EXCLUSIVE: GMHC Ousts Marjorie Hill After Seven Years - Gay City News | Gay City News

EXCLUSIVE: GMHC Ousts Marjorie Hill After Seven Years

Edie Windsor, Harry Belafonte and Earl Fowlkes lead Gay Pride 2013 NYC

Dr. Marjorie Hill marching in the 2013 LGBT Pride Parade in Manhattan. | DONNA ACETO

BY SAM SPOKONY | Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the nation’s oldest non-profit organization dedicated to ending the HIV/ AIDS epidemic and supporting those affected by it, announced on September 13 that its CEO for the past seven years, Dr. Marjorie Hill, will step down at the end of this month.

Contrary to a press release stating that Hill’s departure was a mutual decision between her and GMHC’s 25-member board of directors, sources within the organization told this newspaper that Hill was, in fact, fired by the board.

“Hill was completely blindsided by the firing, since she believed that she had solid core support on the board,” said a source, who asked to remain anonymous due to professional concerns, via email on September 15, adding that the ouster was initially orchestrated about six months ago by board chair Myron Sulzberger Rolfe and his board colleague Manuel Rivera.

Despite release citing amicable parting, sources confirm departure was orchestrated by leaders of the board

Rivera is also chair of GMHC’s Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), a group that advocates for the organization’s clients and is made up of clients, staff, volunteers, and community partners.

Many of those connected to GMHC have said that Hill’s relationships with staff and clients have become extremely contentious.

“It’s been a rough tenure, especially over the past year, and the clients just feel like [Hill] hasn’t been responsive to their needs, even though she does plenty of fundraising,” said Joseph Sellman, another member of the CAB. “A lot of us could tell that this was in the works.”

Myron Gold, a CAB member and a client for the past 20 years, said that the damaged relationship was most clearly expressed at a July 23 mayoral candidate forum held at GMHC. When candidate Bill Thompson said during the forum that, if elected, he would put Hill on the city’s AIDS advisory board, the mention of her name drew loud boos throughout the room.

“I’ll never forget that, because the candidates were so stunned and it was just such an embarrassment,” Gold said. “On top of that, a lot of board members were there, so it really looked bad.”

Rivera declined to comment on the issue, instead referring the reporter to Rolfe, who acts as spokesperson for the board of directors.

Rolfe denied that the board fired Hill during a September 16 phone interview that was closely supervised by a senior manager at GMHC.

However, Rolfe did acknowledge that he received a letter earlier this year from a group of GMHC staff members, which declared that the staff had “lost confidence” in the leadership of Hill and chief operating officer Janet Weinberg.

The reporter learned through a source outside the board that Rolfe, Rivera, and the rest of the board had to sign a non-disclosure contract as a result of an agreement that bound them to secrecy about the events of the firing in exchange for Hill’s quiet departure.

A second GMHC source confirmed every detail provided by the first source.

According to the sources, another stipulation of that agreement allowed Weinberg to avoid being fired as well, and she is currently serving as interim CEO until the board decides on a new hire for the leadership position.

Hill, who is African American, threatened to sue the board — which is mostly comprised of white males — for racial discrimination once it was clear she would be fired, according to the sources.

Hill could not be reached for comment on that, because she is currently out of the country on a sabbatical that began on July 1 and which will continue until the end of her tenure on September 29.

Before becoming the CEO of GMHC in 2006, Hill served as the organization’s managing director for community health.

She also previously served as assistant commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS at the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Hill first became a high profile leader in the LGBT community when she served as Mayor David Dinkins’ gay liaison two decades ago.

In October 2012, Hill was appointed chair of the New York State AIDS Advisory Council by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Weinberg lauded Hill’s seven years as CEO of GMHC.

“In the world of HIV/ AIDS, she’s renowned,” Weinberg said. “I think she’s raised the issue for black people in this epidemic and really set a precedent for making sure that HIV services were all-inclusive, regardless of race, sexual orientation, mental health, and substance use issues.”

One of the most significant changes made by Hill during her tenure was the decision, in 2010, to move GMHC from its longtime home at 119 West 24th Street to new offices at 450 West 33rd Street, after the rent was raised significantly.

