Colorado AIDS Project: Merger Creates a Unified Voice for HIV/AIDS Services

Overview

In 2008, five Colorado AIDS service organizations and four funder partners committed to a multi-year process aimed at strengthening HIV/AIDS advocacy and services statewide. With grant support from AIDS United (formerly National AIDS Fund), they came together to determine how to sustain services in an increasingly uncertain funding environment. The effort resulted in a four-way merger that was made official in 2011 and continues to evolve as an opportunity to better serve people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

The new Colorado AIDS Project (CAP) brings together the resources and expertise of four previously independent regional AIDS service organizations: DenverCAP, NCAP (Northern CO), S-CAP (Southern CO), and WestCAP (Western CO). Each has retained its regional name and identity, but all now operate under the umbrella of the new consolidated organization. (The fifth partner organization, the Boulder County AIDS Project, participated in the initial planning and exploration phases, but opted not to continue as part of the merger process.)

The planning process that culminated in this merger was supported by four foundations: the Gill Foundation, The Denver Foundation, the Bright Mountain Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The funders themselves approached this effort as partners and with a shared belief in the value of planning for sustainability and in letting the process run its course without expectations that a merger would necessarily be the result.

This case study draws from interviews with the leaders of the four merging CAPs, as well as with representatives of three of the funder partners.

Interviewees included:

  • Ruth Pederson, CEO, Colorado AIDS Project (formerly Denver CAP)
  • Jeff Basinger, Regional Director, NCAP
  • Richard Blair, Regional Director, S-CAP
  • Mary Beth Luedtke, Regional Director, WestCAP
  • Julie Voyles, Independent Contractor (formerly Program Officer, the Gill Foundation)
  • Christiano Sosa, Program Officer, The Denver Foundation
  • Cathy Lopez Wessell, Executive Director, The Bright Mountain Foundation

Positioned for Uncertainty, Situated to Serve

The HIV/AIDS services field in the U.S. is in a state of flux. HIV/AIDS lost much of its urgency in the public eye when new antiretroviral drug therapies made the disease more manageable. There is also increased competition for visibility and funding from other disease-specific organizations, including massive national campaigns around diabetes, heart disease, and various forms of cancer. In the meantime, federal and state budget cuts have diminished many of the funding streams upon which AIDS service organizations rely, which has spurred significant consolidation among these organizations over the past ten years. Now health care reform is adding yet another layer of complexity to the landscape. Cathy Lopez Wessell of the Bright Mountain Foundation likens it to “a ‘perfect storm’ that is putting the long-term sustainability of services in jeopardy.” These factors inspired the five foundation partners to seek a way to raise the profile of HIV/AIDS services among fellow funders and in the broader community. At the same time, the five AIDS service organizations were seeing that the sustainability of critical services was at stake. Both groups knew that what was needed was not a one-time fix, but a longer-term solution that would build service providers’ capacity to weather such uncertainty and respond to change with greater agility.

CAP’s website captures this sentiment in describing its new positioning as a result of the merger: “The new, statewide Colorado AIDS Project is situated to serve, no matter what the future holds.”

Taking Up Familiar Conversations in New Ways

At a time when funding for HIV/AIDS programs was dwindling, the Gill Foundation, The Denver Foundation, the Bright Mountain Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (which makes grants in the city and county of Pueblo, birthplace of David Packard) shared a commitment to supporting these services in Colorado. They came together as the Colorado HIV/AIDS Community Partnership (CHCP), with an initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to services and developing statewide strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV/AIDS. (The Gill, Denver, and Bright Mountain Foundations first formed the CHCP in 2007. The Packard Foundation joined in 2009, represented by Mary Shipsey Gunn, its Manager of Pueblo Grantmaking. The CHCP also included two community advisors who provided expertise on AIDS treatment and prevention, funding, and policy.) Having funded the regional CAPs for years, the foundations saw these organizations as natural allies and essential partners, and invited them to engage in a sustainability planning process. The CHCP applied to AIDS United (known at the time as National AIDS Fund) for grant funding to support this work, obtaining $400,000 in matching funds over the course of the five-year project.

