Getting To Know Our Members

 
Melanie Reese

Melanie Reese

Executive Director

Melanie Reese is an African American older woman thriving with HIV for twenty years. She is the Executive Director of Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL). Melanie served fourteen years as a member of The Greater Baltimore HIV Health Services Planning Council in various leadership capacities, where she spent her last two years as Planning Council Chair. She serves on The HIV Prevention Group for the Maryland Department of Health and also Baltimore City Department of Health HIV/AIDS Commission and HIV Prevention Group for over five years each. Ms. Reese is an active member of Johns Hopkins Institute of Clinical and Translational Research Community Research Advisory Council and serves on several clinical trial and research studies community/stakeholder advisory boards.

 
Marilyn N. Burnett, BS

Marilyn N. Burnett, BS

executive director emeritus and co-founder

Ms. Burnett is an advocate for older people living with HIV/AIDS and for those individuals striving to overcome the dis-ease of addiction. Marilyn has represented OWEL at events and outreach activities at agencies statewide and regionally. Ms. Burnett, who has been living with the challenge of HIV for 28 years, has been featured in many videos and articles that address the difficulties faced by women living with HIV/AIDS. She is featured in the bestselling author Iris Krasnow’s book, “Sex After…Women Share How Intimacy Changes as Life Changes,” published in 2014.  In 2011, Ms. Burnett was featured as the only woman in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Special Issue of Aging with HIV. In 2000, she appeared in a video entitled “Sisters Alive,” a project that focused on six African-American women living with the challenge of HIV/AIDS. In 2007, she and the other women produced “Sisters Alive: The Sequel.” She has also been featured on an episode of Healthline, a program of Retirement Living TV and featured in several newspaper articles speaking about the graying of HIV as a chronic disease.

Board Members

Dorcas C. Baker RN, BSN, ACRN, MA

Dorcas C. Baker RN, BSN, ACRN, MA

Chair woman and founder

Dorcas Baker is a registered nurse of 44 years, and currently employed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, REACH Initiative as the JHU Regional Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic AIDS Education and Training Center (MAETC). Dorcas coordinated the first CME approved “HIV Over  Fifty” Conference at Johns Hopkins University in 2002, which became an Annual Conference starting in 2005. She has given numerous presentations, workshops, and seminars on HIV/AIDS in Older Adults in various healthcare and community settings. She has served as a member of the Greater Baltimore HIV Planning Council and is the Co-founder of Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL), a support group for women over the age of 50, living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Stephanie Brooks-Wiggins

Stephanie Brooks-Wiggins

Treasurer and co-founder

Stephanie has worked in the field of HIV for over 30+ years. First, as a volunteer for HERO, then as Editor of a newsletter for People Living With HIV/AIDS through the PWA Coalition during the early 1990’s. She has served as President of the PWA/HIV Coalition, the Planning Council for the EMA of Maryland and as a consumer advocate and spokesperson in the HIV Community. Stephanie co-founded OWEL, Older Women Embracing Life.  Currently, she is the Co-Chair of the Baltimore City Health Planning Commission which oversees HIV/AIDS prevention programs in Baltimore. A commissioner appointed by the Mayor on the Commission for Aging through the Baltimore City Department of Aging and Care.

 
Joan Mogul Garrity

Joan Mogul Garrity

Secretary

Joan Garrity has been providing HIV trainings to professionals since the mid-1980s, continuing her work as a counselor and a trainer of counselors since the 70s. In the early 90s, she was the primary author of the CDC’s national curriculum for the training of HIV prevention counseling, along with five follow-on curricula. She is also the primary author of “Sexual Health in Recovery; Implementation Manual” developed for the Maryland State Department of Health, and funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA.) In addition, she is a co-founder and former board member of the Sexuality and Aging Consortium of Widener University.  Joan is a currently the Secretary for the Board of Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL).

 
Robbin Alexander

Robbin Alexander

Meeting facilitator/event coordinator

Robbin Alexander currently works at Sinai Hospital as a HIV/AIDS Community Outreach Worker/Service advocate in the Park Heights Community and other locations. Ms. Alexander is the Group Facilitator Of OWEL (Older Women Embracing Life), Member of Baltimore City HIV Planning Committee and on various committees through out the city of Baltimore. Robbin does HIV/AIDS prevention education in various schools in the community, prevention presentations in local health facilities, and youth centers throughout the city.

Ingrid McDowell, MPH

Ingrid McDowell, MPH

Intern preceptor/volunteer coordinator

Ingrid McDowell, is the Community Public Health Training Coordinator for the Mid Atlantic AIDS Education and Training Center at Johns Hopkins University AETC under the REACH Initiative.  As Training Coordinator she facilitates and delivers provider and community partner training on HIV treatment, prevention and other HIV related issues in the state of Maryland and in Baltimore City. Ms. McDowell is also the Director of Invisions Consulting and has over 18 years of management and consulting experience in HIV. Her areas of expertise include: Public health for diverse populations, Health beyond illness, Grant writing, Capacity building and Non-profit fund development.

 
Patrice Henry

Patrice Henry

board member

Patrice Henry has worked with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Infectious Disease Department since January 2000. She is a Senior Community Program Coordinator and the Lead Patient Navigator for the Bartlett Specialty Clinic (formerly the Moore Clinic). At Bartlett she counsels patients with a new HIV diagnosis and patients who are new to the practice. Patrice is an integral member of the Project LINK (multidisciplinary adherence/education/support program) team, where she counsels her own Project LINK patient panel of approximately 80-100 patients. She runs the Project LINK support group as well as the Patient Advisory Council. Patrice has also been a Spokesmodel for the “HIV Stops With Me” campaign. She has been an inspiration over the years to several thousand patients who have been diagnosed with HIV and are living positively with HIV.