The result of that move was unpopular among some AIDS activists, including GMHC co-founder Larry Kramer, mainly because of restrictions placed on the organization within the new location, such as the inability to provide medical services on-site.

35 Responses to EXCLUSIVE: GMHC Ousts Marjorie Hill After Seven Years

  1. travelgirl September 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Wow!!! What a scoop!!

  2. guest September 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    This makes me sad. The HIV/AIDS community tends to eat its own all too often. I'm sure that Dr. Hill made mistakes but the HIV "activists," those who attend all the CAB meetings, the HIV Planning Council meetings, all the committee meetings seem to go to these things for two reasons: free food and to hear themselves talk. I know they have been angry at Dr. Hill since the move, but I blame the board for that. The organization spent millions renovating their prior space even though it was a rented space. The board never mounted a capital campaign to buy the building, so they had to find space to move in a crisis. Then, the clients were upset because they got their own elevator, but think of how mad they would be if they had to take the same elevator as all the other employees in the whole building? So many of these clients don't remember the days when we had to fight to get food, medical assistance, rent assistance. Those fights aren't over, but clients are too busy fighting about crap like which elevator they have to use to focus on the real issues.

    • joe stone September 20, 2013 at 3:07 am

      Blame then bash the clients. How sad. And those HIV activists bodies keep these high paid HIV "executives" living in high sky in luscious offices of former CEO's of real companies. Marjorie Hill was just a terrible choice to lead any HIV organization, much less one that was a large as GMHC. The clients did not make that choice, but they had to suffer under it.

  3. guest September 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    there is SO much more involved here than real estate and elevators…

  4. Anonymous September 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    The move, along with the changes at GMHC have basically taken the GM out of the name. I find it sad that her fist reaction is to sue for racial discrimination. This kind of myopic view will only hurt other African-American and women candidates.

  5. Dot Beech September 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    This firing is long over due. Marjorie HIll has been a disaster for GMHC. She comes from the Dinkins Administration and the NYC Health Department. At every bump in the road, she protected her political contacts and put her own career ahead of the needs of GMHC’s clients. Janet Weinberg is no better. They provide no leadership whatsoever and are ill-prepared to do so. By training, Hill is a psychologist and Weinberg an occupational therapist. Neither is really prepared for these jobs and one must wonder why the members of the Board of Directors would hire either of them. It will take many years to repair the damage these women have done to the agency.

    Gay City News should now investigate the large Wage/Hour claim brought against GHMC by its HIV+ employees and quietly settled earlier this year.

    • Guest September 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Absolutely. She was a political hack and a lousy HIV commissioner when she worked for the City. She constantly put women ahead of gay men when the latter constitute the group most affected by HIV/AIDS in NYC.

  6. JAB West Coast September 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    The times they are a'changing–but losing people who have stood in there through thick and thin is truly sad. We are stronger when we stick together, not hang others out to dry.

  7. Mark McLaurin September 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    This is shameful ! As a longtime supporter and former employee of GMHC and a long time admirer of Dr. Hill, she deserved better ! I guess it is true- the gay white boys have come to take their organization back ! Congratulations ! Keep your head up, Marjorie !

    • Guest September 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      Nonsense. It was long overdue for GMHC to fire this political hack. The last two CEOs of an organization called Gay Men's Health Crisis were lesbians. WTF? Can you imagine the outcry if an organization devoted to say, breast cancer, was run by men? Perhaps GNHC will now get back to its mission and hire a gay man – preferably African American .

    • David Asset March 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Perhaps, the "white boys" have come back to see to that their Private Contributions are being directed to the demographics to which they contributed. The nerve of some contributors insisting that their restricted grants be used according to the restrictions they place upon them.

  8. Pingback: GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill Fired by Organization’s Board

  9. Pingback: GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill Fired by Organization’s Board | Bulgebull.com Blog

  10. Guest September 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    DNAinfo adds:

    The executive's problems at GMHC, which provides health and social services to HIV-positive people and organizes the city's annual AIDS Walk, began to come to a head in July, when staff learned Hill would take a paid three-month sabbatical — just one week after many staffers had their salaries slashed, sources said.

