By Libby Rosequist
Emily Crofoot, 38, received recognition through the Erie Reader for her outstanding effort in providing access for HIV prevention.
Born and raised in North East and continuing her education at Mercyhurst University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in organizational leadership, she realized there is much work to be done to educate and reduce the stigma surrounding HIV.
“Looking back to what was provided at the time, I am seeing the importance of HIV education and the education of prevention, especially to youth ages 14-18, as it is very limited within the school setting,” Crofoot said. “A big part of my job is to speak with youth, as there are many misconceptions regarding HIV and STI’s, (STDs ?) both of which go hand-in-hand. Youth is one of the growing groups of newly infected that either aren’t aware of their status or are not compliant with care.”
She has always worked in the social services/nonprofit world and Crofoot is now supervisor of High Impact Prevention for Northwest Rural AIDS Alliance.
“Most of my career has been working with children and adults with autism,” Crofoot said. “When I began looking for a different career path, HIV education was never an area that I would have thought about pursuing. I was not educated at the time in HIV, but I took a chance and have fallen in love with the work I do. The more I learn about the disease and the stigma it still holds, the more I wanted to provide outreach and education to the communities.”
In addition to her work through Northwest Rural AIDS Alliance, Crofoot was asked to be a member of the Erie County HIV task force and the LGBTQ+ Advisory board to Erie Mayor Schember, making HIV education and testing accessible to all and advocating for equality.
It supports her vision of a more accepting and inclusive Erie.
“I joined the Erie County HIV Taskforce in efforts to work alongside with the Department of Health and other local organizations to raise awareness in Erie County,” Crofoot said. “The goal of the Advisory Board is to assist the mayor with the issues facing our LGBTQ+ family, friends and colleagues and providing insight and direction on ways to implement and identify projects or programs that will help the community become more accepting.
“As an open member of the LGBTQ+ community, along with my work in HIV, I accepted a spot on the board immediately.”
The HIV Taskforce has held events such as HIV testing at Erie Gay Pride, HIV Youth Testing Day, National HIV Testing Day and World AIDS Day.
Crofoot is determined and compassionate for all members of the community and won’t stop until she sees education and prevention become commonplace.
“I would like to see Erie as a more accepting, diverse and inclusive city, not just for those with HIV or the LGBTQ+ population, but from all walks of life,” Crofoot said. “It has come a long way, but so much more work needs to be done.”
It doesn’t stop there. Crofoot also has a love for her dogs, motorcycles, sunsets, Lake Erie, anything outdoors including golf.
Even with all of this under her belt, Crofoot still finds the time for her second job.
She runs a social skills group for adults with high functioning autism from ages 18 plus on Thursday nights through KaleidAScope Inc.
For more information about this group, the office can be called at 814-824-4515.