La Sociedad de Mujeres Líderes (LWS) está compuesta por mujeres destacadas de todo el país que han vivido con el VIH durante 20 años o más mientras se desempeñan como agentes de cambio y defensoras en sus comunidades locales. Los miembros de LWS son elegidos por su compromiso de crear conciencia utilizando su propia experiencia para defender las pruebas de VIH accesibles, la educación preventiva, la vinculación con la atención y más investigaciones centradas en las mujeres. Cada año, SisterLove honra a 20 mujeres que han vivido con el VIH durante al menos 20 años en nuestro evento emblemático conocido simplemente como 2020.  Los homenajeados luego se convierten en miembros de la Sociedad LWS que hoy se enorgullece de una membresía de más de 200 mujeres de todos los ámbitos de la vida que tienen un deseo profundamente arraigado de erradicar el VIH. Los líderes de LWS representan una gran variedad de profesiones, incluidos especialistas en prevención del VIH, directores ejecutivos, artistas, ministros, consejeros, portavoces, amas de casa y defensores activos en Capitol Hill.


Dottie Dowdell

Dottie Dowdell has over 20 years of experience in the field of human services. She is the President of Creative Training and Development Incorporated, a company committed to building stronger organizations and communities by providing tailored training and development programs. Dottie also serves as a coach for New Jersey’s Behavioral Health Integration Project. There she assists in the development of integrated behavioral and HIV primary health care services to improve patient outcomes. 

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Additionally, Dottie’s many accomplishments include helping to draft NJ’s first Statewide Coordinated Statement of Need (2006), conducting a needs assessment on the increased rate of HIV infection among women of color in Trenton, in collaboration with the Health Incentive Program for Women, and the development of two national training programs, Building Leaders of Color (BLOC) and Growing Leadership Opportunities for Women (GLOW), for the National Minority AIDS Council and the Health Resource Services Administration.

Ruby Garner

Ruby Garner was born in Memphis Tennessee. She was raised by her grandmother, Frankie, who is responsible for the person she is today. Mrs. Frankie taught Ruby how to be humble, how to love God as well as others. Ruby eventually moved to Harlem N.Y.C, in her teens, growing up under the watchful eyes of aunts and uncles. 

However, nothing Ruby learned prepared her for her HIV+ diagnosis.  She never thought she needed to be tested until she discovered her husband had sex with both men and women. At first, Ruby considered suicide but chose to live instead.

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In time, she found a community of people just like her. They offered support, showed her how to live “positive-ly” and how to share her story to encourage testing and treatment. Today, Ruby is a certified peer health education coordinator who supports others the way she was supported as they get tested, get PrEP, stay in care, and take their meds as prescribed. 

Gena Grant

Gena has advocated for youth in Miami Florida since 2001. Today she is a peer educator/patient Advocate for the Ryan White Part D program. Gena is also the staff liaison for NIH- sponsored University of Miami Department of Pediatrics Research Community Advisory Board within the, ambassador for NMAC, and a facilitator and trainer with Growing Leadership Opportunities for Women. Her most recent accomplishments include completing NMAC’s Building Leaders of Color program which seeks to engage PLWH in leadership opportunities, and joining the Positive Women’s Network INC. as Director of Youth Services. 

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Gena started “Real Talk with Gena Grant” in August 2019 which focuses on sexual health conversations and education around key health issues impacting low income and underserved communities, including women, youth, and transwomen and men. Gena is also an active board member of Positive People Network INC. a social organization that provides social support services for people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS our motto is “There is life after the diagnosis.”

Sheila Jackson

Sheila was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1961. In 1995, at the age of 34, she was diagnosed HIV positive. It wasn’t easy to for her, but she prevailed in her struggle. Today, Sheila is affiliated with Williams Associations. She helps out with testing, educating the community and sharing her story to encourage others that there is life after an HIV diagnosis. 

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 In her spare time Sheila enjoys spending time with her adopted niece and nephew. She also enjoys writing children stories.

LeSherri James

LeSherri James was born in 1982, in Chicago, Illinois.  In 2000, her life changed drastically when, at 18 years old and in college, she found she was living with HIV. Two years later LeSherri became pregnant with her first child. From that moment on she wanted to be healthy for her child and herself. So, she attended any HIV training she was invited to so that she could learn and pass on the knowledge women like her needed to help prevent the spread of HIV.

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 LeSherri was really encouraged by her experiences and when she got the chance began working with community organizations. Her advocacy career began at Cook County Hospital of Chicago.  From there, LeSherri went on to work with Rush University Hospital of Chicago and Howard Brown Health Center. She says, “I am happy to serve my community.  In Chicago, thousands of women are diagnosed a year I cannot stand by and watch this go on without doing my part to help.

