Dr. George Ayala signals his upcoming departure from MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights (formerly MSMGF)

MPact Board of Directors acknowledges with deep appreciation Ayala’s years of service

After over sixteen years of tireless dedication to MPact’s mission and vision, Dr. George Ayala has announced that he will be leaving his position as Executive Director on September 30th, 2020.

George has provided his reflections on his tenure as the Co-Founder & Executive Director of MPact in a message here.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Steering Committee, we would like to extend our debt of gratitude for George’s work building MPact from the ground up. His accomplishments go all the way back to the very first MSM Pre-Conference at the 2004 International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, where the idea for a global network of gay and bisexual men was first explored.

From that point on, George has been the key driver in building MPact to the influential network of experts and advocates that it is today. George’s clear-sighted vision, his steely determination, his fearless (though always polite) advocacy ‘speaking truth to power’, and his unstinting persistence and perseverance in achieving goals are outstanding qualities that have under-pinned MPact’s greatest successes.

Early on, George was responsible for creating funded partnerships with Hivos, Aidsfonds, UK DFID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Only with the support of these latter two grants were we able to open our first office and to hire our first staff back in 2009. MPact became an independently operated, legally registered non-profit organization in 2014. Since 2009, George has led an 11-year growth trajectory and three successful strategic planning processes.

These qualities enabled MPact to set about mobilizing the establishment of Regional Networks led by gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) – a sometimes fraught process across a global context. Setting this foundation in the early years of our organization was key to ensuring our impact in the various regions of the Global South. Today we are proud to partner with AGCS PLUS, AMSHeR, APCOM, CVC, ECOM, Gay Latino, and M-Coalition whom operate effectively and collegiately across all regions of the world, especially in the global south.

In terms of high-level advocacy in HIV and human rights, George and the MPact Secretariat now forthrightly engage routinely and vigorously with each of the major global HIV instrumentalities including the Global Fund, PEPFAR, UNAIDS, WHO, IAS and the UN Human Rights Council. George currently sits on the Developed Countries’ NGO Delegation of the Global Fund Board and is a former North American NGO delegate on the UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board.

Similarly, George was instrumental in establishing close links with our sister global networks. These partnerships have allowed us to extend the collective impact of our respective efforts as constituency-led organizations. We are incredibly proud of our collaborative efforts with the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), the Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE), IRGT – a global network of trans women and HIV, the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), International Civil Society Support (ICSS), Outright Action International, and the Council on Global Equality. The most recent collaborative intervention has been the devising of HIV2020: Community Reclaiming the Response, which has succeeded in challenging the International AIDS Society and the world at large to review, refresh and fundamentally re-design international conferences to enable a greatly expanded role for the communities most impacted by HIV.

Under-pinning much of George’s acumen and achievement through this whole period has been his on-going commitment to research – particularly community-based participatory action research. In 2010, George initiated the first Gay Men’s Health & Rights (GMHR) Survey, which provides an evidence-base for many issues and problems for GBMSM in the Global South. The fourth iteration of the GMHR was launched in November 2019 and closed in March of this year.  This most recent effort was successful in recruiting 15,000 participants with the help of networks such as Hornet and Grindr and was offered in 10 languages, providing a basis for analyses at the country level.  George’s commitment to research and evidence at every level has allowed him and MPact’s staff to initiate program and project designs that impress donors and funders based on solid evidence. The results can now be seen across 62 countries and championed by more than 150 GBMSM-led organisations, with which MPact is directly linked.

All the while, George has been assiduously identifying talented people for staff positions at MPact, fostering their personal development and skills, and their team interactions. In the words of one stakeholder from our recent 360 Organisational Scan “MPact has a small but mighty staff!”.

Given my parallel role as Board Co-Chair throughout this period, I am confident that all current and former members of MPact’s Board and International Steering Committee over these 16 years will all wish to thank you profoundly, George.

We wish you all the best in your future.

Don Baxter, MPact Board Chair

The MPact Board has opened a public search for MPact’s next Executive Director. The deadline for applications is October 5th, 2020.

Dr. Mohan Sundararaj will be acting as interim Executive Director until the Board has completed its search.