Getting To Know Our Members
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.
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.
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.