Deirdre Johnson-Speaks

Since 2000, Deirdre has lived, learned and experienced HIV on her own terms. She utilizes her sense of humor and lively personality to openly share her medicine and medical adherence journey with the world using #MedsWillMakeMeDance. Deirdre is transparent about how she is not allowing HIV to have control of her, but fearlessly taking control of HIV.

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Deirdre is native of Virginia, and has worked as an educator, case manager, and speaker, however, she is most passionate about eradicating stigma, ending criminalization of people living with HIV, combating racial injustice, health disparities, and being an active Partner in Change.

Antoinette Jones

Antoinette joined SisterLove, Inc. in April of 2018 as a Peer Navigator facilitating access to preventative care and treatment for people living with and at risk for HIV. Working at SisterLove and many other non-profit organizations, Antoinette developed her advocacy skills in Racial, Reproductive, and Social Justice.


She strives to educate folks on the intersections of HIV and Reproductive Justice, the injustices black women encounter, as well as empower people to take charge of their Sexual Health. Her advocacy work focuses on challenging cultural stigmas around HIV and using creative expression to share her story and inspire others to do the same.

L’Orangelis Thomas Negron

L’Orangelis was born HIV positive, and has worked to heal and become an HIV and sexual and reproductive rights activist. She was born and still lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is Afro-Caribbean and half Dominican. L’Orangelis is a queer trans-feminist blogger, wannabe Bruja, artisan and community educator, and part of many of the people living with HIV networks. She is the co-founder of Pangea PR, a safe space for young people living with HIV. Every month she facilitates a New Moon Menstrual Cycle for people who menstruate.

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She says, “I keep changing, transforming and exploring new stages in my life, also protecting my sovereignty over my positive body and sexual pleasure, empowering those around me to live together a free life.”  L’Orangelis is part of El Hangar en Santurce a queer safe space where they do political work through education, culture and art.

Francesca R. Schumann

Francesca is from Titusville, Florida. She currently resides in Columbus, Ohio. She is a post-op transwoman living with HIV at the undetectable level. Francesca serves on the Ryan White Part A Greater Columbus area team. She is the first woman/ transwoman to hold a co-chair position dedicated to consumer care and was also the first transwoman to hold a chair position dedicated exclusion to consumer concerns.

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Francesca hopes to continue her educational pursuits in 2021, returning to college to obtain 2 master’s degrees in social work and political science. Her goals are to develop safe spaces and housing for trans women and men living with HIV. That housing can be transitional or stable depending upon one’s choice. Francesca says, “My focus is always to reduce stigma, racism, and bigotry, offering opportunities to overcome societal and self-imposed barriers limiting our success as women and individuals living with HIV.”

Alecia Tramel-McIntyre

Alecia is founder of Positive People Network, Inc., a social organization for people living with HIV. The organization’s slogan is “There Is Life After Diagnosis, Live it “.  Alecia has been positive for 20 years and an advocate for as long. She is also a board member of ICWNA, a national women’s leadership organization.


 Alecia is the Florida State Lead for Positive Women’s Network, a board member for The Women’s March Miami, and a host of other opportunities that allow her to advocate for women and all people living with HIV/AIDS. Alicia fights discrimination and stigma in order to ensure a greater quality of life for women living with HIV. She is honored to join a group of outstanding women who show up to be included for our causes and needs. 

Miriam Whitehead

In 2000, Miriam found out that she was HIV positive. Currently, her husband and three children are HIV negative. She says, “To me, HIV means His Internal Vision and AIDS stands for And I Don’t Surrender to stigma and judgments.”   

Miriam is an author, former HIV spokesmodel for Maryland, motivational speaker, poet, and playwright. During these 20 years, she has developed new knowledge of her self-worth. It’s balanced in faith.

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She says, “I keep changing, transforming and exploring new stages in my life, also protecting my sovereignty over my positive body and sexual pleasure, empowering those around me to live together a free life.”  L’Orangelis is part of El Hangar en Santurce a queer safe space where they do political work through education, culture and art.


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Pandora Singleton vino a esta Tierra para convertirse en muchas cosas para muchas personas: hija, esposa, madre, líder, fundadora, visionaria y ALIADA. Pandora fue la defensora y guerrera más feroz y apasionada de las mujeres que viven con el VIH. Ella fue más allá del servicio para convertirse en una mejor amiga, una gran mentora, una figura madre-hermana y una luchadora intrépida por los derechos humanos de las mujeres. También luchó por los derechos de todas las personas que viven con el VIH, especialmente los hombres homosexuales, bisexuales y transgénero de color. Pandora fue la fundadora / directora del Proyecto Azuka en Savannah, GA. Fue miembro fundadora del Colectivo Nacional de Justicia Reproductiva SisterSong. Se desempeñó como Copresidenta del Grupo de Planificación Comunitaria de GA y fue miembro de la Junta del Consejo Nacional de Minorías sobre el SIDA. Pandora literalmente dio su vida luchando por tantos otros. Honramos su historia con este premio mientras mostramos nuestra gratitud por otra aliada que es una mujer líder, que no vive con el VIH y ha sido una aliada invaluable durante más de 20 años para las mujeres líderes que viven con el VIH.  

