Rita R. McDaniel Long
Born in Washington D.C., Rita was brought up in Virginia where upon graduating from high school, she began her career in cosmetology. Although her career was fulfilling, she knew she needed to give back to her community.
In 2010, she began her journey of working in the field of HIV as co-chair, and then eventually as chairwoman for Duke Community’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) in Durham, North Carolina until 2013. She continued as an active member until the CAB was no longer operational in 2018. During the same timeframe, she was also a volunteer with Triangle Empowerment Center, a program developed for men of color who have sex with men( MSM) but the CAB made it their mission never to exclude anyone and to serve all populations that are at risk. In true form, Rita didn't stop there, she founded a support group called 'IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!’; a group for women of color that were living with HIV. Each person was able to support and help one another in terms of their personal stories and lived experiences– a true measure of sisterhood that proved invaluable to its members. She also celebrated one of her personal goals when she was able to speak about PReP to women during National HIV Women and Girls Day in 2018, an initiative near and dear to her heart. Currently, Rita is employed by North Carolina AIDS Action Network where she is a Community Organizer. She began as a volunteer before being hired full time in 2018. She is also on the UNC Care CAB Advisory Council. One of Rita’s proudest moments in her career was being recognized in POZ Magazine for an award she received in 2017.
The award, entitled Celebrating Women, recognized her for the selfless work she does for those living with HIV. Equally impressive, was her being the recipient of the Bridget Murtagh Award in 2012. In Rita’s words, “I hope that the work that I have done over the last 20 plus years and the work that I'm doing now speaks for itself.