Special 20-Year Anniversary Event: NLAAD and its Rockstars From Beginning Till Today

Special 20-Year Anniversary Event: NLAAD and its Rockstars From Beginning Till Today

National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day is turning 20 years and what better moment to reunite all the Directors who have shaped the campaign. They started it, they made it grow, they kept it alive and they transformed it into the national campaign we have today. This conversation provides an opportunity to hear directly from these leaders the behind-the-scenes of running a social marketing campaign and how impactful NLAAD has been in their professional careers. Register here.

Nuris Rodriguez – NLAAD Director 2003 – 2004
Nuris Rodriguez-Pabon is a licensed clinical social worker and CEO of Hope and Esperanza Community Health Center, an FQHC Look Alike in Newark, NJ where they see mosty uninsured and underinsured Latino patients. She has over 25 years of experience in public health programming, direct service and management within government, community and healthcare settings. She is originally from New York where she started working in HIV./AIDS. She has her own clinical practice in New Jersey where she lives with her wife of 20 years and their two wonderful children.

Wesley Tahsir-Rodriguez – NLAAD Director 2005-2006
Wesley Tahsir-Rodriguez, MPH is a healthcare leader focused on innovation, technology adoption and strategic planning to achieve health equity. Most recently he was Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) network serving primarily indigent communities in Southeast Queens and Brooklyn, NY. The health services provided at these clinics are open to all regardless of insurance or citizenship status. Prior to that, Wesley worked at the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency that provides direct funding for public health services at the community level.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wesley was part of a group of volunteer health policy professionals that created the COVID-19 contact tracing program for Newark. He served as the program’s lead recruiter, trainer, and manager of the first cohort of 30 volunteer contact tracers in the early days of the pandemic. The program’s design and implementation model was adopted by the entire state of New Jersey.

Wesley has worked as director of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and Housing for People Living with AIDS in Newark. He directed a technical assistance program for HIV health service providers at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He also has hospital administration experience at Rutgers University Medical School/University Hospital and St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in New York. His goal in all his work is to ensure everyone has access to comprehensive, affordable, and appropriate quality medical care.

Wesley earned a bachelor’s in American Studies at Lehigh in 2000 and an MPH at the Rutgers School of Public Health in 2006 focusing on urban health policy and administration. He had entered Lehigh with a desire to become a doctor but ended up more interested in focusing on challenges plaguing systems of care.

Liliana Rañon – NLAAD Director 2008 -2009
Liliana Rañon is vice president of External Affairs at the National Association of Broadcasters. She is responsible for managing NAB’s partnerships with third-party groups on legislative and regulatory issues affecting local broadcasters.

Rañon comes to NAB with prior experience in community engagement and government affairs, most recently as community manager at the Obama Foundation. In that position, she helped the organization develop relationships with stakeholders focused on increasing civic engagement among young people, one of the foundation’s key priorities. Previously, Rañon served as director of Community Empowerment at Univision Communications, where she helped manage the company’s social responsibility efforts. Rañon worked on health care and public policy prior to joining Univision, including three years with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and three years with the Department of Health and Human Services. Rañon holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Northeastern University.

Melissa Ramirez – NLAAD Director 2010 -2012
Explored over 50 countries, trained in esoterism and deeply knowing my purpose and passion as a Shamanic Priestess and Intuitive Coach, I hold space and guide those healing and expanding in their Awakening and Ascension process. A Colombian New Yorker currently living in Hawai’i where I host healing and rebirthing retreats.

Tony Ochoa – NLAAD Director 2013 -2016
Tony Ochoa is deeply committed to addressing systemic disparities affecting underserved communities. With over 15 years of experience working with mission-driven organizations overcoming health, education, and justice inequities, he’s developed and led strategies that interweave social impact, human-centered design, marketing, and cross-sector collaboration. Currently, Tony is serving as Next Chapter’s COO, a social venture dedicated to forging lucrative career pathways for previously incarcerated individuals in tech, all the while facilitating the adoption of equitable hiring practices across the sector. He holds a BS from Stanford University in Engineering, completed the University of Pennsylvania’s Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy, and currently lives in Los Angeles with his English Bulldog, Bronx.

Luis Alberto Mares – NLAAD Director 2017 to present
Luis is the Director of Community Mobilization at the Latino Commission on AIDS, working in the planning, developing, and implementing of NLAAD and NHHAD, with which the Commission coordinates efforts nationwide with partners in every state and US territory to provide education, outreach, training and create HIV and Hepatitis awareness in the Latino community. Luis is also a NYU Field Supervisor for 2nd year MSW Interns.

Luis was part of the ETE Non-English Speaking advisory subcommittee for the New York AIDS Institute, he was part of the AIDS United Community Mobilization Subcommittee, the NYC AIDS World Day Event Planning Committee, and currently is part of the HepFree NYC Committee and the NYC Hepatitis Awareness Event Planning Committee. At the commission Luis also plays an important role in coordinating the annual visits during the NYS Hispanic Educational Days in Albany. Luis began his professional career as an MD in his native Peru, where he graduated from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in 1993. He moved to New York City in 1997. Almost immediately started with the homeless community infected with HIV, from 1998 to 2012, initially as the Health Care Coordinator and then as the Program Director at the Jamaica YMCA Transitional Housing Program located in Queens, acting as the Director of the Residence Department for the YMCA as well. Luis received his master’s in social work in 2017 from New York University and immediately joined the Latino Commission on AIDS. In 2022 Luis published an article on the “HIV Specialist” Magazine, in which he described NLAAD and the importance of creating awareness on HIV as a fundamental part of ending the epidemic plan for 2030. Also, during 2022 Luis was included in the POZ 100 of the year by “POZ Magazine”, honored for his work as a Latino advocate, and the “City and State New York” Magazine included within the “100 Most Responsible New Yorkers List” for 2022. His alma mater NYU highlighted his work on World AIDS Day.