|Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Jeff Sheehy and CIRM governing board chair Jonathan Thomas|
You find out the most unexpected things in announcements from state bodies. For instance, a recent news release from State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg’s office contained this line: Charles J. Sheehy, a Democrat from San Francisco, has been reappointed as a representative of an HIV/AIDS advocacy group to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Independent Citizens Oversight Committee.
I’ve known Mr. Sheehy for many years, dating back to my time as a TV journalist specializing in health and medical news, but I had no idea his given first name was Charles! Who knew? Everyone I know calls him Jeff. But while I didn’t know his first name, what I do know about Jeff is that he is a tireless advocate for patients and that we are delighted he has signed up for another tour of duty as a member of our governing board.
In his day job Jeff is the Director for Communications at the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF. He is also a longtime HIV/AIDS and gay civil rights activist and a person living with HIV. He brings with him not just a wealth of experience but also a great deal of compassion and dedication, all wonderful qualities to have in someone who plays such an important role in shaping how we do our job.
But his most important role is in helping keep us focused on what our real purpose is here, namely, finding treatments for people with chronic diseases and disorders. Jeff never loses sight of that goal and his impact is felt at every level of our organization. For example, there are seven subcommittees on the ICOC, our governing board, and Jeff is a member and very active participant on six and is Co-Chair on one of them, the Science Subcommittee. (There’s more about the subcommittees on our website.)
In many ways Jeff embodies one of the founding principals of CIRM: that patient advocates have a voice in everything we do, help shape the way we work, and the research we fund. But he is also a lot more than that. He is a great colleague to have around – particularly for those of us who work in communications. He always has good ideas and brings a fresh perspective to any conversation. And he’s always happy to help out in any way he can. For a small organization with huge goals, that’s always appreciated.
His involvement extends to blogging for us – he’s written in the past about our HIV/AIDS projects and about the involvement of patient advocates in funding decisions. You can read can read those posts here. He also worked with us on a video that discusses the HIV/AIDS project led by John Zaia at City of Hope.
Jeff was sworn in this week by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and his term runs till November 30, 2020. Which is great news for us. Jeff is blessed with a sharp mind and an open heart, and we consider ourselves fortunate he is going to continue to be an important part of our work for at least the next 8 years.