Action Wellness executive director is set to retire this year
Kevin Burns, who has worked at Action Wellness for almost 35 years, will retire this June.
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The retirement of Action Wellness’ longtime executive director, Kevin Burns, will be happening during this year’s Pride Month.
Action Wellness, then known as ActionAIDS, was established in 1986 to “provide services to people with AIDS.”
Burns got involved with the organization that same year through his work as a volunteer buddy with what is now Mazzoni Center, but at the time it was known as Philadelphia Community Health Alternatives.
Burns worked his way up from Case Manager to Executive Director over the course of 16 years. He became Executive Director in 2005.
“No matter what position he had at the agency, you could tell it was really his passion — that he really cared about people’s welfare, people getting the services they needed, and filling gaps for unmet needs,” said Beth Hagan, deputy executive director of Action Wellness, to Philadelphia Gay News.
He previously worked as a Social Work Adjunct Professor at his alma mater, Rutgers University.
Burns earned a Master of Social Work from Rutgers and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from DeSales University.
“I’m very proud and humbled to have played a small part in getting us to the place where HIV is a manageable disease,” Burns told Philadelphia Gay News.
He continued, “I think about the early clients that I worked with, when we were essentially doing hospice work and making sure that people had what they needed to die with dignity. It’s so different today, thankfully. To feel like I played a small part in getting us to that point is the thing I’m most proud of.”
He was awarded the Fierce and Fabulous Award at the recent AIDS Fund’s Black Tie GayBingo for his work with HIV care. The event raises money for HIV awareness in the Philadelphia area and HIV/AIDS emergency financial assistance.
Robb Reichard, executive director of AIDS Fund, said of Burns, “I think that Kevin really approaches his work in a very collaborative way. In working with other service providers, [he put] clients first in every equation.”
According to other reports, Burns is thinking of doing volunteer work with political candidates who advocate for the LGBTQ+ community or going back to teaching upon his retirement.
Burns told the Courier Post, “It was nice to feel like you were helping prepare young social workers for what was ahead of them. So that may be something I revisit after I get a year or so off.”