INTERVIEW WITH LAURA PINSKY, GHAP CO-FOUNDER
In this interview, GHAP co-founder, Laura Pinsky, and current GHAP director, Daniel Chiarilli, recount the founding of GHAP and the atmosphere both nationally and on Columbia's campus during the early years of the AIDS epidemic.
ARE YOU A GHAP ALUMNUS?
We'd love to continue to grow our People page with the names, photos and, if possible, the stories of those who have worked as a GHAP advocate or in support of GHAP and our mission at Columbia.
If you are interested in being the archive and sharing your story, please let us know. Also, if you are an alumnus and are looking to get in touch with another former GHAP advocate, we may be able to help you connect. Either way, we'll be happy to hear from you!
THE PEOPLE OF GHAP
Click a name below to view an individual's bio and interview transcript, where available.
Will Hughes is a Columbia alumnus, graduating from Columbia College with the class of 2013. While at Columbia, Will was Vice President of Policy for the Columbia College Student Council, and President of the Columbia University Performing Arts League.
He also acted as the lead for the Advocates for the Arts Initiative, a student advisory committee formed in 2009 to safeguard and preserve the Columbia University Arts Initiative, created by University President Lee Bollinger in 2004. The Arts Initiative was created to make the arts part of the experience of every Columbia student's education and to promote a life-long involvement in the arts. After Bollinger announced that management of the Arts Initiative would move from the President's Office to the Columbia School of the Arts, students became worried that the move was a sign that the program would be dissolved and formed the Advocates for the Arts Initiative committee. Under Will's leadership, the Initiative was approved for full funding due in large part to a successful petition campaign Will had overseen.
Will was also very active in organizations for the LGBTQ+ community, including the Columbia Queer Alliance, Gender Revolution both of which he worked alongside to push for a Queer Studies curriculum, as well as GHAP within which he was an advocate, providing peer counseling to students worried about HIV or who had been diagnosed with the virus.
During his undergraduate tenure at Columbia, Will was inspired by the stories that he heard from Laura Pinsky, Daniel Chiarilli and others, and created the first GHAP Archive. Much of the historical summaries, collected documents, and interviews on this site are the result of Will's hard work and dedication to GHAP's history and ongoing mission.
Wayne Steward graduated from Columbia College in 1997, with a degree in psychology. He volunteered with GHAP from 1994 to 1997. He is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Ryan Kull served as the coordinator of GHAP from 1995 to 2002. He received his MSW from Columbia School of Social Work in 2000. He currently directs the Kull Initiative for Psychotherapy, and manages a private psychotherapy practice.
Peter Awn was an Islamic religion scholar and the dean of the School of General Studies for two decades. He joined the Columbia University faculty in 1978.
During his tenure as dean and across his 40+ years at Columbia, he helped integrate General Studies Studies into Columbia undergraduate student life, and expanded the school and its programs, particularly to US armed services veterans. Awn was also a consistent and fervent supporter of Columbia’s LGBTQ+ community.
Peter died in early 2018 from injuries he incurred after a car struck him on his walk home from campus. He received a posthumous Doctor of Letters degree for prestigious scholarship and societal contribution at University Commencement in May, 2019.
Paul was a graduate student at Columbia, studying Computer Science. He co-founded GHAP with Laura Pinsky in 1985 and was passionate and dedicated to the group and it's mission.
When GHAP began providing HIV testing, Paul volunteered to be part of the first group and was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Laura Pinsky remembers that the diagnosis made GHAP's mission that much more important for both of them because he was her best friend.
Paul died from complications of the disease in 1995 but his spirit lives on through the work of GHAP and published materials he contributed to, like The HIV/AIDS Fact Book.
Michael Dowling received his master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia in 1989. While never an advocate with GHAP, he was very involved in the set-up and earliest days of the group. He is currently the Chief Administrative Officer at Montefiore Medical Center.
Laura Pinsky is the co-founder and former director of GHAP. She additionally was a counselor for Counseling and Psychological Services at Columbia Health, working with students whose mental health was affected by a physical illness. When Laura started at Columbia Health in the early 80s, those infected with AIDS quickly grew to become the largest group of those she counseled. With Paul Harding-Douglas, she co-founded GHAP as a way of increasing the amount of accurate information and education available to Columbia Students regarding AIDS. Because of this, both she and Paul were made members of the Columbia University Committee on AIDS, convened in 1987. Later, she and Paul co-authored The Essential AIDS Fact Book (Pocket Books, 1987) and The Essential HIV Treatment Fact Book (Pocket Books, 1992.) She retired in 2014.
Kendall Thomas is the Nash Professor for Law at Columbia Law School as well as the co-founder and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture. He has worked at Columbia since 1984. His teaching and research interests include U.S. and comparative constitutional law, human rights, legal philosophy, feminist legal theory, Critical Race Theory and Law and Sexuality. In addition to his work for Columbia Law School, he also has a long history of involvement with ACT UP.
Gerard Ilaria received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Columbia in 1983 and 1988 respectively. While studying social work, he volunteered as an advocate with GHAP. He continued working with HIV in his professional career and currently works in the Division of Public Health of the Cornell University Hospital.
Fred Neuhouser is the Viola Manderfeld Professor of German and a Professor of Philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. He received his PhD from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1988. He volunteered as an advocate for GHAP from 1986 to 1988.
David Klotz volunteered as a GHAP advocate from 1987 to 1989, while completing the requirements for his Master’s in Public Administration from the School of International and Public Affairs. His work with HIV has continued throughout his career, and he currently works for the New York City Mayor’s Office for AIDS Policy.
Daniel Chiarilli is the current director of GHAP and has been with the group since 2005. He began volunteering with GHAP in 2000, when he was receiving his PhD in musicology. In addition to leading GHAP, he also is a counselor for the university’s smoking cessation program and an adjunct professor in the department of Music.
Bruce Francis received his master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School in 1984. He was a member of the first group of GHAP Advocates. He currently works as Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Salesforce.com.
Brian Dorsey worked at GHAP, while he was an undergraduate in Columbia College from 2001 to 2004. He later went on to become a doctor specializing in internal medicine.
Ben Ryan graduated from Columbia College in 2001 with a degree in English. He worked for GHAP for four years, from 1997 to 2001. His writing as a freelance journalist has appeared in many publications, including HIV Plus, POZ Magazine, AIDSMeds.com, and HepMag.