Grantee News

SAAF’s CEO Elected to TUSD Governing Board

A Letter from Dr. Ravi Grivois-Shah, November 18, 2020:

Dear SAAF Community,

I’m writing today to share good news…. As many of you may have already heard, the voters of Tucson have elected me to serve on the TUSD Governing Board!

The Tucson Unified School District, with over 40,000 students, is the largest school district in Southern Arizona, and third largest in the state. I’m humbled and honored that voters of Tucson not only put their trust in me, but also elected our first openly LBGTQ+ member of the TUSD Governing Board.

As a member of the TUSD Governing Board, I’ll help set policy and priorities that affect the education and lives of so many in our community, including my own family and three children. From my vantage point as CEO of SAAF, I’ll be able to fight for inclusive curriculum, policies that are fair for students of all backgrounds, and support for our most vulnerable youth.

We all know how important it is to have seats at the table in order to develop sound policy. I learned that first-hand when I was a member of the TUSD Family Life Curriculum (FLC, “sex ed”) Committee last year, and what it took to ensure that the FLC curriculum was not only medically accurate and comprehensive, but inclusive of LGBTQ+ students and families.

So much of what we do at SAAF is standing up for the most vulnerable in our community, especially LGBTQ+ youth. I’m excited how my role on the TUSD Governing Board will further this mission.

These past few weeks have been an amazing time for me and my family. My start at SAAF has been so amazing, thanks to you and the outpouring of support from a community that so wants SAAF to succeed. Thank you for the positivity and support these past few months. I hope I continue to earn that from you in the months and years ahead!

Here’s to working together towards a “healthy and stigma-free society”. Thank you for being a part of this critical mission.

Warm regards,

Ravi Grivois-Shah, MD MPH MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation

Shattering Stigma Mural in Downtown Toledo

The second installation of the “Shattering Stigma” project was done recently – a project funded by the Greater Toledo Community Foundation (GTCF) and a collaboration between artist Gail Christofferson of Animal House Glass Studio and Zepf Center. Unique to this installation are QR codes embedded in the piece that allow viewers to get more information about mental illness and how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Funding came from GTCF’s David C. and Lura M. Lovell Foundation Designated Fund which supports programs that seek to reduce the stigma around living with and seeking services for mental health issues.

What are the facts?

One in five adults will experience a mental illness.

  • Life expectancy for someone with a mental illness can be up to 25 years shorter than for someone without – often due to untreated medical conditions.
  • Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart Half of all cases of mental illness begin between the ages of 15-25.
  • More than 50% of all adults living in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their
  • For more information, visit Mental Health America at If you need help now, call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency room.

–From 11/5/20 GTCF Facebook Post

Virtual Screening and Panel Discussion of BEDLAM 10/27/20

Arizona Public Media and NAMI Southern Arizona invite you to join us for a special virtual screening of Bedlam.

Tuesday, October 27 at 6:30 pm

Based on the critically-acclaimed book with the same title, this feature-length documentary from Independent Lens immerses us in the national crisis surrounding care of the severely mentally ill through intimate stories of patients, families, and medical providers.

We will be joined in the chat by experts in the mental health field, including:

  • Christina Bickelmann, Executive Director of NAMI Southern Arizona
  • H. Clarke Romans Former Executive Director of NAMI Southern Arizona
  • Sgt. Jason Winsky, Tucson Police Dept Mental Health Support Team

We encourage you to interact with our featured experts and other guests during the screening via the chat function. Guests will not be on camera or audio, so feel free to get comfortable!



COVID-19 Challenges for Older LGBTQ+ People – Survey Presentation 10/13/20

COVID-19 Creates Unique Challenges for Older LGBTQ+ People: UA SIROW Researchers Share Pioneering Survey Results

 After a lifetime of fighting for their basic human rights, aging LGBTQ+ people face a whole new series of social and medical challenges. We can now add COVID-19 to that list of hurdles.