  11. Pingback: GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill Fired by Organization’s Board | GAYPORTALBLOG

  12. Barton September 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    What took them so long?

  13. cleomanago1 September 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    People among White folks are strategic and vigilant. If Black folks used those traits [which all people possess] we too would have orgs established like GMHC, instead of being hired and fired by them. What took them so long is their strategy for hiring Hill is no longer necessary. She was an eager, well paid token. I predicted one day it would go down just like this. We will see how much difference it makes that she's gone, if we look. We won't. Next?

  14. cleomanago1 September 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    "Hill, who is African American, threatened to sue the board — which is mostly comprised of white males — for racial discrimination once it was clear she would be fired, according to the sources." We have or had the tragic Mulatto. Now we have the tragic Token, even in the White House..

    • ale September 20, 2013 at 8:01 am

      It that really necessary? If Ms Hill was or was not fired, she has the right to explore her options legally and it should not matter what her race is. Perhaps you should research Ms Hill's education and work history before you make such a biased and shortsighted comment

  15. joe stone September 20, 2013 at 2:45 am

    The fact is she is black, but also wrong. it hurts legitimate claims of racism, when such is used just to try and defend an incompetent like Marjorie Hill. The salary is a point, but not the point, which is, the woman totally screwed up one of the best and most needed social service agencies in the city. She treated its clients, most of whom by the way, are Black and Latino like crap, and caring staff people were demoralized and short changed by this high flying egomaniac. She was fired? Good!!! What took the Board of Directors so long?

    • Fmr Staffer January 28, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Amen. As a person of color who was involved with GMHC for over 10 years during the Hill years (volunteer & employee), her modus operandi, her condescension towards clients regardless of background, and micro-management of dedicated employees made her persona non grata. Her termination should've occurred years ago. Good riddance.

  16. Pingback: GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill Fired by Organization's Board | Safe Schools | Desert Cities

  17. @JMAndriote September 20, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I know Dr. Hill only from having interviewed her in 2010 for the revised second edition of my book Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America (www.victorydeferred.com). Of course I've also read about her in the news, too.

    That is to say, I don't know Dr. Hill except as a spokesperson for GMHC, as the organization's leader who had to implement the move from W. 24th to W. 33d Street. She faced tremendous criticism, from some clients–likely the people now boo-ing her–and from GMHC co-founder Larry Kramer. But she took the action that was deemed best for GMHC's continuation. Dr. Hill struck me as bold, most certainly eloquent, and a strong leader. I can't speak to her day-to-day management style.

    I was dismayed and a bit appalled, frankly, to read about GMHC's "mostly all white male" board–period. Being white and male still confer privilege in this society–something we white gay men frequently forget where, for example, it comes to their understanding that not all gay men are white. That an all white male group looks to have "ganged up on" a black woman surely doesn't look good, to say the least. Should Dr. Hill choose to file a racial discrimination complaint, I'll bet the mostly all white male board won't strengthen GMHC's defense.

    It's unfortunate the mud is being slung against Dr. Hill. Thus it always has been when a longtime leader of an LGBT community group has been ousted from the organization. It seems to be the way that people who are uncomfortable with authority figures resort to breaking off fingers and limbs once the heroic statue has been toppled.

    It's truly unfortunate that when a lesbian or gay man who has served long and worked hard is as it were expelled from the family. Our community, like the most vengeful right-wingers, can't leave matters at "professional differences led to her departure," but insist on some kind of public shaming.

    That is truly a shame.

  18. Former Insider September 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    As a former GMHC employee I concur with the article. Hill and Weinberg are dreadful leaders. They are insecure, resistant to change and innovation and has basically taken liberties with the fine legacy that Mr. Kramer and friends took so long to build. Bravo to Manny and Mickey for FINALLY standing up for what is right. Hill and Weinberg are a poor example for the LGBT community.

  19. Glowing September 20, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I'm very sad that this has resulting like this.

