Tiffany Thompson, 31, took over as program director last month. Former director Katie Dunphy left the position in November.
Y-HEP provides multifaceted youth programming designed to reduce the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases by empowering youth around healthy living.
Since 2010, Thompson served as Y-HEP communications and operations supervisor, where she oversaw the agency’s basic operations and coordinated outreach to the community.
The director position is her “dream job.”
“I always admired the work the program has done. I built a relationship with the staff and when a position opened up, I quickly applied,” Thompson said.
Thompson has also worked as interim executive director for the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative and as education coordinator for Concern for Health Options: Information, Care, and Education.
She said her experiences at both organizations, which have similar goals to those of Y-HEP, will help with her new position.
“GALAEI has a young staff and so does Y-HEP. At GALAEI and CHOICE, I learned to lead the next generation of leaders,” she said. “I also worked with young people; everyone is so different and has different experiences.”
Thompson currently serves as treasurer for CHOICE and as a participant in the Brown Boi Project, a community organization to help masculine women, transmen, two-spirit people and allies to achieve racial and gender justice.
She also conducts peer mentoring for queer masculine young women to combat violence and imprisonment.
Thompson, who grew up in North Philadelphia, said she faced some of the same environments that many of the youth who participate at Y-HEP experience.
She did not initially intend to pursue a career in the HIV/AIDS field, but was inspired to provide youth with resources that she lacked access to as a young person.
“When I got [HIV/AIDS] information as a young adult, I had no idea about the epidemic. It was the lack of information that empowered me to give other people this information,” she said. “I really care about this community, especially the youth because they are my family.”
As program director, Thompson will be responsible for overseeing all of Y-HEP’s individual programs as well as the continued effort to network, build and grow the agency.
“I want to see a lot of personal development with the staff so that they can go on and do better things. I hope Y-HEP becomes an program that is more locally known and recognized,” Thompson said.
She also plans to increase the involvement of young men of color who have sex with men.
“I want to find ways to reach that population and not only get them tested but involved in the epidemic,” she said.