Initiative Timeline

2008 – Planning and Assessment

2009 – Partnership Exploration

2010 – Merger Negotiations

2011 – Merger Approved

2012 – Implementation


Julie Voyles was a program officer at the Gill Foundation when the planning effort began. (Julie is now an independent contractor, and is in the process of writing a retrospective analysis of the initiative from the CHCP funders’ point of view.) Although the Gill Foundation and others had long been interested in seeing a partnership evolve among these organizations, directive attempts over the years to get them together had proven ineffective. This time, Julie saw her role as more of a facilitator, and let the executives lead the conversation and identify their own solutions. This was an approach she says all of the CHCP funder partners agreed on: “We shared a common value around the relationship between foundations and grantees, and the role of program officers. We really wanted to minimize the power differential.”

Richard Blair of S-CAP describes what this felt like from the grantee perspective:

“It was kind of a leap of faith on their part [the funders], to help generate funds to make this happen without knowing what the outcome was going to be. They were honest up front, telling us, ‘We’re not dictating the outcome, we’re supporting the process.’ At times they may have seemed frustrated that it was taking so long, but they’d also acknowledge that it was a hands-off process.”

Although it may seem like common sense that foundations should not try to force collaboration among grantees, it demands a significant level of risk tolerance for a funder (or group of funders) to invest in a process with no guarantees as to what the result may be. The Denver Foundation’s Christiano Sosa reflects on this challenge: “Usually philanthropic institutions want to see a specific outcome within a specific timeframe. At times, it was difficult to translate to some members of our board that we were taking a different approach. I think it was definitely not ‘business as usual.’”

Process: A Closer Look

Before the initiative began in 2008, important groundwork had been set in place by the CHCP funders and the CAPs, who had spent the previous year defining the initiative and applying for AIDS United funding. However, the executive directors that had participated in framing the initiative would not be the same ones to carry it out because each had decided – coincidentally and independently – to leave their positions. Thus, by early 2008, all of the participating CAPs had new executive directors. However, rather than setting the process aside, the new group of leaders brought a fresh perspective and renewed energy to the conversation. Eager to learn from one another as peers, they developed a strong, engaged relationship very early on that provided a foundation of trust on which to build.

The process began with five CAPs, including the Boulder County AIDS Project, which did not remain part of the initiative for the duration. For all, the first year was a time of building rapport, sizing up one another, and better understanding themselves. Throughout 2008, the executive directors met regularly to talk about their work and to think collectively about the challenges and opportunities they shared. They were supported by a Denver-based strategy consultant who conducted assessments of each organization to identify potential opportunities for consolidation. At the end of this initial planning phase, the executives were not prepared to pursue a merger, but had developed a clearer idea of what additional support they would need in order to consider a strategic partnership.

The CAPs determined that their process would benefit from additional expertise in strategic restructuring, and hired La Piana Consulting, a leader in nonprofit collaboration. Vance Yoshida, Senior Manager, brought this experience and proven methodology to his work with the group over the next three years in laying the groundwork, addressing key issues, and negotiating an agreement. It was an excellent consultant match given Vance’s own experience as a staff member and board member for a number of HIV/AIDS organizations, giving him insight and empathy regarding the challenges each of the CAPs was grappling with.

Laying the Groundwork

In March 2009, the organizations took part in a two-day session. The first day brought together executives and board members, and provided an orientation to strategic restructuring, how and why it is used in the nonprofit sector, and potential challenges and success factors. The discussion included ample time for Q&A. Participants met in small groups to share their concerns and aspirations, and the organizations were encouraged to consider their readiness to engage in a partnership. Executive directors met the following day, digging deeper into what it would look like to initiate their own strategic restructuring process. By the end of the day, they had reviewed the work of the previous year, revisiting what had been done in order to move ahead, and articulated a timeline and process for next steps.

Addressing Key Issues

Throughout that spring and summer, a negotiations committee, comprised of the executive directors and 1-2 board members from each organization, met monthly to identify their desired outcomes for a strategic restructuring, to discuss the similarities and differences among their organizations, to surface concerns and questions that would need to be resolved or answered, and to envision what a new organization might look like. The discussions followed an iterative, but continual, process. Each meeting, participants briefly revisited and confirmed the results of the previous conversations before building on them and adding more detail. Several meetings ended with the consultant taking an informal “confidence meter” check, assessing participants’ feelings about the potential partnership and about their comfort with the process itself.