  20. Wolfgang Busch September 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Finally after all these years people come forward to share the truth and are talking about the scams by GMHC the community has been talking about for a decade, public officials, lgbt leaders and many org's knew about it for years and they all turned a blind eye. With all the scams that have been revealed in the news about GMHC lately, not ONE word yet about the abuse and marginalizing policies by GMHC and their Club 1319 youth program yet, that includes the Latex Ball. They cut food money for their clients for prize money for the Latex Ball, its a disgrace. The nerve of COO Janet Weinberg to call for a meeting to talk about the new leadership at GMHC, the ballroom community did not receive an invitation nor have we received an apology from her or GMHC, Weinberg is corrupted and didn't speak up then and she got to go. Somebody from the GMHC board please give her a pink slip also for all the lies and miss-representations. Lets keep it real and pass Weinberg the pink slip. For more GMHC scandals about their Club 1319 youth program and the Latex Ball, please go to http://gmhcitsachop.blogspot.com/

  21. Wolfgang Busch September 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Hello Sam, is possible to write about the scam by GMHC and the Club 1319 youth program and how GMHC is abusing and marginalizing the Ballroom community? thank you
    Wolfgang Busch

  22. Wolfgang Busch September 28, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the still untold abusive story about the Ballroom community.

    Marginalized Community Voices,
    a Satire from the Ballroom community, known for their trend setting talents in fashion, music, dance and runway and the originators of the voguing dance.

    This Satire is about the Latex Ball and the marginalizing and abusive Club 1319 youth program, funded by the Gay Men's Health Crisis. GMHC continues to cut into the Ballroom economy by millions of dollars, manipulates the natural artistic progression by giving free balls, voguing classes, Ki Ki functions and is spending hundreds of thousands of AIDS money a year for these artistic programs. GMHC also violated a 20 year old Ballroom policy and they refuse to meet again with the historians and activists who have been sharing their concerns with GMHC staff, public officials, the media, not for profits, "leaders" in the community, and the public. All are turning a blind eye.

    When Mr. Busch contacted Lambda Legal for help, because that is what they get “public” funding for, he got the usual run around from Micah Wood and Stefan Johnson.

    “Thank you for contacting Lambda Legal for information and resources in
    connection with your matter. Please understand that this communication
    does not create an attorney-client relationship, and we cannot provide you
    with specific legal advice or guidance. I have included the contact
    information for local attorneys as well as the Manhattan weekly Walk-In

    Here is a responds from an actual attorney: Dear Mr. Busch: I appreciate the support you provide to your community. I am not available for this project. I have provided volunteer services and financial support to GMHC and I do not want to be in an adversary position to that organization. Very truly yours, Patrick Barth.

    His responds doesn’t match with the Lambda Legal officials at all, hmmmmmmmm.

    The correspondence with Lambda Legal ended with:
    Hello Wolfgang,
    I have no other attorneys to provide you with. I did check in with our Help Desk attorney to see if he had further suggestions. He said that if you or your organization have no copyright or patent (or whatever the intellectual property mechanism is), then you have no legal basis to complain. The legal system does not allow for lawsuits to be pressed against organizations or businesses because an entity disagrees with its business practices. He suggested the possibility of sitting down with GMHC and discussing the effects their intrusion has had on the ball community.

    If you have further or questions or concerns about the information above, please contact our Help Desk attorney here:

    Stefan Johnson
    Help Desk Staff Attorney
    Lambda Legal

    They actually came up with an excuse to brush off the community, GREAT JOB LAMBDA LEGAL. The community can always count on you?

    Mr. Busch did contact the Help Desk again and did not even get a reply". Shame on you Lambda Legal, for supporting GMHC and their marginalizing and abusive youth programs.

    Because the ballroom community is a marginalized, disenfranchised and under-resourced community, nobody looks at the Ballroom community as a threat to their careers, including Lambda Legal, GMHC board members Myron Sulzberger Rolfe, Demetre Daskalakis, Manny Rivera and GMHC staff Janet Weinberg, Krishna Stone, Dirk McCall, Luna Ortiz and Ivan Monforte. They don't feel any responsibility or need to help the Ballroom community; instead they created the marginalizing policies and support the abuse for personal financial gain.

    Satire background information.
    The entire leadership lost to the AIDS epidemic, no resources, everybody turns a blind EYE. An artistic trend setting “ALL ODDS” against us community is on the edge.

    22 years ago “Outsiders” came into our community to take care of our AIDS needs.
    Now they created their own artistic sub-culture, “Pimping” the community.

