Affirmation's international efforts are led by a volunteer executive committee and board of directors with the president of Affirmation being elected every two years by Affirmation's members.
Nathan R. Kitchen
Elected as Affirmation President in 2018, Nathan Kitchen (he/him/his) grew up in Orem, Utah. When he was 15, he moved to Illinois and finished high school. He served a two-year mission in Alabama, where on a lonely Tuscaloosa country road, he had a tooth knocked out during a head-on collision. The dentist who saved his tooth was so cool that Nathan decided right then and there to become one himself. He received his BS from BYU Provo and a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Southern Illinois University.
After a residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, he moved to Arizona and opened his private practice in Mesa. Nathan is the proud father of five remarkable children who are the pride and joy of his life. When Nathan was 17 he came out to his bishop and, as was all too common in the 1980s, was counseled to ignore his sexuality, tell no one, get married, and things would turn out okay. Over the years Nathan served faithfully in the church, twice as a counselor in ward bishoprics, as stake young men’s president, and on the high council until the lack of authenticity slowly created a dangerous collapsing shell of a man.
Realizing the path to self-care and healing for all involved was to abandon the counsel of the 80s, he came out to himself, spouse, brothers, sisters, parents, children, friends, and staff. Much was lost, including his marriage of 23 years. But much was gained. Nathan is the co-founder of Fathers in Affirmation, Affirmation’s GBTQIA/SSA father’s group. In 2015 he spoke out nationally in print and television media highlighting the devastating ramifications of the November 5th exclusion policy on his children and LGB Mormons worldwide.
As a speaker, he opened the 2018 annual ALL Arizona conference exploring the lifesaving issue of identifying supportive communities as an LGBTQ Mormon. As a writer, he is a permablogger at Out of Obscurity (outofobscurity.org) where he regularly explores issues we grapple with as a community of LGBTQ Mormons.
Laurie Lee Hall
Laurie Lee Hall was raised in New England and was trained in architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York. A practicing architect for over thirty years in New York and Utah, her career has included managing worldwide construction programs and many of the largest projects of the LDS Church. Today she is in private practice in Salt Lake City, UT. Ms. Hall also served the LDS Church in several prominent leadership capacities ecclesiastically but has recently been excommunicated from the church. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Affirmation LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends, an administrator of the TransActiveLDS Facebook Support Group, and founder of the Families and Gender Variance Project As a transgender woman, she has powerful life experience with family communication, stages of grieving and mindfulness. She has worked within her own family and with many other transgender youth and adults to navigate the challenges and triumphs of living authentically. This passion has developed into a program at Encircle House in Provo, UT, for gender variant youth and their families. Laurie’s focus is to help families remain viable and successful, to foster dialog, listening, and respect. She has blogged and written extensively on the subjects of gender variance and marriage and the intersection of gender and faith traditions. She is the parent of five children and 12 grandchildren.
Jairo Fernando González Díaz
The family of Jairo Fernando González Díaz was among the first LDS converts in Colombia, hence the unusual trajectory of an active Mormon since boyhood in a conservative and Catholic society where Mormonism was barely known. The mission he served in different cities of Colombia, accentuated his leadership skills and his religious convictions.
His professional training included a professional degree from the Colombian Polytechnic, as well as the development of his expertise as an auditor in renowned law firms such as Price Waterhouse Coopers and Nexia International. In the latter, his performance included the assembly of a conceptual technical structure that is still in use today. In more recent times, he established himself as a Founding Partner of Infinity, an accounting and consulting firm that develops its activities in important companies in western Colombia and Ecuador.
Board of Directors
Bill Evans was an employee in the LDS Church Public Affairs Department for more than 30 years. He was assigned in 2008 to work on the Church’s Prop 8 campaign in California. In 2009, he and colleagues in Public Affairs were authorized to accept an invitation from local LGBT community leaders to begin meeting. As a result of these meetings, genuine friendships developed. Later that year, the Church endorsed passage of Salt Lake City’s anti-discrimination housing and employment ordinances. In 2012, Affirmation leaders reached out to Church Public Affairs, and Bill played a role in setting up a dialogue that has continued to the present day. Since his retirement in 2013, Bill has devoted time to the problem of homelessness, including an emerging outreach to off-the-grid homeless youth in Utah.
She is a Brumado girl in Bahia, Brazil, and is 40 years old. She is the oldest of five siblings, she is married to her wife Viviane Moraes, lives in San Bernardo del Campo – São Paulo. She is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, served as counselor of the Relief Society and Youth leader. She served on a full-time mission from 1998 to 1999, serving honestly in the Porto Alegre Sur and Santa Maria – Rio Grande do Sul – Brazil missions.
She has said: “To serve in the work with LGBT Mormon Affirmation, it is much more than executing a job, it is to rescue the children of God from the state of despair that many fall. It is to show these children of God that the atonement of Jesus Christ is also for them”.
Ron Raynes deeply loves his mixed faith, mixed orientation family. He and wife Sue managed to come out of the closet together during the last ten years. They are proud parents of three beautiful grown-up daughters.
Six years ago, Ron and Sue joined Affirmation, and two years later founded Affirmation’s affinity group MOFIA (Mixed Orientation Families In Affirmation) which caters to a spectrum of people impacted by mixed orientation marriage in their family life. Ron serves on Affirmation’s Board of Directors and was recently asked to be an area president for the U.S. and Canada, where he is working to establish local chapters across the country.
