Alumni Help Allocate Funds for HIV Services in San Francisco
Jim Mitulski ’86
and Catherine Geanuracos ’91 stand before City Hall
in San Francisco, where their council meetings are held.
Jim Mitulski ’86 and Catherine Geanuracos
’91 serve as co-chairs of a 40-member community planning
council in San Francisco that allocates federal funding for HIV
services. The two were appointed by the mayor for a two-year term
to head up the city’s Ryan White HIV Health Service Planning
Council, which allocates $35 million to programs serving the most
needy people with HIV in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.
One of their supervisors is Matt Gonzalez ’87.
“The whole idea of community-based health planning is that
the people who are affected by the disease are the people who know
best where the resources need to be,” says Mitulski, who has
HIV. Mitulski and Geanuracos, who serve on a voluntary basis, were
chosen for their experiences serving HIV-affected and homeless communities.
Mitulski, who entered with the Class of 1980, attended divinity
school at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkley and is a Protestant
minister. For 14 years, until 2000, he served as pastor of Metropolitan
Community Church of San Francisco, the largest gay Protestant church.
There, he started a social service foundation that provides services
to people with HIV, homeless people and at-risk youth. He has been
an HIV activist, and in 1996 distributed marijuana at the church
to people with HIV in defiance of state and federal law, an action
that was instrumental in passing a state proposition to legalize
marijuana for compassionate use.
In February, Mitulski became executive director of Rainbow Adult
Community Housing, a not-for-profit that builds senior housing for
the gay and lesbian community. On weekends, he travels to Guerneville,
Calif., where he is part-time pastor of Metropolitan Community Church
“I constantly reflect on the Columbia experience,”
Mitulski says. “Study at Columbia taught me about social change
and about putting all of our resources together for public service.”
Geanuracos, who earned a master’s of social work at UC Berkeley,
worked on HIV education programs in Guatemala and Argentina and
is director of research, evaluation and technology for Larkin Street
Youth Services. Larkin Street, where she formerly headed up the
HIV services division, is a not-for-profit agency that provides
shelter, medical care and other services to the homeless aged 12–24.
“We’re a national model for youth services, especially
for HIV services,” Geanuracos says. “The people who
work here are really driven and dedicated to young people.”