Cory aspires to contribute to the world as a co-constructor of social change using the art of conversation and spiritual and intellectual inquiry to uncover hidden opportunities that promote healing among the most vulnerable and exploited. He treasures community mobilization and power as critical mechanisms to achieve social change and the creation of dialogical space that leads to resistance of oppressions which disrupt wholeness.
Cory celebrates the legacy of scholarship and service acquired as an undergraduate at Morehouse College. For over 11 years, Cory served as an assistant pastor to a large congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina with an emphasis on cultivating artistic expressions of worship within the spiritual community, teaching and preaching activities and supporting community development and social justice projects.
He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in the Bloomberg School of Public Health articulating his commitment to prioritize structural context and community mobilization in public health strategies through the lens of the sexual health and well-being of Black gay men and the impact of various oppressions on the health and well-being of people who have been made vulnerable by systems of domination. Some of that work has been realized through leadership of SPARC, a student group advocating for and strategizing the inclusion of community-identified priorities at Bloomberg with attention to racism and other intersectional oppressions experienced by Baltimore communities. He also serves as a steering committee member of the CounterNarrative Project based in Atlanta, Georgia which seeks to build power among Black gay men through love, joy, political education, mobilization and capacity building efforts.
Damian J. Denson
Dr. Denson is a behavioral scientist with over twelve years of research experience in a number of local, state, and national public health initiatives. He has worked in health policy, epidemiology, intervention development, evaluation, behavioral surveillance, and data collection and monitoring. He was both a former National Institute on Drug Abuse Pre-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and a Satcher Health Policy Leadership Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine. While at UIC, he served as a researcher with the Community Outreach Intervention Projects studying psychosocial determinants, internet use, substance abuse, and HIV risk behaviors among minority men who have sex with men (MSM). He currently works within the Prevention Research Branch of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His current projects assess the barriers and facilitators to HIV prevention, care, and treatment for populations at risk including MSM, substance users, youth, and transgender persons. Dr. Denson also holds a Master of Public Health degree (Community Health) from New York University and a Bachelor of Science degree (Biology) from Xavier University of Louisiana.
Suraj is a Senior Health Policy Officer for Treatment Action Group (TAG).
Prior to joining TAG, Suraj was formerly the Associate Director of the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA) and National/Federal Policy at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago – working extensively in collaboration with CNP. Collaborations include launching the We Are Here blog tour focused on the lives of Black gay men living in the South and HIV, co-authoring a report submitted to the UN on racial disparities in the HIV epidemic, and advocacy campaign planning for the liberation of Michael L. Johnson - who is currently incarcerated in Missouri under their HIV criminalization law.
As a writer and activist, Suraj has been continuously inspired by the poetry of Essex Hemphill – a Black gay poet who lived with HIV from his hometown of Chicago. From 2009-2012 he led a writing-based advocacy and empowerment initiative at Howard Brown Health for LGBTQ youth living with HIV, focused on youth resilience and leadership development on HIV policy issues. Often opening each meeting with a reading of a line from Hemphill’s poetry.
Ayesha McAdams-Mahmoud, MPH, is currently a doctoral student at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health where she studies Social and Behavioral Sciences with a focus on health communication and mental health. Her research focuses on how storytelling and art can be used to heal families and communities. She received her Masters in Public Health from Emory University, and has worked as a behavioral scientist, strategic health communication specialist, and qualitative researcher domestically and internationally for the past 8 years. Before working in public health, she was a journalist and performing artist.
Robert is the Assistant Director of The Sero Project, a network of people living with HIV and allies fighting for freedom from stigma and injustice.
Upon his release in January 2011, Robert has become engaged in anti-criminalization advocacy work. He was convicted under Louisiana’s HIV-specific criminal statute after accepting a plea bargain and served six months in a Louisiana prison for HIV non-disclosure to a former partner, with whom he had a contentious relationship.
Robert is featured in the short film HIV is Not a Crime, has traveled abroad sharing his story, currently serves as board co-chair of the North American regional affiliate of the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+NA), and remains active with the Positive Justice Project and HIV Justice Network.
Prior to joining Sero in March 2012, Robert previously worked with young African American men who have sex with men as a case manager and prevention specialist at the Philadelphia Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. He has been living with HIV for 13 years.