Three vacancies were created on the Affirmation Board as Yvette Zobel, Judy Finch and Jamison Manwaring ended their terms at the close of 2015. Laura Skaggs Dulin, a therapist who specializes in multi-cultural contexts, Bill Evans, formerly of LDS Church Public Affairs, and Justis Tuia, an activist and diversity consultant, have become the newest members of the Affirmation Board.
The role of the Board of Directors is to ensure that Affirmation stays true to its mission and charter, to help Affirmation access resources and stay financially stable, and to foster mission-critical connections between Affirmation and other organizations and individuals in the larger LGBT, LDS and allied communities.
“Laura, Bill and Justis bring skills, connections and perspectives I believe are essential for Affirmation to effectively serve LGBT Mormons, their families and friends throughout the world at this particularly critical and painful moment in the history of relations between LGBT people and the LDS Church,” said John Gustav-Wrathall, president of Affirmation.
“Laura brings a wealth of skills and understanding to help us as a community more effectively heal the trauma so many have experienced as a result of homophobia and transphobia in the LDS community, including in the wake of recent events surrounding the new LDS Church policy on gay families. She has long been constructively involved in the public dialog about LGBT Mormon issues through the Forefront Talks and the “Out in Zion” podcasts.
“Bill served in the Public Affairs department of the LDS Church for decades, and through his work to bring into being the Salt Lake anti-discrimination ordinance has grown into an extraordinary ally of the LGBT Mormon community.
“Finally, Justis has a deep understanding of the challenges many organizations face in terms of institutionalized sexism, racism and other ‘-isms’. Affirmation has struggled to be more balanced in terms of gender and more fully inclusive of people of color, and trans, non-binary and bi folks. Justis has knowledge, experience and skills that we need now more than ever.”
“I stumbled upon the Washington, DC Chapter of Affirmation nearly a decade ago,” said Justis Tuia, “and it played a pivotal role in helping me to recognize that my self-worth is independent of any particular aspect of my identity. I am honored to stand with many of the spiritual giants of our movement to proclaim that identity is an ongoing conversation of which we are an integral part, and to empower individuals to become active participants in this conversation.”
Like most straight allies of the LGBT Mormon community, Bill Evans describes a journey to allyship through personal relationships. When Bill began his collaboration with LGBT activists to develop and promote a new civil rights ordinance in Salt Lake, he was astonished by the graciousness of those activists toward him even after acknowledging his role in the LDS Church’s Prop 8 campaign. Shortly thereafter, Bill was instrumental in opening up a dialog between Affirmation and the LDS Church, and was moved by the desire of the Affirmation leadership to foster a positive relationship. Since his retirement from Church Public Affairs, Bill has been involved in an initiative to help homeless youth in Utah. ”The grace and openness consistently shown me by members of the LGBT community were part of a transformative journey for me. I am grateful for and honored by this invitation to enter into deeper service with that community on the Board of Affirmation.”
Laura Skaggs Dulin said, “I join the board with a sober and disquieting awareness that the LDS community continues to be a frequently painful and distressing place for many LGBT/SSA Mormons. The mere disclosure of having a minority sexual orientation in our community still comes with myriad risks, while remaining in the isolation of the closet can just as often take a tremendous psychological toll. As members of the Latter-day Saint community, we still have before us the important work of fostering a culture that consistently empowers the agency of LGBT/SSA people among us.”