For three years, NAPWA existed as a loosely affiliated network of PWAs active in local coalitions; PWA Coalition of New York, Being Alive Los Angeles, Lifelink in Washington, DC and the PWA Coalition of Dallas are just a few of them. The need for a more structured, national organization soon became obvious. The members of NAPWA’s first Board of Directors consisted of Billy Burton of Houston, Luis Maura of Los Angeles, Bobby Reynolds and Richard Rector of San Francisco, Joseph Foulon, Michael Hirsch, and Grifford Gold of New York City, Allen Kuconiz from Dorechester, Massachusetts, John Lorenzini of Salt Lake City, Fred Garnett of Washington, DC and Michael Simanowicz of Chicago. NAPWA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation in 1987 through the contributions of Jay Coburn, Paul Kawata and Stephen Beck, its first Executive Director, to be the voice of people with AIDS at the center of power.
Over the years, NAPWA has been a strong and consistent national leader for people with AIDS, ensuring that our voice is always at the table when decisions affecting our lives are being made. NAPWA has withstood financial setbacks and other serious threats to its leadership. Our Board of Directors and staff, however, have continued to grow in skill, commitment and determination to see an end to this epidemic. NAPWA remains committed that people with HIV and AIDS are neither silent victims nor passive patients as our lives are challenged. We have had a critical impact on the nation’s policies affecting us and changed the way policy makers work with all people affected by a disability or disease. We hope to do so until the last day of this pandemic.