By the fall of 2009, the negotiations committee was addressing financial and fund development questions, had begun to develop what the new governance structure and organizational chart would look like, and was preparing for a due diligence process in which each of the organizations would make available their financial and other records for review. In December, the group met with the CHCP funders to check in on the overall process.

Challenges and Opportunities

Throughout the process, the consultant encouraged participants to envision the impact the merged organization would be able to achieve, and to voice their fears about strategic restructuring. This enabled the group to surface and address potential obstacles along the way, while still keeping one eye trained on a common goal.

Challenges

  • Funding.Many organizations find themselves grappling with the question: Will merger result in lost donors/funders, or a net reduction in fundraising due to combining overlapping funding sources? In this case, it proved a largely unrealized fear because the organizations had few shared donors. Another area of concern was the cost of the merger itself. Integrating the operations of four mature organizations would take time, expertise, and resources. Although this risk was mitigated by developing a plan to seek integration funding, the partners also agreed that the decision to merge should be a strategic one, and should not be dependent on the availability of outside funding.
  • Control. Often in these situations, the smaller organization(s) worry about being “taken over" by a larger partner. They worry about losing their local relevance or relationship with their community. In this case, the Denver CAP was the largest of the partners, with a mostly urban service area and client base. The others served smaller communities with different characteristics, and were concerned about their ability to remain uniquely local. In part to alleviate these concerns, the board composition was designed to ensure strong representation from all regions: the chair was selected from the board of one of the smaller CAPs, and one officer was selected from each of the other organizations’ boards.

Opportunities

  • Sustainability. From the beginning, the ultimate goal was to find the best way to sustain services to people living with HIV/AIDS. The primary concern was not preserving the individual organizations, but continuing the work itself in the face of change and uncertainty. There was also a shared feeling that this was “the right thing at the right time.”
  • Jeff Basinger of NCAP describes why, although merger had come up before, this time was different.

    “All of us were aware of previous efforts at merger that had been primarily driven by funders 10-14 years ago. We remembered those conversations. This time around, as EDs we were in the middle of changes in the funding priorities of private foundations, and we were looking down the road at health care reform and at changes in Ryan White funding. We realized that there was more we had in common than we had different. What evolved was an honest and genuine realization that we couldn’t let the differences of the past drive us anymore.”

    Mary Beth Luedtke of WestCAP recalls how this vision guided the entire process:

    “The conversation started at sustainability and what would be best for our clients. And that’s what we kept coming back to throughout the process. It continued to be our focus.”

     

Negotiating an Agreement

In March of 2010, the full boards of the organizations convened. It had become clear over the course of the previous year that while many questions still had to be answered, some of the concerns that continued to be raised and identified as sticking points might in fact be signs of resistance. It was time for an ultimate “confidence meter” check. After reviewing the key issues and agreements made to date, the consultant asked each of the organizations to decide whether or not they were committed to continuing with the merger negotiations process.

The group reconvened in July without its fifth member, the Boulder County AIDS Project, which had decided that merger was not the right decision for them. Negotiations and due diligence resumed over the fall, and plans were developed to guide the merger transition and integration. These implementation plans included hiring a transition manager to oversee the integration of administrative and operational systems, engaging a consultant to conduct an organizational culture assessment and visioning process, and identifying the executive leadership of the new organization.

Implementation

Implementation was the focus throughout 2011. Knowing the technical challenge of merging the financial systems, technologies, and human resources policies of four organizations would demand intense attention on a daily basis, a consultant was hired to help manage this transition. This took some of the load off the executives and also brought third-party objectivity to the task of determining which systems and practices should be carried over into the new organization. The group took cultural integration equally seriously, understanding that the relational aspects of merger can often “make or break” its implementation. This was addressed with the help of a cultural anthropologist who engaged the staff and boards of each organization in assessing their current cultures and sharing the results at an all-staff retreat. This experience stands out in the minds of each of the interviewees both for what it did to encourage recognition and respect of the unique cultures of each partner organization, and for helping all staff and board members to feel heard as part of the merger process.

Serving Colorado

Each of Colorado AIDS Project’s four regional service organizations serve more than 3,300 HIV-positive Coloradans annually, plus an additional 30,000 people through education and prevention programs.