Valerie Rochester

Vicepresidente de AIDS United 

Valerie L. Rochester ha utilizado sus 25 años de experiencia como arquitecta líder en bienestar para brindar servicios de soporte técnico, administrativo y programático en el campo de la salud pública. Originaria de Indianápolis, estuvo expuesta al servicio público a una edad temprana. Su pasión por la salud y el bienestar de otras personas la ha guiado tanto profesional como personalmente, inculcando en ella el impulso de ser un disruptor decidido para lograr el cambio. Ella vive según su cita favorita de Muhammad Ali: "El servicio a los demás es el alquiler que pagamos por nuestra habitación en esta tierra" y su lema en la vida es ¡Haz historia ahora!  

Antes de unirse a AIDS United, Valerie fue Directora de Programas y Capacitación con Black Women's Health Imperative, donde dirigió las respuestas programáticas nacionales de la organización para abordar las inequidades en salud basadas en la raza y el género; gestionar una amplia cartera de iniciativas de salud que abordan los problemas de salud prioritarios del cáncer de mama y de cuello uterino, el VIH / ITS, la obesidad y la prevención de enfermedades crónicas. Como estratega de salud, Valerie reconoce la importancia de involucrar y movilizar a las comunidades para ayudar a lograr mejores resultados de salud y ha aplicado estos enfoques a su trabajo con agencias locales, federales, nacionales y estatales. También se ha desempeñado en la junta directiva de numerosas organizaciones nacionales y comunitarias, incluida su mandato actual como miembro de la junta del National Minority AIDS Council, donde ocupa el cargo de Tesorera. Debido a su compromiso de abordar las desigualdades en la salud en las comunidades de color, Valerie recibió el Premio al Héroe del Cuidado de la Salud del Caucus Negro del Congreso en 2002 en el Braintrust de Salud del Caucus Negro del Congreso anual, que le presentó la excongresista Donna Christensen.  

En otra nota, la mayoría de la gente nunca sabría que Valerie es una fanática de los deportes y del terror clásico, con un poco de cultura pop. Sus intereses son una mezcla de boxeo, películas de Alfred Hitchcock y moda. Cuando no está comprando zapatos o bolsos, le gusta correr, leer novelas de Stephen King y pasar tiempo con amigos aprendiendo a bailar a mano. Se describe a sí misma como una "fanática del café" a la que le gusta viajar a lugares inusuales, descubrir diferentes artistas de R&B y hip-hop y aprender todas las letras de sus canciones.


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SisterLove ha mantenido su compromiso con la misión de lograr la plena justicia sexual y reproductiva como un medio para acabar con el VIH en nuestras comunidades. No podríamos haber hecho esto durante más de 31 años sin la fuerza y el apoyo de decenas de socios, colaboradores y patrocinadores. Este año, estamos agregando un premio a los Premios e Instituto de la Sociedad de Mujeres Líderes 2020: Presentamos el Premio Absolute Love Community Partner. Este reconocimiento especial es nuestra nota de amor para un socio de la comunidad que ha demostrado y compartido un apoyo dedicado a las mujeres que viven con el VIH en nuestros programas, así como a la LWS 2020, durante al menos 20 años.

Las Armorettes


Los Armorettes son una organización legendaria de arrastre de campamentos que ha existido durante más de 41 años y contando. Han recaudado más de 2,20 millones de dólares en el período de 41 años, un dólar a la vez. El homónimo de los Armorettes proviene de donde comenzaron y comenzó su historia, en el Armory Bar en Atlanta, GA. Los Armorettes originales eran Thelma, Julie Garden, Justa Tish, Kitty Carlisle, Ginny Tonic y Liz Helen. Estos seis originales dieron un paso adelante para la comunidad durante una época muy oscura a finales de los 70 y principios de los 80, cuando la epidemia del VIH se estaba volviendo cada vez más desenfrenada y fuera de control. Decidieron que ya era suficiente y que si nadie iba a ayudar a su comunidad, darían un paso al frente y lo harían.  

Entonces, decidieron montar espectáculos de drag en el Armory en Atlanta, GA, para recaudar dinero para sus amigos que estaban enfermos y muriendo de VIH. Cada dólar que ganaban, inmediatamente lo daban vuelta y lo utilizaban distribuyendo el dinero entre los necesitados. Los Armorettes siempre han dado un paso al frente y han hecho lo correcto y, lo que es más importante, lo que se necesitaba para la comunidad y continuarán haciéndolo hasta que se encuentre una cura.