Lorraine Teel, Long-Time Executive Director of Minnesota AIDS Project, Announces Retirement

Jan 27, 2011, 13:00 ET from Minnesota AIDS Project

Board recognizes Teel for 20 years of accomplished leadership and service

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lorraine Teel, executive director of the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) announced today that she will retire in April 2011.

Teel has helped lead Minnesota's response to HIV for more than 20 years and leaves a legacy of accomplishments. Under her leadership, what started as a small, grassroots organization has evolved into a multi-dimensional, professionally staffed 60-person agency recognized nationally for community engagement and AIDS advocacy. As a leading HIV organization in the Upper Midwest, MAP is well connected to the communities it serves through a strong core of more than 1,000 committed volunteers.

In a letter announcing her retirement, Teel stated, "Serving as executive director for the Minnesota AIDS Project for the past 20 years has been a wonderful experience and an opportunity for which I will forever be grateful. Twenty years ago, AIDS was a diagnosis of certain death. It has been an honor to work with the MAP staff, board and volunteers to move from such depths of despair to where we are today -- working to prevent a serious, but treatable disease. Few people have had the opportunity to be part of such a transformational experience. Now it is time for me to pass the torch to new leaders who will bring fresh ideas and take this agency to new levels."

MAP board chair Patrick Troska states, "The Minnesota AIDS Project is the effective and incredible organization it is today because of Lorraine Teel's leadership. To say that Lorraine will be missed is a huge understatement.  She leaves behind an incredible legacy of strategic vision coupled with compassion. Our goal as a board is to honor that legacy and build on it as we search for the next leader to guide MAP in its next phase of service to our communities.  Lorraine's leadership leaves MAP well positioned for the future with a strong board, strong staff and sound finances."

Transition Plan

The MAP board of directors has formed a transition committee, led by board member Jennifer Thompson. The MAP board will hire an interim executive director within the next few months. The interim director will be charged with maintaining momentum and MAP's high level of service while the board conducts a search for Teel's successor. A retirement celebration for Teel is being planned for late March.

"The need for MAP leadership is greater than ever," explains board chair Troska. "HIV remains a critical public health issue. As the public's perception of AIDS has evolved from deadly diagnosis to chronic illness, a level of complacency has occurred, resulting in rising rates of infection and a pervasive lack of accurate information. From the strong organizational foundation built by Lorraine and the staff over the past two decades, MAP will continue to energize the community around AIDS prevention."

Teel's Legacy

Recognizing the devastating impact that HIV was having on the gay and bisexual men's community, Teel became a fierce advocate in the early 1990s for resources to expand HIV prevention. Teel's many accomplishments include innovative risk reduction education for at-risk populations of gay and bisexual men and injecting drug users. Today, MAP prevention programs like PrideAlive and Positive Link work to reduce infections in the gay and bisexual men's community.

Under Teel, MAP also pushed for a new federal Centers for Disease Control grant that works with young gay and bisexual men experiencing challenges due to chemical use and abuse. For those whom HIV risk was due to injecting drug use, Teel was able to not only launch a successful syringe exchange program in Minnesota; she and her staff worked to change Minnesota law to allow legal purchase and access to sterile syringes. As a result, Minnesota has one of the lowest rates in the United States of HIV in the injecting drug use (IDU) community.    

MAP programs for those living with HIV expanded greatly over the past 20 years, moving from an end-of-life focus to helping community members learn to manage and live with HIV. MAP now has a full range of support services for low-income individuals living with HIV, connecting clients to medical care and programs designed to prevent further HIV transmission.  

Teel was instrumental in starting MAP's public policy work and has been recognized at both a federal and statewide level for her efforts. Through her work and that of her staff, MAP created a statewide network of AIDS advocates. Teel led the agency through a number of public debates and legislative changes including a requirement that HIV education be mandatory for licensed alcohol and drug counselors and their clients; a law allowing permanency planning for the children of parents living with HIV; and expanding HIV prevention work within local immigrant communities.  

During her time at MAP, Teel served on a number of local and national boards including as a member of the Board of the nationally-based AIDS Action Council, co-chair of the Public Policy Committee at AIDS Action Council, co-chair of the Needs Assessment Committee for the Minnesota HIV Services Planning Council, member of the Governor's Task Force on HIV Prevention and as a founding board member of the Red Ribbon Ride.

In recognition of her work, Teel has been awarded the Brian Coyle Leadership Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the Faces of Tretter Collection award from the University of Minnesota Anderson Library and in honor of her 20 year tenure at MAP, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak proclaimed July 23, 2010 as "Lorraine Teel Day" in the City of Minneapolis.  

About Minnesota AIDS Project

The Minnesota AIDS Project works statewide to prevent the spread of HIV in Minnesota and reduce the challenge of living with HIV through programs, partnerships, and initiatives to engage every member of our community to take responsibility and care about HIV.  For more information and to find out how you can help please visit www.mnaidsproject.org.

SOURCE Minnesota AIDS Project