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February 9, 2017

PHII welcomes new Project Manager to Practice Support

With many exciting projects in the works, PHII’s Practice Support unit is thrilled to welcome a new project manager, Michael DeMayo, MPH, to its team. Michael brings with him over two decades of experience managing a variety of public health initiatives. In his new role, he will help guide the development, evaluation and execution of projects.

Passionate, ambitious and bold, Michael embodies a unique set of skills that wasn't always intended to branch into public health. Originally, he was an aspiring actor in the 1980s and worked in New York City’s restaurant business to support himself through acting school. In his spare time, he began volunteering for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)—a nonprofit organization started in 1981 to provide HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy—during the rise of the AIDS epidemic. Through his work with GHMC, he became fascinated by the research and behavioral change strategies he learned and by the lack of treatment and education around HIV/AIDS. He transitioned into a full-time staff member in the organization’s education department and was inspired to return to school and study public health, earning both his bachelor of science and master of public health degrees.

Being an activist in HIV/AIDS research allowed Michael to be part of a movement that helped transform the landscape of health care. He became involved in projects that addressed the challenges of people in need: access to proper care, an improved FDA drug approval process and lifting the stigma HIV left on people suffering by educating communities and changing the language of how the disease was discussed. His work in AIDS research ignited his passion, and although public health was an unexpected career for Michael, his path has been driven by improving the lives of people in need.

“Public health is really about changing lives—not only of individuals, but whole countries. It’s not about self-glorification, and it feels like a noble endeavor to be a part of it. To have a lasting impact on populations feels satisfying,” he shared.

Now, with proper access to care and ample educational resources, HIV/AIDS has become a manageable disease, and after 30 years as an activist, Michael was ready for a new direction. Working in HIV community planning groups has helped him develop skills in grant writing, program evaluation and design, and project management. He became familiar with the Task Force for Global Health through relationships he nurtured in previous roles. He began writing grants for PHII, and he realized his past endeavors were useful in driving our program’s mission.

“Public health is really about changing lives...it's not about self-glorification, and it feels like a noble endeavor to be a part of it.”

 

His interests started to shift from activism to understanding how information and technology are used to improve public health, and he transitioned from a contracted grants writer to a full-time staff member. His experience has taught him the importance of comprehensive data, and he is excited to apply his knowledge to PHII projects. One he is particularly interested in managing is focused on electronic case reporting of sexually transmitted infections. 

“Work is important to me. I like having a connection with work that has meaning and integrity and value in the world, and I’m just thrilled to be here.”

When Michael isn’t working in the world of public health, you can always find him with a tennis racquet in his hand. An avid player, he joins teams and competes in singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles. His goal is to create a map of all the tennis courts in Atlanta, highlighting the hidden gems. His tennis partner? His dog, Hudson. According to Michael, he’s “the best ball boy in the business."