    Where do we Go?
    The government provides no oversight.

    Where do we Go?
    This not for profit organization paid everybody off, so they can manipulate the community’s economic, artistic and social progression for financial gain.

    Where do we Go?
    Our own leadership is corrupted and is selling us out. They package our community to receive government grant money and they are not transparent. They cut into our economy to create a dependency on the backs of the community.

    Where do we Go?
    When looking into the future and what impact it will have on this entire community, we see devastating consequences. It leads us into bankruptcy and artistic death, soooo

    Where do we Go?
    Loose Lips Lovers

    more detailed information at http://gmhcitsachop.blogspot.com/

  23. Wolfgang Busch September 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you Gay City News for allowing us to post here. It is very very much appreciated. We are receiving much interest from the public and over 5.000 people read our blog so far and over 1100 read the Satire, we thank you for your interest and support.

    Many blessings from
    Wolf Omni Busch and many members from the Ballroom community who like to remain anonymous because of the potential consequences it may have on them such as loosing social services they are receiving.

    We hope the public can respect their positions.

    The House of Omni is very proud to have taken a leadership ship role in this matter and will continue to fight for justice and empowerment for the Ballroom community. From March 29th until April 5th, the House of Omni and Avant Garde Entertainment are producing the Fist International Ballroom convention, with panels, exhibits, book reading, and the How Do I Look documentary screening. The theme for the convention is “Bridging the Gap” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ballroom-Conventio

    “It’s gonna get severe up in here.”
    Selvin Mizrahi from the How Do I Look documentary

  24. guest October 5, 2013 at 1:18 am

    very disappointing and very troubling – I read the print, see how slanted and one sided it is – insiders being quoted, accusations flying and pictures painted to lure the reader into a false sense of truth when the real facts behind the firing are and will never come out which is why the board is signing documents of silence – why be silent? Let's call a thing a thing – the organization name says it all and at the end of the day the organization wanted its organization back and Dr. Hill did not fit the organization or the name. Wrong sex, wrong color and it is what it is.

    • David Asset March 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      In case you missed the name of the organization: it is the Gay Mens Health Crisis. The agency gets almost all its private support from white gay men. The agency is not named the Women of Color Initiative or Back to Work for People with Aids. Or the Latino Aids project. Hill tried to change the mission of the agency without the permission of the financial base which expected its donations to go to the community of gay men with Aids. If Hill had other aspirations and wanted to create her own agency, she should have done so but she was not serving the gay male community that funded this operation. Plain and simple.

  25. gary January 7, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Such a shame that a women of Ms. Hills stature should be treated with such disrespect. I believe all clients and staff of color should demand that Dr. Hill be reinstated as CEO! ACT UP. PEACE!!!!

  26. David Asset March 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Having worked at GMHC and having experienced D. Hill firsthand, I can only say that the only thing that surprised me about the firing was that the board waited so long. Hill was an unmitigated disaster from the first day I met her, interested only in self-promotion. She had no understanding of budgeting and looked only to re-class her own budget, whenever she wished to make unnecessary purchases, specifically for color-coded office supplies. Hill also sent the wrong message to clients with her inappropriate everyday-is-New-Year's-Eve attire. Her biggest failing however was to define the mission for the organization in the context of changes in Aids Treatment and Education. Specifically, she sought to change the purpose and scope of an organization whose private contribution base was gay male donors without informing the base of the change. It's disappointing that Hill is unable to understand her failings and instead has elected to cloak her dismissal in accusations of racism. Again this is outrageous but not surprising, having witnessed Hill's operation firsthand.

  27. forskolin May 9, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Contrary to a press release stating that Hill’s departure was a mutual decision between her and GMHC’s 25-member board of directors, sources within the organization told this newspaper that Hill was, in fact, fired by the board.

  28. Guest February 9, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Manny Rivera's real name is Frank Jackson, the same guy who was locked up in DR in 2000 for child pornography charges and got fired as a senior Vice President from scandal-ridden Correction Services Corporation because of it. Influence peddler in the State Assembly who was the center of a big corruption scandal there 12 years ago. How does this loser get on a community board to begin with? I hope Manny/Frank lives or works in Central Harlem or else HE needs to step down!


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