Mike Smith, MBA ’86: “This Is the Second Pandemic of My Life”

An original AIDS activist finds new meaning as he pivots from making quilts to COVID-19 masks for marginalized communities.

June 17, 2020

Mike Smith found purpose after graduating from Stanford GSB in 1986 and moving to San Francisco at the height of the AIDS pandemic. Surrounded by loss, including the death of a classmate, he and some friends came up with the idea for the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

In October 1987, they hoped to make a brief and nonthreatening statement to a polarized country by displaying the massive memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But the quilt’s emotional impact and endearing legacy surprised even them, and Smith has made it his life’s work. Now he and his team have shifted their attention to a pandemic of a different sort.

— Steve Goldbloom

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