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What is a coalition?

In simplest terms, a coalition is a group of individuals and/or organizations with a common interest who agree to work together toward a common goal. That goal could be as narrow as obtaining funding for a specific intervention, or as broad as trying to improve permanently the overall quality of life for most people in the community. By the same token, the individuals and organizations involved might be drawn from a narrow area of interest, or might include representatives of nearly every segment of the community, depending upon the breadth of the issue.

Coalitions may be loose associations in which members work for a short time to achieve a specific goal, and then disband. They may also become organizations in themselves, with governing bodies, particular community responsibilities, funding, and permanence. They may draw from a community, a region, a state, or even the nation as a whole (the National Coalition to Ban Handguns, for instance). Regardless of their size and structure, they exist to create and/or support efforts to reach a particular set of goals.

The goal of the ZIP Coalitions is specifically to end the epidemics of HIV and HCV in Indiana. This is done by bringing each stakeholder  together to identify the needs of people in each coalition area. Then, the coalitions move to action to build a system of supports and services to address those needs. This can be done when the stakeholders all

  • align their resources, 

  • work in collaboration and 

  • share best practices, experiences, and resources 

in order to end the HIV epidemic and eliminate Hepatitis C (HCV) in Indiana.​

What are ZIP Coalitions?

ZIP Coalitions are a coordinated, community-based approach to identifying needs, building a system of supports and services to address those needs, and collectively monitoring progress and working together to strengthen the system to meet the needs of all community members. They are responsible for leading regional efforts to end the HIV epidemic and eliminate HCV in Indiana, which includes engaging diverse partners, especially PWLE, and using data and information to set priorities and act strategically.

How are ZIP Coalitions Structured?


ZIP Coalitions are formed based on Sherry Arnstein's Ladder of Community Participation where community stakeholders, including People with Lived Experience (PWLE) generate their goals and strategies to achieve them. The goal of the Zip Coalition structures is that  at all times we work in the top rungs of the ladder, within the area of Citizen Power.

Zero is Possible: Indiana’s Plan to End HIV and Hepatitis C (ZIP-IN Plan) represents a collaborative
effort, informed by healthcare and community partners across the state, and is aligned with the
national Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) and the Viral Hepatitis National
Strategic Plan for the United States: A Roadmap for Elimination, 2021-2025. The ZIP-IN Plan
presents an approach to collectively address HIV and HCV, due to the shared high-risk
populations, barriers to treatment, healthcare providers and community support networks, and
opportunities to develop a comprehensive, whole-person approach to patient care, counseling,
and treatment. The strategies within the 

ZIP-IN Plan were developed in consultation with a wide array of healthcare providers, community partners, and people with lived experience, who participated in listening sessions, focus groups, surveys, and technical workgroups over a
research and planning period spanning more than a year. 

Why a coalition?

At this point, you might be wondering why the ZIP-IN initiative was created as coalitions. After all, it sounds complicated! 


The reason why is simple: the best way to change a community is to empower and excite community members to make that change. If we really want to end the HIV epidemic and eliminate Hepatitis C (HCV) in Indiana (and we do) we must mobilize passionate individuals and coordinate as a community to meet our goals. 


Successful coalitions will help:

  • Bring about the changes members want to see. The collective voice of many people working together on a problem is usually much more powerful than a single voice.

  • Empower PWLE, especially those who haven't traditionally had much power. Improving the conditions which shape their lives can increase people's sense of their own worth and capabilities, helping them to live more fulfilling lives.

  • Increase self-sufficiency among community members. Organizing people to bring about change helps maintain a high level of ownership by people for their own destinies.

  • Increase social support. By bringing together diverse groups of people who are working for the same cause, people get the chance to talk and learn with others they may not have met otherwise. Both professionally and socially, community organization offers ample opportunity for growth and enjoyment among those who come together.

  • Promote equity in the society.  When people gain control over the forces that shape their lives, it changes the balance of power in the community, spreading it more broadly and distributing it more nearly equally.  That, in turn, changes for the better the circumstances of those with the least power, making for a more just society.

The ZIP Coalition model is a promising strategy for building the capacity of traditional and newly engaged partners to lead HIV/HCV elimination efforts in their community. The stronger the ZIP Coalition is, the more impactful their work will be. At a minimum, ZIP Coalition leadership involves organizing meetings, follow-up, documentation, and logistics, which require staff time. Additionally, ZIP Coalitions must have the capacity to facilitate meetings, track progress toward goals, prepare materials and reports, and communicate with stakeholders and partners. Each region has different capacity levels to confidently tackle the range of expectations and activities. Currently, ZIP Coalitions receive financial support from the IDOH designed to offset costs associated with coalition management as well as technical assistance from partners including The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis and the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC).

