Tiffany Gilliard, head of the local secretariat for AIDS 2012, was part of the team at Destination DC that brought the conference to the nation’s capital. Here
she talks about what it was like to move from salesperson to client for the same event.
The interesting process was, I courted them and said, “This is what D.C. can do.” And as they confirmed us and they started their planning, the conference director in Geneva and I had some very real conversations about what it would take for a person to be head of their local ofice. I’m a meeting planner, so I immediately thought, you need a meeting planner — when you really
don’t just need a meeting planner, you need someone who from an administrative perspective knows how to run an ofice and knows how to pull a staff together.
It did help that I had some meetings experience from working in the industry for 17 years and working with meeting planners, because when it came time to go back to the convention center to renegotiate things that I had already promised [during her time at Destination DC], I knew what could happen or couldn’t happen. I’m cashing my own checks. I went from working for Elliott [Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC,] to calling Elliott going, “So remember we said…?”
My job ends Dec. 31, 2012. After the conference is done, we have to wrap up, so
most of our staff ends in August. Myself and our executive assistant will stay on until the end of the year. And then I will interview [for a new job].
Personally, I have been forever changed by this. I always thought of myself as a servant- leader, and I hope that my next opportunity still allows me to give back. Someone told me when I first started this job it would be really tough, but on the toughest days remember that you are doing God’s work because you are giving something back. People who come to this conference either live with HIV or have been impacted by HIV, and they will learn something more. So I hope that whatever I do next is something that benefits somebody.
PHOTOGRAPH BY IAS/RYAN RAYBURN (OPENING SPREAD) IAS/STEVE SHAPIRO (SECOND SPREAD)