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Apr 12 2023

A Name to Remember: Honoring Gregory L. Manifold’s Legacy of Service

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With the inauguration of our annual Gregory L. Manifold Food Pantry Fundraising Campaign this month, we thought it was time to reflect back on the former executive director of our agency. For more than a decade, Gregory L. Manifold led what was then known as the AIDS Task Force. His commitment and passion to the community and those living with HIV made him a stellar director and obvious namesake for the client food pantry.

From Farmland to the Big City

Growing up with a Methodist minister as a father, Gregory was no stranger to frequent relocating. While his family stayed in the northeast Indiana area throughout his childhood, he was often changing schools and making new friends. “It taught me to adjust to new situations,” remembered Manifold.

With tepid plans to follow in his father’s ministry footsteps, Gregory received an undergraduate degree in religious studies at DePauw University. Upon graduation, he was still questioning whether a life in ministry would allow him to live a full authentic life. Wanting to experience more, Gregory began work on an Illinois farm while pursuing a master’s degree in English Literature. “I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the degree, I just loved to learn and read and write.”

Gregory Manifold smiling and standing in front of a red truck

Discovering a Passion for Community

Eventually, Gregory made the move to Fort Wayne in 1980 and landed himself a job as managing director of Historic Fort Wayne. It would be his first stint in the nonprofit industry, but certainly not his last. Before making his way to the AIDS Task Force, he would also serve as director of marketing for Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, and director of development at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. When asked where his passion for the nonprofit industry comes from, Gregory said, “There’s something about working for a cause that an entire community has deemed important.”

Gregory’s first connection to the AIDS Task Force started in 1987 when he was commissioned by the agency to write an AIDS awareness play. The production would take place at IPFW as part of the citywide AIDS Awareness Week. From there, Gregory began attending the agency’s annual Dinner Dance fundraising benefit. “I’ve been to every Dinner Dance except the first one.” It would be nearly a decade later before he became the director of the AIDS Task Force.

Becoming Executive Director of the AIDS Task Force

In 1998, Gregory was made aware of an open position at the AIDS Task Force. After focusing his nonprofit career on the arts community, he was apprehensive about making the switch to HIV/AIDS. The AIDS Task Force had been struggling to keep the role filled, having three directors come and go in two years. Waiting until the last minute, Gregory finally applied and his proficient work experience made him the best candidate to stabilize the agency’s staff and repair its public image.

Over the next 14 years as executive director, Manifold led the agency and his team through myriad changes, growth and achievements. Among the many highlights is the agency’s move from its small office on Fairfield (Gregory compared it to a “dank dungeon”) to its current location on Oxford Street. Gregory remembers witnessing the staff “brightening up” after the change in scenery.

The move to Oxford Street also allowed the agency to form a designated client pantry. Before then, there was no official program. Clients occasionally received food and household items whenever there were donations. Once they had the space, the agency began purchasing items to keep the pantry stocked and requested and received more in-kind donations from the community.

Also during his tenure as director, the agency celebrated its 25th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, Gregory took on what he deemed a “personal love project” funded by a grant from the Foellinger Foundation: recording the recollections of the founders, volunteers and witnesses of the AIDS Task Force from its inaugural years, 1985-1987. Gregory himself compiled the stories and wrote the 91-page book to honor the inception of the Task Force. Everyone was happy to be a part of it. “Nobody turned me down,” said Gregory. The book even includes a comprehensive timeline of the agency’s history through the year 2010.

When asked what he loved most about being executive director of the AIDS Task Force, Manifold acknowledged the clients. “Meeting their needs and making people’s lives better was our highest accomplishment.” He also recognized his incredible team. “They were such dedicated people, went beyond what was expected again and again,” he said. “I was in awe of them.”

Gregory and late husband Terry stand side by side and smile for the camera

Leaving a Legacy

Gregory L. Manifold announced his plans for early retirement at the end of 2011 after being the director of the AIDS Task Force for nearly 14 successful years. It was at his retirement party in early 2012 that it was revealed the client pantry would inherit a name: the Gregory L. Manifold Food Pantry. Gregory was completely surprised and remains honored to this day.

Manifold remains a loyal advocate of the Positive Resource Connection (PRC). Having made annual donations to the organization since his departure, he is proud of the agency’s progression and where it currently stands. Reflecting on his past and continued involvement with the PRC, “I consider it a great gift to me.”

Today, Gregory lives on Fort Wayne’s beautiful south side, formerly with his late husband and loving partner of 31 years, Terrance McCaffrey. Moving forward, he plans to stay active in the community and looks forward to attending his thirty-fourth Dinner Dance (now known as Soirée) this October.

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