Quickly recognizing unique threats the corona virus may hold for this vulnerable population, local research scientists Beth Meyerson and Sally Dodds sprang into action early in the pandemic to create and administer a survey of COVID risks and impacts for LGBTQ+ older people in Arizona–perhaps the first such study ever conducted. They will present to the public five important takeaways from their survey results on Tuesday, October 13 at the Southern Arizona Senior Pride monthly Speaker Series, held at 2pm online (via Zoom).

The program will emphasize Pima County data important to LGBTQ+ community members, their friends, family, and support networks. Key topics will include: (1) health status of older LGBTQ+ adults, (2) risk reduction and protective behaviors, (3) impact of staying home and quarantine isolation on mental health, (4) what individuals and (5) service organizations can do to help.

Dr. Sally Dodds, a retired UA professor of psychiatry and medicine with a career background in HIV/AIDS research, explains: “We believe that work like this will really build a stronger community infrastructure for LGBTQ people.” She notes that these survey results are only the prelude to a much larger critical needs assessment currently underway “to help determine the priorities for programs and policies needed by older queer adults.”

Describing herself as a “pracademic” because of her decades of public health practice and policy experience, Dr. Beth Meyerson is currently a research professor with the Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW) and an affiliate with the Institute for LGBT Studies, both programs of UA. She notes: “This project was made possible by partnerships with LGBTQ organizations throughout the state. During the COVID19 ‘stay home’ order, it was almost impossible to reach people; but we could do so electronically and through their vast networks. We are grateful for the collaboration.”

Southern Arizona Senior Pride celebrates, supports, and unites Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender older adults in southern Arizona.

Beth Meyerson, , 520-626-5908

Lavina Tomer, Ex. Director, Southern Arizona Senior Pride, , 520-312-8923

Carter Center Mental Health Journalism Fellowships

Featured September 2020

“Informed journalists can have a significant impact on public understanding of mental health issues as they shape debate and trends with the words and pictures they convey.”
-Rosalynn Carter

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has been a steadfast advocate for parity and improving the lives of those living with mental health disorders. The Center’s Mental Health Program, which houses the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, works to improve access to quality behavioral health services through varied initiatives.

Supported by Mrs. Carter’s long-standing advocacy for the rights of people with mental illnesses, the Mental Health Program promotes awareness about mental health issues, informs public policy, achieves equity for mental health care comparable to other health care, and reduces stigma and discrimination against those living with mental illness.

Founded in 1996, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism aims to increase the accuracy of behavioral health reporting, while decreasing incorrect, stereotypical content in circulation. Over the years, the Fellowship has created a cadre of better-informed professional journalists who more accurately and thoughtfully report information through media channels, creating a ripple effect of a more understanding society.

Click here to learn more.

Annenberg Inclusion Initiative

Click here to read the newest report from Professor Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The study is the most comprehensive and intersectional look at film, and examines 57,629 characters in 1,300 top films from 2007 to 2019.

Read more about the report in Variety, the LA Times, and Deadline.

There has been little to no progress when it comes to all speaking characters shown on screen in 13 years. A few key findings include:

  • 34% of all characters were female-identified.
  • 34.3% of speaking characters were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
  • 1.4% of speaking characters were LGBTQ
  • 2.3% of speaking characters were depicted with a disability

Arizona Public Media Emmy Nominations

The Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) announced last week that Arizona Public Media staff received 13 individual Emmy® nominations for 8 projects across 8 categories, more than any other television station in the Tucson market. AZPM has again been nominated for the coveted Overall Excellence Award, which recognizes the contributions of the entire staff to overall station operations, local productions, and involvement in the community.

The symbol of excellence in the television industry, the Emmy is presented to individuals working on television productions in both the Program and Craft (editing, audio production, talent, etc.) categories. Entries are judged by peers at television stations outside the Rocky Mountain region. The Emmy judges clearly recognize the work and dedication of the talented team at AZPM and have acknowledged that commitment with these nominations. Winners will be announced at an online gala in mid-September. A full list of AZPM’s Emmy nominees is available on the AZPM website.

AFI Ranked #1 Film School

The American Film Institute Conservatory was ranked the number one film school in America by the Hollywood Reporter. Click here to read the article.