5 questions with Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson recently celebrated his 20th anniversary as vice president and chief operating officer of AIDS Services Dallas. That agency has provided housing for people living with AIDS since 1987.
How did you get involved with ASD?
I worked in human services for about 14 years and served as executive director of two nonprofit agencies, both of which provided housing and supportive services much like ASD, But the target populations were for people diagnosed as chronically mentally ill. Don Maison and I applied for the same position. He was offered the ED position and the ASD board offered me the position of program director.
As a straight man, how did you originally feel working in a predominately gay agency?
That has never really been an issue, at least to me. People are people, straight or gay. When I interviewed for the position, I was very impressed with the commitment and earnestness of the board. They were challenged by something horrible that was happening to their friends and partners.
How has your job changed over the years?
Man, has the job ever changed! It has much more to do with compliance, regulations, dealing with audits and supervising. When I started, we had five employees and two apartments complexes. Now ASD has more than 60 employees and four complexes for approximately 170 people living with HIV/AIDS, one low-income 292-unit apartment complex and two senior housing facilities. In the beginning, you did whatever you saw that needed to be done from hospice care to mowing the grass and going to pick up a donation.
How has ASD focused its energy?
Early on we decided to pay attention to our mission. There were plenty of opportunities to go into different tangents. We had to make choices; do you follow the money and do whatever you can to get it? We have always considered housing to be a core need of people and that’s what we have been best at doing. We are a housing agency first.
What are the agency’s plans for the future?
I think ASD will be providing housing for as long as the need exists. Maybe it won’t have to be for people with HIV/AIDS. Hopefully at some point in time the disease will be eradicated. But unfortunately, the need for low-income housing and services has been around a long, long time.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 24, 2009.