  • Denver CAP serves the five-county Denver metro area.
  • NCAP covers a mostly rural, eight-county service area.
  • S-CAP serves a 25-county region covering 43,000 square miles.
  • WestCAP provides services to 22 counties west of the Rockies.

The client demographics and characteristics of each community are addressed by programming tailored to meet their unique needs.


Since the strategic restructuring negotiations had begun, all of the executive directors had said they were not interested in leading the new organization. Instead, their preference was to remain with their respective regional offices in some other capacity. The fact that they were not competing for the chief executive position helped the negotiations go smoothly, but the fact remained that a leader would eventually need to be selected. The group decided to appoint an interim executive director to see the new organization through the merger transition, then hire a CEO after the initial integration was complete.

Ruth Pederson took on the interim position in the fall of 2011. She had been director of the Denver CAP, having assumed that post believing that it would be her last executive position before retiring. Thus, she hardly expected to be offered, let alone to accept, the responsibility of being interim executive director of the new organization. But she took on the challenge knowing she had the confidence of her colleagues and a background in finance and administration that made her well suited to navigate the technical aspects of the integration.

The merger was officially put into effect October 2011, and the new organization is, at the time of this writing, in the process of interviewing candidates for the CEO position. Ruth Pederson is looking forward to her deferred retirement, and the other former executives of the regional CAPs continue to serve as regional directors.

The Denver CAP was chosen as the surviving corporate entity for the merged organization because of its deep administrative capacity, and the fact that it was already managing joint contracts for the regional CAPs. However, some tension remains around whether a centralized organization can continue to maintain strong regional representation and meet the needs of these diverse communities. Efforts have been made to structurally address this concern through the creation of regional advisory councils, which (in the absence of individual boards) will allow for continued local stakeholder involvement.

Maintaining Regional Diversity

Each of the CAPs has served their local community for more than 20 years. This deep and longstanding regional commitment made it difficult to consider adopting a centralized statewide structure.

To maintain strong local ties, the new organization created regional advisory councils. These councils enable past board members and other stakeholders to remain involved at the community level through fundraising and friendraising activities.

Each region continues to provide services under its own place-based name and exercises significant autonomy in programmatic decision-making. In time, Colorado AIDS Project will begin to look at how aligning its programs can leverage best practices and enhance client services across its service area.

The new organization brings together urban and rural services, but with a common commitment.


In 2012, the fifth and final year of this initiative, the Colorado AIDS Project is deeply engaged in operational integration activities and in the process of recruiting for a new CEO. The funders are developing a retrospective report on the results of this work, and will be closing out the grant by year’s end.

Stronger Together: Initial Results of the Merger

In looking for ways they could become stronger together, the organizations saw opportunities to work more efficiently by combining financial systems, information technology, human resources management, and other operational functions. The prospect of centralizing programs, however, posed questions about regional diversity and whether some level of local autonomy ought to be preserved. Thus, it was natural that operational and administrative systems integration would proceed first, in order to provide a strong backbone for the new statewide organization, and that programmatic integration would wait until it could be more closely considered.

Early benefits of the merger include operational efficiencies and improvements, such as a more uniform compensation policy and improved benefits premiums, as well as some promising opportunities for fund development. As WestCAP’s Mary Beth Luedtke reports, “What’s been accomplished so far is the back office operations. Getting those aligned was a real task, but we have some economy of scale there now. There’s also a good conversation about developing grants for statewide programming.”

Even more significant is the enhanced leverage the new organization now has, as a unified voice for HIV/AIDS services in Colorado. This greater capacity for advocacy has already been tested, as described by Jeff Basinger:

“We have more impact as a state organization that is a large employer, has a big budget, and serves lots of families. Increased advocacy was truly one of my foremost goals for the merger because with that there is increased awareness, funding sources, and voice. We’ve already seen this numerous times, in interactions with policymakers, for example. As a small organization, we could have easily been bullied by other players and by bad public health policy and legislation.”

Christiano Sosa makes a similar observation from the funder perspective: “With a larger organization representing the majority of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, they have a stronger voice collectively than they do individually. So when policy decisions are being made by the state they have more leverage than they had in the past.”

Christiano also suggests that the new organization’s size offers greater stability and strategic capacity than when each region operated independently:

“Before, it was all about putting out fires and responding to the crisis of the moment, and it’s hard to forecast when you’re in that space, to look at the longer horizon. I hope that as a result of the merger, they will be stronger and can think more long-term.”

