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SP2 announces Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, as 2024 Commencement speaker

Douglas Brooks

Authored by: SP2

Student Life

03/28/24

Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) announced today that Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, a nationally recognized leader in HIV and health care policy and advocacy, as well as a senior leadership fellow at SP2, will deliver the School’s 2024 Commencement speech on May 18. Learn more from today’s message from SP2 Dean Sara “Sally” S. Bachman, PhD.

Dear SP2 Community,

I am thrilled to announce that the 2024 Commencement address for the School of Social Policy & Practice will be delivered by SP2 Senior Leadership Fellow Douglas M. Brooks, MSW. 

Mr. Brooks is a nationally recognized leader in HIV and health care policy and advocacy. His career has taken him from local community health clinics to the pinnacles of the nonprofit and the corporate worlds, as well as to the White House. There he served as the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) under President Obama and spearheaded an update to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Compelled by the incidence and prevalence data which revealed disparate impact, Mr. Brooks and his team focused ONAP’s attention on the populations most affected by HIV —including gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities, Black and Latino communities, and people living in the southern U.S. Prior to ONAP, Douglas was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and was subsequently named that body’s liaison to the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee under President Obama. Here at SP2, Mr. Brooks has served as a senior leadership fellow, working with students, staff, and faculty to advance leadership training. Please read more about Mr. Brooks’ impressive career below. 

The SP2 Graduation Ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at The Palestra at 6:30 p.m. ET. There will be an SP2 Pre-Ceremony Reception 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Inn at Penn located at 3600 Sansom Street. Please see the Commencement Schedule for more details. 

All the best, 

Sally 

Sara S. Bachman, PhD

Dean

School of Social Policy & Practice

University of Pennsylvania

Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, is a nationally recognized leader in social work and public health practice, policy, and advocacy, with much of his career having been focused on HIV prevention, care, and treatment. In each of his positions, Mr. Brooks has used his platform to advocate for marginalized communities and to improve the social determinants that foster equitable health outcomes. Mr. Brooks began his career as a case manager and program coordinator, followed by work as a social work clinician and program director in Massachusetts. Through progressively increasing roles and responsibilities he eventually led a team of professionals in managing a community health center, congregate and assisted-living housing services, and social service programs as the senior vice president for community health at the Justice Resource Institute (JRI), a regional health and human service agency in New England. While at JRI, Mr. Brooks also collaborated with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province Department of Health on strategies for developing partnerships between government and people living with HIV. Mr. Brooks was particularly instrumental in the development of an effective, and later nationally recognized, pre-antiretroviral treatment strategy known as the Integrated Access to Care and Treatment (I ACT) Program.  

Mr. Brooks’ career has taken him from local community health practice to the pinnacles of the nonprofit and the corporate worlds and to the White House where he served as the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) under President Obama and spearheaded an update to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Compelled by CDC and NIH incidence and prevalence data which revealed disparate impact, Mr. Brooks and his team focused ONAP’s attention on the populations most affected by HIV —including gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities, Black and Latino communities, and people living in the southern U.S. Prior to ONAP, Mr. Brooks was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and was subsequently named that body’s liaison to the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee under President Obama.  

Building on his experience at the White House, Mr. Brooks served as the executive director of community engagement at Gilead Sciences, where he partnered with internal and external teams to create and execute programs designed to mitigate inequities in health outcomes domestically and globally. Later, as vice president of advancing black equity and community engagement, Mr. Brooks led an enterprise-wide strategic framework to tackle systemic issues of structural, anti-Black racism and health-based inequities. Over his time at Gilead, he helped the company manage complex issues, particularly in the field of HIV, and contributed to the design of programs that continue to make real and sustained change. He was one of the architects of Gilead’s COMPASS Initiative®, a 10-year, $100 million commitment to addressing HIV in the Southern United States, and Gilead’s largest corporate giving program. He also pioneered a partnership with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine to assess and develop recommendations for addressing racial inequities in the treatment of COVID-19 and other significant health issues.  

Mr. Brooks joined SP2 in March of 2023 as the first senior leadership fellow and has worked closely with the offices of the dean and the associate dean for student services to develop programs focused on leadership and student engagement. He is also serving as a formal and informal mentor to students and an advisor to the dean. In Spring 2024, Mr. Brooks worked as part of a Philadelphia Health Department-funded project team, led by Dr. Tamara Cadet, to engage older adults living with HIV in focus groups to understand their medical, psychosocial, and social-service needs.    

Mr. Brooks holds a BS from Lesley University and a MSW from Boston University. He has served on multiple nonprofit, government, and foundation boards and advisory committees, including the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, chair of the Board of Trustees of AIDS United, a national advocacy/grantmaking organization, and co-chair of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Mr. Brooks has received numerous awards and honors. In 2015, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fordham University. He has received the Bayard Rustin Award from the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, the Cleve Jones Leadership Award from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the Harlem United Community Impact Award, and in the late spring of this year will receive the Paul Revere Award, the highest award of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.   

People