Power in People

ZIP Coalitions are driven by individuals and organizations committed to working together to end the HIV epidemic and eliminate HCV, and to support optimal quality of life for people living with HIV/HCV. Each coalition is led by a small team of passionate, strategic, community leaders. Ideally, this team of three to five people represents a variety of sectors, interests, and communities.


The work of engaging stakeholders to collectively identify and meet the needs of populations served requires a dynamic, strategic, and collaborative approach. ZIP Coalitions work together to establish a shared understanding of key issues, and to develop a leadership and management framework that supports and directs their work together.

ZIP Coalitions meet at least quarterly but may meet more frequently if they choose. Agendas are developed in advance and include:

  • Data review, interpretation, and discussion in the context of change from previous quarters – (IDOH provides quarterly community- and agency-level data reports)

  • Identification of emerging opportunities and challenges

  • Strategy adjustments such as identifying and recruiting additional partners, collaborating to provide programs and services, and identifying additional data or information to be collected and reported back to the group

Additionally, agendas are sometimes enhanced with the following:

  • Educational presentations on best practices, latest trends, etc.

  • Partner updates and success stories

  • Workgroup presentations or breakout discussions

  • Assessment, planning, and/or evaluation activities

Engaging ZIP Coalition Coaches

In 2023, five ZIP Coalition Coaches began supporting the work of regional ZIP Coalitions to engage people with lived experience in regional efforts to end HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) in their communities. Coaches were engaged because our current systems do not ensure equal access to services and programs that diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond to HIV and HCV. In addition to having personal experience with HIV and/or HCV, the coaches have experience with coaching, community organizing, coalition or community building, and/or advocacy.

Coaches collaborate with ZIP Coalition leadership teams to ensure that people living with HIV and/or HCV and people from historically and systematically marginalized communities are meaningfully engaged in coalition work. Coaches help the Coalitions create a welcoming environment for PWLE and provide encouragement and connection to tools, resources, and strategies for reaching into the community to invite people to the table.

Meet the Coaches!

Greg Coulter 

Living with HIV for a decade has given me profound insights into the challenges many face while living with HIV. One part of this is witnessing people's need for community. I am excited to be a ZIP IN Coach because it helps me help my community: with our shared goal of bringing more people with lived experience to the table, we are helping to build community. By guiding coalitions to include these voices, we are empowering people with lived experience. Strength rises from empowerment.

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Don George

I believe that my life experiences will provide a solid, diverse foundation of coaching, team building, and working collectively as a unit.

I have been involved in community organizing, political campaigns on all levels, and growing and mentoring community-based teams in three different states, over twenty-plus years, educating the public about safer sex, HIV, AIDS, and Hep C.

I have been HIV positive for thirty-five years this past May. During that time I have witnessed several approaches to fostering community involvement and recruiting, training, and retaining teams and leaders; Some good and others not so good.

I hope that I can share, and draw from my life experience as well as learn from others with similar backgrounds in developing an effective team to combat HIV and Hep-C here in Indiana and reach our goal of "Zero Is Possible".

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Shelby Royster

I want to be a ZIP IN Coach because I want to empower those with lived experience, coalition leaders, and members through thought-partnership to create sustainable change. Throughout my roles in public health, DEIB , and HIV advocacy, I have deepened my passion for health equity and have learned that building culturally competent, diverse, and community-connected teams is the key to achieving better health outcomes. My goal is to bridge the gap between organizations with resources and the community in need, facilitating meaningful engagement and lasting impact.

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Marcel Webb

I want to be a ZIP-IN Coach because I am a person with lived experience and know some of our needs. I care about us infected and those who are at risk in becoming positive. I want to be the voice crying in the wilderness bring attention support and an end to stigma and awareness to the unaware by education. I have 7 years as a peer supporter, and 2 1/2 years as a Linkage to care coordinator and 32 years of Sobriety. As a Zip-IN Coach I will be able to partner with community stakeholders and build relationships in the community and provide education regarding HIV treatment. In the past I was able to establish an HIV ministry in the city of Buckeye, AZ, a rural community in Arizona.

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