When it comes to looking at its programs and services, the merged organization will be able to draw on best practices from its collective experience and to bring greater consistency and equal access to a range of services across the geographic service area. Ruth Pederson reflects on how growing organizational capacity will have a positive impact on quality services: “The quality improves as you have more specialized staff providing those services. In small organizations, you have to wear many hats. As you grow, you can specialize more, which improves quality.” Richard Blair of S-CAP shares this optimism, viewing the organization’s stronger advocacy voice as an indicator: “The scope of our potential has increased dramatically. The scope of impact we can have with individuals will also increase dramatically as well.”

Lessons Learned

Free to Choose

This planning process began with five organizations and ended with four. Increasingly, multiple organizations are initiating exploratory processes together. Often, by the time specific strategic restructuring options begin to take shape or due diligence gets to a certain point, one or more of the partners may decide that it’s just not right for them and opt out of the process. Rather than hold out for consensus among all organizations at the table, it may sometimes be necessary to look at what a subset of partners would like to do. All partners are free to choose, and supported by a thorough and thoughtful process, they will be equipped with the information they need.

It Takes Time

Multi-party mergers like this one can make for a complex and time-intensive process. For example, all major decisions need to be run through four boards of directors. Due diligence materials must be collected and packaged to make comparative analysis possible and relatively easy. In this case, the organizations were geographically dispersed, which demanded travel time, even though in-person meetings were rotated among locations so as not to put disproportionate demands on any one group. It also simply takes time to build relationships and achieve the level of mutual trust needed for a partnership. Additionally, with multiple partners involved, each had their own preferences and tolerances for the timing and pace of the process. Some were ready to move faster and might have liked the negotiations to go more quickly, while others needed more time and likely wished for things to slow down at times. Striking a balance, by urging patience on the part of some and keeping others moving along, can be more challenging with more partners at the table.

Moving From Me to We

One of the biggest questions the negotiation team grappled with was where and how decision making would occur after the merger. A key concern was whether each region would be able to maintain some level of autonomy in making decisions about its programs and services. These concerns diminished some over time, as the group built deeper levels of trust and realized they had to make decisions based on what was best for the whole, not each region individually. The organizational culture consultation they received helped them to articulate a shared culture for the new organization. Structural decisions around board representation and the regional advisory councils also quelled concerns and enabled the group to begin thinking of itself as a unified entity. Consultant Vance Yoshida remarks that this was a major turning point: “Early on, the committee would talk about ‘my organization,’ and by the time they merged it was about ‘how is it going to impact us, and what do we need to do?’”

What Contributed to Success

Strength-Based Approach

One of the greatest predictors of success is that a merger or partnership is sought from a position of strength. Although in this situation the partner organizations were grappling with economic pressures and changes in the funding environment, none was in a position of having to merge. Richard Blair says this was a distinguishing characteristic of the partnership: “This wasn’t a merger of necessity. We all came into this with valuable assets that we were willing to share to build something better, versus having to do it because we were in financial dire straits. I think that makes us different.” Coming from this position of strength, each of the organizational leaders was able to bring their best selves as professionals and social change agents. Jeff Basinger reflects on this experience: “These are people who are dedicated, experienced, genuine, authentic, warriors. It is wonderful to feel part of such a revolutionary event that truly will sustain HIV/AIDS care and prevention services in Colorado.”

Equality

It was also extremely important that all of the organizations came to the table as equals. They were each well established in their communities, having provided services for 20 years or more. But Denver was clearly the largest of the organizations, and this difference could have easily put the other CAPs on the defensive. This is a common tension in partnership negotiations: smaller nonprofits are rightfully wary of being “taken over” by a larger partner or partners. However, in this case, the executives and board members on the negotiations team were intentional about treating one another as peers and putting their respective organizations on equal footing when it came to forming the new structure, determining how decisions would be made, and creating a new shared culture.

Challenges Are Opportunities

Sometimes, what is experienced as a challenge can also be a strength of the process, and vice versa.

For example, the time investment of this five-year process was considerable. It was challenging for participants to sustain their energy and momentum over such a lengthy period of time, which is why it was so important to have expert facilitation and a guided process to keep everyone working productively together. It was also difficult for the funders to assure some board members that patience with the process would eventually pay off. Christiano Sosa reports, “They were saying, ‘Shouldn’t this [merger] have happened already?’ For those who weren’t part of the process, the timeline seemed long.”

