• THRIVE SS Board of Directors

    Serving in Excellence

    Ernest Walker

    Board Chair

    Ernest Walker is the Director of the SoCal Club, Los Angeles for Men’s Health Foundation. Ernest has over a decade of accomplishments addressing the health and social needs of people impacted by HIV/AIDS. He started his public health/human services career in Seattle as Program Coordinator of People of Color Against AIDS Network and Manager of Prevention Programs at Minority AIDS Project in Los Angeles. From 2003 through 2017, Ernest worked in various capacities at Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc in the Washington, D.C., including serving as Director of Programs and Chief Operating Officer. Most recently, Ernest served as Co-Executive Director of Lost-N-Found Youth, an Atlanta-based community based organization focused on addressing the needs of homeless you, and Interim Executive Director of NAESM, INC., another Atlanta-based organization addressing the health and wellness issues confronted by Black gay men through advocacy, services, and education. Ernest holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University of Washington and a Master of Public Health at Catholic University.

    Lamont Scales

    Vice Chair

    Primarily, Mr. Lamont Scales serves as a Public Health Analyst in the Office of Health Equity, Office of the Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Scales is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the Division’s activities related to reducing health inequities among men who have sex with men.

    Mr. Scales has extensive experience and training in local and national efforts to reduce health disparities among racial, sexual, and gender minorities; including program management, organization and project coordination, communication and facilitation, research and program implementation, and professional counseling.

    Carlos Rivera


    Carlos Rivera brings more than 20 years of external and internal audit experience to his role on the Board of Directors. His background includes auditing in the beverage manufacturing, healthcare, healthcare manufacturing, and financial services industries. Carlos is currently an AVP for Synchrony, an international credit card processing company, and performs SOX 404 Testing to ensure controls surrounding financial reporting are effectively working. Carlos has also performed financial and operational audits for Coca-Cola Enterprises, CompuCredit Corporation, and Alere Inc. His background also includes serving as a board member for GAY-SHA, an Atlanta networking group for black gay men. Carlos is a CPA, earned a B.S. in B.A. with an Accounting concentration from the University of South Carolina-Aiken, and earned a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Virginia.

    Neena Smith-Bankhead


    For more than 28 years, Neena has served in numerous roles in public health, ranging from direct services to research to her current role providing capacity building services and grant making. Neena has focused the majority of her career on helping to reduce the number of new HIV and supporting access to quality care for people living with HIV, particularly within black and brown communities, among women, and within LGBTQ+ communities. Neena spent 18 years leading HIV prevention, education, volunteer, and research activities at AID Atlanta, Inc., and served as a consultant to local and national organizations, including capacity-building providers, healthcare systems, and state and federal service providers. Neena has served on the Board of Directors of 3 local Atlanta-based non-profit organizations, and currently works at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and serves on the advisory board and as a part-time instructor in the Healthcare Management Program at Clayton State University.
    In Neena’s spare time, she enjoys vacationing with her husband and son, watching movies, listening to music, writing, and volunteering in her community with local organizations including the Lupus Foundation of Georgia and is a member of the Women of Clayton County.

    Jerome Hoskins

    Jerome Hoskins is a highly energetic learning and development professional with an established background of more than 12 years designing and delivering learning and performance solutions across various industries. Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Jerome spent his early years in North Carolina where he remained until adulthood. In 2013 he uprooted his life again and relocated to Atlanta where he currently resides. Jerome’s understanding and deep connection to communities of color has allowed him to advocate on behalf of those greatly impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This understanding combined with his professional background drives Jerome’s commitment to building the skills and capacity of individuals and organizations that serve and support persons living with HIV.

    As the Chair of the Board of Directors for Transforming HIV Resentment Into Victories Everlasting Support Services (THRIVE SS) from 2016 - 2019, Jerome began his tenure in the public health and human services ecosystems by providing mentoring, leadership development, curriculum development, program delivery, and peer support to over 900 members of the THRIVE SS network in the metro Atlanta area. Additionally a master trainer, Jerome has facilitated training programs such as the Building Leaders of Color (BLOC) Program for the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), Building Leadership Bootcamp for the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), as well as Trauma Informed Care for People Living With HIV Curriculum for the National Center for Trauma Informed Care (SAMHSA - NCTIC).

    In his down time (yes it exists), Jerome loves to spend time with his 12 pound puppy Charlie – who is half Terrier and half terror. He also loves trying new foods and traveling to fun places; he has even found the time to join Toastmasters to enhance his public speaking and leadership skills.

    Jon Gabriel Ortiz

    Jon Gabriel Ortiz is a New York native that has been living in Atlanta since 2004. Jon began his involvement in HIV work in 1988 after his mother passed away of AIDS-related complications. Jon, himself, has been living with HIV since 2000. In 2012, Jon earned a degree in fine arts concentrating on Graphic Design which his uses to support various HIV initiatives in ATL. Jon Gabriel currently divides his time building his graphic design business, JGO Graphix and working closely with THRIVE SS and Impulse Group Atlanta.

    Nathan Townsend

    Nathan Townsend is a singer, songwriter, motivational speaker, creative director, and social advocate based in Fulton County, Georgia. He has been involved with HIV advocacy since 2005 and works with THRIVE SS to support people living with HIV, using art and music to tell his story and combat the stigma people living with HIV experience.

    Damion Evans

    Born in Kingston Jamaica to English parents; Damion S Evans is an American trained attorney and business man. An avid traveler, Damion is committed to the eradication of the HIV Aids epidemic across the globe. A father of one, Damion believes that “together everyone achieves more helping other people endure.”

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