“I guess one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is how powerful information can be,” says Eduardo Guzman, a native of Mexico who joined AID FOR AIDS in 2009. “Information and how you deliver it is a key to everything we do. We have a million stories here that need to be told. My job is to make sure they are told to the right people in the right words.”
Eduardo, whose official title is Programs and Development Manager, is, in fact, a sort of one-man nerve center of the organization. Up to this writing, he has operated mostly in the background, feverishly working the phones, hatching innovative promotional ideas in his office cubicle, and juggling a half-dozen or more projects at a time. As multi-taskers go, Eduardo is a grandmaster.
“For any organization to succeed, you need people behind the scenes who can handle lots of tasks without losing their enthusiasm and creative spark,” says Jesus Aguais, AFAI’s founder and executive director. “Eduardo has that gift. No matter how many responsibilities I pile on him, he keeps coming up with exciting new ideas and promotions.”
Eduardo came to the U.S. in 2001 and attended Eastern Connecticut State University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Political Science. His next academic stop was the prestigious London School of Economics, where he earned a Master’s in Global Politics, with a particular focus on human rights issues.
Upon graduation, Eduardo aimed to leverage his impressive academic credentials into a distinguished career at the United Nations or other prominent geo-political organization. But his ambitions underwent a major change in March, 2009, when he was introduced to AID FOR AIDS International by a representative of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Though he knew little about HIV, and AID FOR AIDS was a far cry from a high-profile, globe-trotting job at the U.N., Eduardo found that AFAI’s mission fit perfectly with his studies in global politics and human rights, and his need to be where the action is.
Starting as a Program Coordinator in support of AFAI’s Access to Treatment initiatives and Education Programs, Eduardo eventually found his true niche in programs and development.
“I like to be moving around, to be constantly confronted with new projects and challenges,” he says. In his current job, Eduardo is always on the move, formulating AID FOR AIDS’ communications strategy, working with corporate and individual donors, and creating and managing strategic partnerships. This process represents a delicate and complex dance, requiring each partner to adapt its own needs to the wishes and goals of the other. Sustaining a single marriage is hard enough; Eduardo has to practice corporate polygamy.
Over the past few weeks, Eduardo was a virtual whirlwind around the office, running from desk to desk, pulling together the team that mounted the 10th annual 2011 My Hero Gala. Now that the gala—which was enormously successful in raising funds and awareness of AFAI’s mission – is over, you would expect him to kick back a little and relax. But “relax” is not a word that comes easily to Eduardo.
“There are so many demands on my time now, so many deadlines, so many details that need to get done right and promptly,” he explains. “Working in the nonprofit world, you find yourself wishing you had more resources to hire assistants who could handle that load. But, in the end, when you get something done, the results make the whole effort worthwhile.”
Like all his AFAI colleagues, he has come to see his work here as not just a job, but a labor of love. For right now, it seems, he has found a home outside the geopolitical mainstream.
“This place just grows on you,” concludes Eduardo. “You may come here looking to fill a blank space on your resume, but once you’re here, you can be sure that AID FOR AIDS’ great cause will become your cause. That’s what happened to me.”