Recent Comments


    Profiles of Compassion and Courage: Joe Seiler

    stuJoe Seiler is best known as board chair of The Richmond Ermet Aids Foundation, which has raised many millions for local AIDS charities by producing Broadway caliber cabaret shows. You likely have seen Seiler with his partner of 31 years, Ken Henderson, who shares the work producing “Help Is on the Way” and “One Night Only” events. Together, they have contributed countless memorable evenings and fundraising dollars to our community.

    SS: How did you become involved in your work?

    JS: I became involved in fundraising as a teenager when I raised funds back in New York for Muscular Dystrophy. As youth chair for the organization on Staten Island, I helped organize a group of friends who collected funds by begging for coins in front of shopping centers and then multiplied the money by putting on plays and donating the expanded funds to the charity. Many years later, while living in San Francisco, our good friends Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet approached my partner Ken Henderson and myself to help put on a show to honor their sons’ John and Doug’s memories and to raise funds for Coming Home Hospice. It was ironic, because little did we know it at the time that this was the start of the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation— with me doing a similar thing that I did as a teenager. We are proud that REAF will be celebrating its 20th year anniversary next year. Its volunteers have now raised millions for local AIDS service organizations.

    SS: Who have been your key mentors?

    JS: My key mentor was Doug Ermet. Doug and I worked together at Macy’s San Francisco in the training department. Doug was in charge of employee communications and I managed the training for the San Francisco store. Doug was an amazing guy. He was the kind of guy who had excellent skills, and helped me by building my confidence as a trainer and as a person. He was always there helping me, and countless others, reach their potential. He inspired me to use my creativity and to trust myself. He never asked for anything in return, and was very humble about his gifts. Doug also introduced me to the San Francisco cabaret scene, and to the amazing late singer Nancy LaMott, who performed in the very first “Help Is on the Way” benefit honoring Doug’s memory.


    Joe Seiler

    SS: If you could solve or fix a community problem, what would it be?

    JS: One major problem in our community today that I see recently is the poor message that many of the adult porn sites are giving our youth by literally promoting unprotected sex.

    SS: What achievement are you most proud of?

    JS: One achievement I am most proud of is my relationship with my partner Ken Henderson. While no relationship is perfect, I am very grateful to have him as life partner for the last 31 years. I am also proud that we have been able to give back to the community through the work of The Richmond Ermet Aids Foundation.

    SS: What are your goals for the

    JS: My goal for the future is to continue to work on myself, gain heightened understanding, and to look for opportunities to help others meet their potential.

    Stu Smith is board chair emeritus of Shanti Project, board chair of The Paratransit Coordinating Council, a member of the Castro Country Club Advisory Board and the LGBT Senior Task Force, and producer and host of the public access TV program “The Drag Show.” KQED has honored Stu as a 2013 LGBT Hero.