LOS ANGELES –The Black AIDS Institute (BAI) has named Tonica “Toni” Robinson as its Director of Development effective as of April 22. “To be part of an organization that has a rich history in supporting healthcare disparities in the Black community is not only aligned with my personal belief system, it is an honor,” says Robinson. “I am really looking forward to being able to implement a development plan that will extend our reach and enable us to serve more members of the Black community.”
The director of development is responsible for the creation, developing and implementation of an annual comprehensive fund development plan that incorporates individual, corporate and foundation solicitation, annual appeals, and special events, and engages key organizational stakeholders in activities that increase the financial resources and support to BAI. This role will also develop, analyze and evaluate systems and structures for tracking and reporting fundraising data.
BAI’s President and CEO, Raniyah Copeland, says, “I am excited to bring Toni into the BAI family and on to our executive team during this time of transition for the organization, and as we approach our 20th anniversary.” She added, “I look forward to Toni’s leadership as she helps us raise the awareness of the Black AIDS Institute and increase our engagement with individual donors and creates new partnerships with foundations and corporations.”
Robinson comes to this role with more than 17 years of development, marketing, communication, and advocacy experience. “All my past work has been with community-based organizations and local government entities; though even while working with the government entities, I held community-focused positions,” she says. “In those 17 years, I have raised approximately 90 million dollars through grant writing, special events, corporate sponsorships, and nurturing individual relationships. I am looking forward to cracking the 100 million ceiling here at BAI.”
Some of her past positions have included being a social service innovation planner for Riverside University Health System, senior public information officer for the City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs, and a marketing and development coordinator for The Salvation Army Las Vegas.
Robinson has dedicated her life to work for the betterment of the underserved and underrepresented. “Historically, Black people have always been systemically held at the end of the line when it comes to healthcare information and access but at the front of the line when it comes to unauthorized experimentation,” she says. “For these reasons, Black America has a level of distrust when it comes to healthcare, so education and access are very important. The effect that HIV/AIDS has had on Black America can be linked to these challenges.” She added, “My passion lies in eliminating new cases. HIV/AIDS is preventable, I feel that access and education are the key to elimination.”
Robinson cites former First Lady Michelle Obama as one of her sheroes. “Not because of her position as FLOTUS, but because she had the courage and passion to leave her job at a law firm to start a career in public service…She has spent the better part of her adult life as a public servant.” She also says the late Fanny Lou Hamer, who co-founded the Freedom Democratic Party, is an inspiration. “Although unsuccessful, she had the courage and the passion to run for the U.S. Senate and the Mississippi State Senate.”
Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, a Master’s in Public Policy focused on Health Policy from American Public University System, and a Graduate Certificate in Marketing from Cornell University. In the near future, she will complete a Master of Laws degree with a focus on Health Care Compliance from the University of Southern California.
During her free time she enjoys hanging out at the beach. “Ocean water is so calming to me,” says Robinson. “You can also catch me enjoying a good meal, reading a good book, or totally vegging out on my sofa watching reality television or a gripping documentary.”
Robinson says, “I strongly believe in ‘Nothing about us without us,’ and I admire that BAI holds strong to that philosophy by emphasizing: our people, our problem, our solution.”
*Hygh is senior communications Manager for the Black AIDS Institute.