Despite the challenges of the time frame, there were benefits as well. Trust takes time to build, and there are no shortcuts to developing the kind of relationship needed to commit to a merger. Richard Blair describes this process, and the importance of time: “The process itself – communication, sharing, and support between the agencies – that all started years ago. It didn’t start last October with the formal merger. We’d already been sharing ideas, support, and information with each other for over three years. In some ways, the merger was anticlimactic, in the sense that we’d already been working really well together for so long to build the process.”

The turnover in executive leadership posed a similar challenge/opportunity paradox. On the one hand, it was an anxious moment for the funders and put pressure on the new directors, none of whom were quite sure what to expect walking into the room at the start of year two. However, this same dynamic also presented a great opportunity, as Julie Voyles notes: “We all said, ‘Oh no!’ But it [the executive turnover] was actually a really important factor in why and how it did work.” Since none of the new executives had a legacy to protect, they were able to approach the process open to the possibilities.

Although the incoming executives were new to their positions, they were still hired as executives, so it was no small thing to ask them to participate in forming a partnership that would ultimately change this. As regional directors, each is now able to continue to serve his or her own community, but no longer has the same responsibilities, decision making authority, or access to information as when s/he was an executive. This is a difficult transition, and can also be a source of tension. One of the factors that helped them arrive at this agreement was the continual communication and trust-building that occurred throughout the planning process. Unfortunately, once the merger was approved and integration efforts got underway, time was no longer carved out for those regular meetings. One might argue that such communication is more important now than ever.

In a similar vein, the negotiations process benefited a great deal from the organizational culture assessment, and now that implementation is underway and a new CEO is about to be hired, it may be time to revisit those conversations. Jeff Basinger talks about the value of the process and his hopes for keeping the culture conversation at the forefront as the integration continues: “Finding what those organizational values are was inspiring. Staff got really excited about it, and we did a statewide retreat with 60 people, where each of the regional offices presented their culture and was well received. We need that again when the new CEO comes in, to work on our new culture, and to find out how he/she fits in.”

Funder Role

Another critical success factor was the approach the funders took in supporting this effort. In addition to going out and helping find the funds to support the process, the CHCP funders offered a great deal of flexibility along with the accountability of a formal grant that together provided just the right motivation. Mary Beth Luedtke characterizes this support:

“Their engagement was the perfect amount. They weren’t dictating what we were talking about, how we needed to talk about it, or how quickly. But their engagement did hold us accountable to certain benchmarks and such. Their flexibility around the timeline was great. It was a process of discovery, and they were OK with what we came up with. This approach is very unusual for a funder. They were great supporters and true partners.”

The funders, in turn, recognize that this “discovery” process required a leap of faith on the part of not only their boards, but the organizations, as well. Julie Voyles says of this element of success: “So much was just doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right people, in the right way. The individuals and the foundations/institutions…they were all willing to be with that uncertainty. That was surprising to me.”

AIDS United funding also included leadership development support that helped to build the CHCP partnership and sustain their strong mutual commitment over the five-year initiative. Cathy Lopez Wessell notes how important it was that the funders approach this work collaboratively: “If we’re asking four organizations to talk about strategic partnerships, we need to model that. You have to ‘walk the walk.’”

What’s Next

With the final year of the planning grant coming to a close, the CHCP foundations have offered assistance with publicly launching the new merged organization, but are leaving it up to Colorado AIDS Project leadership to decide what they need. In the meantime, Julie Voyles reflects on the funder experience: “We’ve been asking ourselves ‘what is success?’ Our view is that they decided to merge – we don’t know if it was the right thing, and may not know for years. But I do think they’ll have a lot more power and leverage as a combined force than they had as individual organizations.”

For its part, the Colorado AIDS Project looks at the merger as a continuing process, as described on a blog launched specifically to inform the public about the merger: “We’re bringing the new, merged Colorado AIDS Project to the world a little differently. We’re making it a conversation with no precise beginning and end.” The next step in its process, the hiring of a permanent CEO, will be a major step toward cementing the newly formed organization and realizing its full potential as a unified voice for HIV/AIDS services in Colorado.