Creativity and Crisis

The NAMES Project Foundation Co-Founders
Cleve Jones, AIDS Memorial Quilt Founder, San Francisco, California
Cleve Jones first conceived of The AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1987 after a candlelight vigil for assassinated gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk. Jones interned for Milk while studying political science at San Francisco State University and worked as a legislative consultant in Sacramento after Milk’s death. Jones later served three terms on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, as well as local and state commissions for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, and the Mission Mental Health Community Advisory Board. One of the first people to recognize the threat of AIDS, he co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983. Jones is a lecturer and author of Stitching a Revolution, which documents The Quilt’s creation. He created the first Quilt panel in 1987 for his close friend, Marvin Feldman.

Mike Smith, The NAMES Project Foundation Co-Founder, San Francisco, California
Mike Smith, along with Cleve Jones, co-founded The NAMES Project Foundation in June 1987. The idea originated when the two organized friends and strangers at a storefront on Market Street in the Castro District of San Francisco. Those present had gathered to mourn the loss of loved ones who had died of AIDS, and to bring to national attention the devastating effects of the virus by making and collecting memorial quilt panels to show the staggering numbers of people who lost their battle to AIDS. Those panels would soon be the foundation of The AIDS Memorial Quilt. Smith is currently the executive director of the AIDS Emergency Fund and Breast Cancer Emergency Fund



Gert McMullin, Quilt Production Manager, Panel Maker, Atlanta, Georgia
From San Francisco, Gert McMullin is one of the original volunteers with The AIDS Memorial Quilt. McMullin became involved with The Quilt when many of her friends died in the early 1980s. She is currently The Quilt production manager and oversees all repairs and sewing jobs on The Quilt. She is considered “Keeper of the Quilt.”

Drew Cockrell, Panel-Making Assistant, Atlanta, Georgia
Drew Cockrell produced some of the first dances that raised money for AIDS and currently helps to plan AIDS fundraising events. For many years, he has been working with dances and parades that feature the art of flagging–spinning colorful weighted flags in each hand in circular movements.

Karl Gustafson, Panel-Making Assistant, Atlanta, Georgia
Karl Gustafson has worked with The NAMES Project Foundation and with The Quilt for many years. He currently places the walkways, lays down Quilt patches, unfolds, and re-folds Quilt sections for display.

Ray Kinlock, Panel Maker, Hand Maiden/Quilt Repairer, Solebury, Pennsylvania
Ray Kinlock first started working with The Quilt shortly after its inauguration. He became a Quilt coordinator in the 1990s, making site visits for Quilt displays as part of the original core group of organizers nicknamed the “Grateful Threads.” Ray was drawn to The Quilt while working with the Colorado AIDS Project for people in the final stages of HIV/AIDS. He has created several panels, helped lead panel-making workshops, and is a “hand maiden” of The Quilt.

Jon Lopez, Panel Maker, Hand Maiden/Quilt Repairer, Palm Springs, California
Jon Lopez began working with The Quilt after creating a panel for his partner. “It’s special, it really is,” Lopez says of The Quilt. He continued to help with The Quilt’s display in the late 1990s and visited the most recent display on the National Mall in 2004. Lopez is currently working as a “hand maiden” of The Quilt, and will contribute several more panels for this year’s Festival.

Father Joseph “Rick” McCormack, Hand Maiden/Quilt Repairer, Springfield, Missouri
Rick McCormack works with the Healing Quilt Project of the Ozarks, organizing workshops to make panels for those lost to illness or misfortune. “I cease to be amazed at what a piece of material will do,” McCormack says of the pieces produced. McCormack was diagnosed with HIV in 1984, and has been living with AIDS since 1996. He started volunteering with The NAMES Project Foundation in the late 1980s, helping with Quilt displays as well as offering emotional support. McCormack speaks about HIV/AIDS across the country and is training to become an ordained priest.

Audrey Muldoon, Hand Maiden/Quilt Repairer, Peachtree City, Georgia
Audrey Muldoon volunteers twice a week with The NAMES Project Foundation, working as a “hand maiden” of The Quilt. Muldoon began work with The Quilt in March of 2011, when her daughter participated in a community service project with The Quilt.

Larry Pellino, Panel Maker, Avondale East, Georgia
Larry Pellino moved to San Francisco in 1989 where he witnessed far too many friends die of AIDS. He considers himself an AIDS survivor, even though he has never contracted HIV. During his years in San Francisco, he made three panels for The Quilt. Pellino has volunteered with The NAMES Project Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, for almost ten years and has also participated in genetic research pertaining to HIV/AIDS.