Ron joined the LDS Church at age 18 and served an LDS mission in California. He did all the things a good Mormon boy should do, like getting married… but way back in 1981 he wasn’t willing to identify as anything close to being gay. It took a few decades to figure that stuff out, and he’s still working to fit all the pieces into his gay life puzzle. Both Ron and Sue experienced a faith transition to less orthodox spaces since the LDS Church instituted its exclusion policy towards LGBTQ families in 2015. They no longer regularly attend the LDS Church, opting to participate as “Mormon Refugees” in a more inclusive congregation at the Community of Christ.
Ron lives and works as a food scientist in Eugene, Oregon, and does what many people can only dream of…he invents new flavors for Alden’s Organic ice cream! In his spare time, Ron enjoys gardening, hiking, writing, doing art and singing Tenor in the Eugene Concert Choir.
Llewynn Roberts grew up on a farm in Preston, Idaho as the third of six children. They first came out as gay as a junior in high school, and again as transgender and nonbinary during their second year of college. They were an active member of the LDS Church until the age of 12, and officially resigned at the age of 18.
Llewynn currently studies sociology at Utah State University and hopes to use the knowledge and skills they gain to work with queer youth in the future. They have contributed to Affirmation in a variety of ways, including as a speaker, a youth leader, and organizing a clothing/accessory drive for trans attendees of the annual international conference.
Randall Thacker grew up in Taylorsville, Utah, the youngest of three children. He recognized his attraction to the same sex when he was about 8 years old. He grew up focusing prayers, fasts, and birthday candle wishes on removing this attraction. Not long after returning from a Spanish-Speaking mission to North Carolina, he reached out for help to his BYU bishop who referred him to counseling. The counseling focused on changing Randall’s orientation because he longed to create an ideal Mormon family with many children.
After graduating from BYU with a B.A. in History, Randall moved to Salt Lake City, where after falling in love with a straight friend, he returned to reparative therapy and began attending group therapy as well. Luckily, one of the group therapists introduced Randall to the possibility of self-acceptance. Randall’s journey of self-acceptance was a long one though, which included a moment of great despair shortly after moving to Washington, DC in 2002. Thanks to compassionate friends and family and a new understanding that he could separate God from emotionally harmful doctrine, Randall moved on.
After almost ten years of studying and visiting other faiths and at times none at all, Randall returned to regular attendance at his local LDS ward in 2011, embraced by ward leaders who are welcoming and affirming. “I know that God and spirituality are broader than just the LDS church, yet I also have a testimony of the Restoration and feel the Spirit guiding me to walk my journey of spiritual growth as a Latter-Day Saint.”
Besides his work with Affirmation, Randall is passionate about improving education in Mexico and loves his work as a management consultant and leadership coach, helping individuals and organizations reach their potential. He enjoys rowing, bicycling, running, skiing, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Justis serves as the Program Manager of both the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and the Statewide Family Engagement Centers Program at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). In these roles, he oversees a portion of the Department’s work in the areas of school choice and family engagement.
Under the Obama Administration, he served as a special advisor in the Office of the Director at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where his portfolio consisted of diversity and inclusion initiatives across the Federal workforce, and as a detailed Project Manager at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian. Justis joined the Federal workforce in January 2010 as a Presidential Management Fellow after spending several years working in the fields of higher education and human resources. His first position with the Federal government was with the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, where he split his efforts between the Office of Culture, Religion, & Military Equal Opportunity and the newly established Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response.
He currently serves on the boards of LGBTQ and Allied Employees at ED, Asian American Pacific Islander Connections, the Truman State University National Alumni Association, and Cupid’s Sting: An Interpersonal Violence Reduction Program. He is a former International Scholar Laureate and Diversity Fellow of The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.
He earned an MA in Intercultural and International Communication from American University’s School of International Service and a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in Political Science from Truman State University.
Joel was born in Oklahoma while his father was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base. As a military child, he lived in many states in the US, including Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. From 1998 to 2002, he lived in Okinawa, Japan. It was while in Japan, as a freshman in high school, that he first heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After two years of studying, discussions with his Latter-day Saint friends and their families, meeting with missionaries, and a year of early-morning seminary, he was baptized at age 17.
In 2002, Joel moved from Okinawa to Virginia Beach to live with his grandparents and graduated from high school in 2003. He served a full-time mission in the Colorado Colorado Springs Mission. It was while serving as a missionary that he began to wrestle with his sexual orientation and faith. In 2008, he began to come out as gay to friends. He resigned from the church later that year and came out to his family in January 2009.
From 2006 to 2012, Joel was a data support specialist and school improvement coordinator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. In 2008, he completed an Associate of Arts in information technology and then graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in political science in 2014. In 2012, he ran successfully for a seat on Virginia Beach’s school board, was re-elected in 2016, and served as vice-chair of the board in 2017. His board service ended last year.
While on the school board, Joel helped develop and approve the division’s strategic plan, a $750+ million annual operating budget, and policies impacting over 65,000 students and over 12,000 employees. He led efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the school division’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies for employees and students, resulting in the unanimous adoption of a resolution calling on the Virginia General Assembly, the commonwealth’s legislature, to amend the Virginia Human Rights Act to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Ultimately the board unanimously adopted his proposed non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
Joel describes his first contact with Affirmation fondly, saying, “It’s hard to explain the feeling of being with other LGBTQ people who are or were Latter-day Saints. Even though It had been almost a decade since I resigned my membership in the church, being with others who shared this similar experience helped heal some wounds that I’d carried for so long. This is the experience I want for all LGBTQ Mormons everywhere: to know that they’re not alone and that there is a community waiting to embrace them for all they are and support them in their journey, no matter what.
“Working to develop and sustain this critical community of support for LGBTQ Mormons and their allies worldwide is an honor and great responsibility that I will work hard to meet as Affirmation’s director of operations.”