Staff Spotlight: Brian Taylor, CLEAR Program Coordinator
For the past six months Brian Taylor has been coordinator of Mazzoni Center's CLEAR program (Choosing Life Empowerment Action Results), our one-on-one life skills counseling program for people living with HIV. Prior to this, Brian worked as an HIV/STI tester and counselor both for Mazzoni and other organizations.
“One of my biggest drives for coming to Mazzoni was wanting to give back to the LGBT community and contribute to my community, and I thought that Mazzoni would be an excellent vehicle for that. It does a great job at servicing our queer community within Philadelphia,” Brian says.
Originally from Connecticut, Brian moved to Philadelphia about 8 years ago to attend Temple University, and has been here ever since, now living in South Philly.
In the shift from tester to CLEAR Coordinator, Brian says he most appreciates being able to connect and build relationships with clients through the one-on-one nature of the program. As a tester, he says, if someone’s test comes back HIV positive, “you’re only giving them that result and then you sort of are sending them on their way. There’s not a verified system of being able to check back in and see how they’re doing because they’re off with other people now who specialize in those areas moving forward.”
The CLEAR program consists of five main sessions, each focusing on a different area of wellbeing and life skills: from goal-setting, to problem-solving, to using effective communication. Then, clients can choose to continue on with more specialized sessions around stigma, substance abuse, disclosing their HIV status and more. And, the program is free of charge.
Brian says, after completing the program, clients have told him that a major benefit of the sessions is that they provide a space to focus and hone in on specific goals, regardless of other things happening in their lives. For this reason, empathy, understanding, and openmindedness are crucial in his work, because clients come from all walks of life. He says, “I love being able to talk with clients and provide a space in which they can communicate what they’re feeling and reorient their life if need be and just work with them ongoing to try and better themselves.”
Beyond his many years of experience working with people living with HIV, Brian also has a personal connection to the work that helps him relate to what clients are going through and serve them better. “I myself am HIV positive so being able to help people navigate that when I know how difficult it can be is very important to me,” he said. “I try to ease the process as much as possible because I didn’t necessarily have that when I was going through it, so if I’m able to spare anybody even the slightest amount of grief or anxiety then all the better.”
Interested in finding out more, or getting started with the CLEAR program? Email Brian today.