The Board Spiritual was implemented in the mid 1990s. It was done to honor and celebrate the lives of the many COTT Directors who have passed into the spirit world as a result of the AIDS/blood epidemic. What the men and women of COTT call, the hemophilia holocaust. No disrespect meant to holocausts of the past, however, for us at COTT, the preventable deaths of three generations of persons with hemophilia in a decade, over 50 percent of the entire American hemophilia community, can only be termed a holocaust. The community has been physically, emotionally and economically devastated by this preventable nightmare that is the result of corporate avarice and indifference, government inaction and in general, silence from the medical community. The Board Spiritual is part of our commitment to never forgot our lost loved ones and to always celebrate their lives and our own, always remembering for COTT, Action=Life.
Jonathan Wadleigh, Founder
Jonathan was a successful businessman/builder who joined the public non-profit sector to shepherd COTT from 1989 through 1996 as the organization’s first President.
He worked like hand in glove with Tom Fahey, the other CO-Founder. Jonathan, the more political animal of the two, brought 1960s values and principles that were deeply influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and especially the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC. He brought the experience and the values associated with that experience to the founding of COTT. The ideal, in the model of Paulo Friere: A community, on the move, asserting control over its own destiny, transitioning from being the object of an oppressive structure/situation to being the subject of changing that situation. In essence being the agents of one's own change both individually and as a community.
A person with severe hemophilia, Jonathan passed away in 2008. His vision for COTT and the community is alive in the work of the Organization.
Tom Fahey, Founder
Tom Fahey was the other original co-Founder of the Committee of Ten Thousand. He and his partner Fran were integral members of the COTT team and the Board. Tom brought a clear and unwavering commitment to establishing community based social work in the hemophilia community; A grassroots approach to wellness and mental health in our community. That approach and commitment became and continues to be at the root of COTT's perspective and its initiatives and actions. The Fahey imprint remains an integral component of the Committee of Ten Thousand. Tom will always be sorely missed both within COTT and in the community at-large. He was the gentle bear of COTT and the core of our psycho-social programs and initiatives.
Tom was also a person with severe hemophilia, who also lived in the greater Boston area. Tom was a social worker who managed HIV/AIDS caseworkers. Tom was Treasurer and a Board member until 1997. Tom passed into the spirit world in 2002 from complications stemming from his HIV/hepatitis C co-infection. Tom Fahey Presente'
Greg joined COTT in the early 1990s and quickly became a leading HIV/AIDS treatment Activist in very short time frame. He also became the editor of COTT's Journal, The Common Factor, creating a leader in the global HIV/AIDS infected community. The Common Factor became a voice for people seeking justice for persons with HIV/AIDS. It also became a prime source for treatment information and activism. Greg was also a leading and influential member of COTT's Board of Directors. He also sat on an HIH advisory committee for clinical trials and spoke at many important national and international conferences about HIV/AIDS and living through the community's devastation from HIV/AIDS. In 1998 Greg left us and passed into the spirit world. Certainly his influence in COTT remains strong and his words continue to remain audible for those of us surviving the nightmare.
Leo Murphy came to COTT through his brother, Matt Murphy, one of the first to join Jonathan and Tom, and through his working in founding, COTTWEST with then COTT Vice-President, and now President, Corey Dubin. Leo, a hollywood Prop Master by trade, Leo was a tireless organizer in the Southern California hemophilia community. He spoke at events, conducted workshops and was a Peer Advocate for those infected with HIV/AIDS. he was a gentle and lovable human being who threw himself completely into the struggle for justice and accountability. he was active in the COTT Board and was another example of an active and empowered community member. In 1995 Leo passed into the spirit world; another loved brother, struck in his prime, by corporations and government who failed to protect the end users of blood products thereby taking the very lives of people like Leo Murphy. His mother, Mary Lou Murphy is currently COTT Co-Vice-President. Leo Murphy Presente'
Jim was an effective and well spoken member of the COTT Board. He, like many of the original members, was from the greater Boston area and was a person with hemophilia and HIV. Jim was a valued member and was very representative of the community-at-large. Jim was with us through some of the most difficult times and passed into the spirit world during the latter part of the mid 1990s. He was strong, yet also gentle and respectful. In COTT's world Jim was a human being. Jim Barrett Presente'
Phil Savoie was as grass roots an individual as you could find. We could not have created a better example of a grassroots community member appreciated by all who came into contact with him. Phil was a wonderful and vibrant human being whose commitment to the community was unwavering and tireless. He was one of those human beings who could reach out and impact others just by being himself. Honest, to the point, never circuitous or indirect, Phil always said just exactly what was on his mind. A critically valued member of the COTT Board and the Board Spiritual. Phil Savoie presente'
Tim Haas, the younger brother of Greg Haas, not only was a board member, he also provided the layout for the Common Factor, our quarterly journal during the 1990s. He brought the energy of youth combined with his experiences living with HIV and HCV to the table. Tim also provided the layout work for our communiques' and all other publications emanating from COTT. He is and will always be sorey missed by the COTT family. Tim was a strong and loving fellow, who also brought a sense of humor to the work combined with a strong work ethic. Tim Haas Presente'.
