV prevalence among same gender loving and bisexual men. Additionally, the Southern U.S. accounts for 52% of all new HIV diagnoses, making it the most affected region in the entire country.

What are the different types of Community Investments made by the COMPASS Initiative?
The COMPASS Coordinating Centers provide trainings, grants, and shared learning opportunities to organizations in the Southern United States to support the development of programs and activities that align with our programmatic focus areas. You can read more about our programmatic focus areas here .

Who is eligible to apply for the different types of Community Investment?
Currently, the Coordinating Centers will target their work across the nine-state Deep South region – Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas – providing community grants, shared learning opportunities , and trainings to organizations in the region. To be eligible for the different types of community investments, organizations must be located in and doing work in one of the nine Deep South states and be a non-profit, tax-exempt organization as set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If your organization does not hold 501(c)(3) status, you must have a fiscal sponsor to apply.

How can I receive updates about the COMPASS Initiative?
Subscribe for email updates about the work the COMPASS Initiative is doing in the South, for new community investment and funding announcements, and to find out about new features available on our website and in the COMPASS Community Portal.

Are there plans to expand COMPASS to other cities/regions?
COMPASS will focus on the Southern U.S. at present, with future plans to be determined.

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