A Message from PWN-USA NYC Leaders
Co-Chair Rusti Miller-Hill
Criminal Justice and Health Advocate
Russelle Miller-Hill, affectionately known as Rusti, is a community advocate, motivational speaker and consultant on addiction, reentry, housing, correctional health and the needs of women impacted by these issues. Since she learned that she was HIV positive in 1991, Rusti, who is also in long-term recovery from addiction, has been a tireless community organizer and advocate for women who have no voice.
While incarcerated at Albion Correctional Facility in New York, Rusti was one of the earliest beneficiaries of the AIDS Counseling and Education program, a prison-based peer initiative, and became an ACE peer educator. She then went on to become the Deputy of Prison Programs at Path Stone Corporation as an advocate, providing transitional services, HIV testing and peer education. She also co-chaired the Correctional Association’s Women in Prison Project’s Conditions on the Inside Committee which in 2008 led advocacy to pass landmark New York State legislation to create oversight of NYS Correction’s HIV and Hepatitis C programs by the State Department of Health.
Rusti has been featured in a wide variety of publications, videos, and documentaries, including the New York Times, Ebony Magazine, POZ magazine, The House on Fire, Sisters Keepers and Rusti’s Story.
Elder Antionettea Etienne
Elder Antionettea Etienne is one of the pioneers of HIV education, prevention and care within New York City. She is an Afro-Caribbean-Latina woman who has fought for women’s rights for decades. When we talk about “grassroots,” we look back at Antionettea known affectionately as “Dreadie” in the streets. She walked into crack houses and shooting dens to get her communities tested for HIV/AIDS and also to get them into Recovery & Treatment. We remember when she was at Bedford Hills Correctional in 1989 fighting for services for women living with AIDS. She fought the system because condoms weren’t allowed, and she cradled her sisters in her arms when they died. Antionettea and her peers formed support groups and insisted that the Department of Corrections implement discharge and transitional planning to assist women that had no one upon their release.
Elder Antionettea Etienne has been instrumental in designing and implementing various HIV/AIDS prevention workshops and support groups for prisons and jails, homeless shelters, churches, NYC residents, people living with HIV, Dept. of Health, Dept. of Corrections, Dept. of Education and numerous CBO/ASOs, just to name a few.
Elder Antionettea Etienne has advocated and provided case management services to ensure that HIV positive individuals and their family members receive all of the entitlements that they are due. She gives clients and their families peace of mind in dealing with this pandemic. Elder Antionettea Etienne has done pre/post test counseling, testing and education, and referred all who come in contact with her for any services that they may need. Elder Antionettea Etienne has dedicated her life to being available all hours of the day and night to do outreach, support and educate all who have crossed her path. People have called her at all hours of the night and if need be, she has gotten up to assist, say a prayer or simply listen.
Elder Antionettea has been and continues to be a strong advocate in NYC streets. She was a member of the New York City Planning Council, New York State Prevention Planning Group, former member of NYC Planning Group, former chairperson of Riker’s Island Advisory Board & Consortium. Elder Antionettea Etienne is currently the Elder of Health & Wellness for Love Alive International Sanctuary of Praise Church in Manhattan. Elder Antionettea Etienne is currently employed with Iris House and she effortlessly continues to be a strong advocate/health educator and test counselor.