Rick Nagler is a person with severe hemophilia who most recently lived in Colorado. Originally from the D.C. area, Rick was an active and engaged community member throughout the 1990s and beyond. Rick worked on numerous community projects and initiatives and in 2001 became a member of the COTT Board. Unfortunately we lost Rick in 2006.
Tom Fahey and Jonathan Wadleigh were community leaders who shaped the original philosophy, structure and direction of the Committee of Ten Thousand. Jonathan and Tom ensured that COTT was rooted in the grass roots hemophilia community. They both viewed COTT as the grass roots community voice of the growing number of persons with hemophilia infected by the AIDS/blood epidemic, which was at the height of devastating the entire hemophilia community. Jonathan and Tom understood that through effective grassroots community organizing, the hemophilia community could begin to respond to this preventable nightmare.
COTT, under Jonathan and Tom’s direction emerged from the pain, loss and destruction of the AIDS/blood epidemic. It emerged within a community physically, emotionally and economically devastated by an infection rate of over 50 percent of the community by 1989 when COTT was founded in the Boston area. COTT was/is peopled by the very individuals and families struggling to cope with this real-life nightmare. A good example of this is both Fran Fahey and Joanne Wadleigh, the respective spouses of Tom and Jonathan, served lengthy terms as members of the COTT Board of Directors. They were community leaders and activists in their own right and together with their husbands were strong examples of the empowered hemophilia marriage/relationship.
Tom Fahey and Jonathan rooted their organizing efforts in the context of their favorite phrase; Action=Life. This quickly became the ethos of the Committee of Ten Thousand.
Jonathan and Tom also placed COTT within the larger context of the national and global HIV/AIDS pandemic, instilling the perspective that all persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS were important and that HIV/AIDS was and is a global human rights struggle.
They each brought the sum of their own history and perspective to the early COTT table. Tom, a child of the 1960s, brought community based, cooperative principles and values in the service of local support and advocacy, which was the structure of the early COTT. Tom also brought his lengthy experience in social work and psycho-social programs steeped in his commitment to community based and controlled programs and initiatives.
Early in COTT's existence the emerging synthesis between advocacy and support, Tom's side of the equation, and the political/social justice component, as articulated by Jonathan, provided one of the major sparks that lit the fire that was COTT in the 1990s. It is this synthesis that prepared and propelled COTT to the center of the AIDS/Blood Epidemic, what the men and women of COTT refer to as The Hemophilia Holocaust.
In the early days, Matt Murphy and Greg Haas joined Jonathan and Tom. The Murphy family, there at the beginning, remains active on the COTT Board through Mary Lou Murphy, current Co-Vice President. Mary Lou’s two sons, Matt and Leo Murphy were an integral part of the COTT family. Leo Murphy, who along with Corey Dubin from Santa Barbara California founded COTTWEST, joined the COTT Board of Directors in 1992. Greg Haas became the first Editor of the COTT quarterly journal, The Common Factor. From 1991 through the end of the decade Common Factor was one of the leading HIV/AIDS grassroots publications. In 1993 Richard Valdez, from the then-Michael-Rosenberg-led Peer Association, joined the COTT Board to facilitate a better working relationship between the two community organizations. Dick has certainly had an Impact on the actions and directions of the Committee of Ten Thousand. In 1993 COTT founded, along with other community based organizations, the Hemophilia Federation. The federation worked under the wing of COTT until 1995 when a growth related, full separation took place. In the spirit of organizational respect and boundaries Jan Hamilton resigned from the COTT Board while Corey Dubin, in turn, resigned from the Board of the Federation. COTT currently enjoys a good working relationship with the Hemophilia Federation.
COTT has survived the loss of nearly 60 percent of its Board of Directors during the height of the AIDS/blood epidemic during the mid 1990s. Many organizations would have been unable to sustain such losses and continue as a viable and effective community based agency. However through the perseverance of its Board and the people surviving, COTT has not only survived it is experiencing a second wind of growth and remains vibrant and representative of the grass roots hemophilia community. As we prepare to enter the second five years of the twenty-first century, you can still hear and feel the influence of Jonathan Wadleigh, Tom Fahey, and the voices of all those who passed into the spirit world, in the work and ethos of the Committee of Ten Thousand.