Affirmation Announces New President & New Executive Committee
June 19, 2017
Affirmation’s Growth Requires Full-Time Leadership and Staff
Affirmation has grown tremendously over the past 5 years, now serving over 10,000 people around the world. The Board of Directors has determined that it is now time to hire some full-time staff to help with the day-to-day operations which support our hundreds of volunteers across the globe. Affirmation has discussed this potential development for more than a decade. We are extremely grateful to our generous donors who are helping us finally make this possible.
As mentioned in an article published last week, we have already hired Webmasters/Online Content Managers to manage our Spanish-Speaking and Portuguese speaking online assets (webpage, youtube, newsletters, social media, etc.). The article also mentioned the advertisement for an Executive Director to lead the day-to-day operations of the organization under the supervision of the volunteer Affirmation President, Executive Committee and Board of Directors. We have also advertised a main Webmaster/Online Content Manager for our English-speaking online assets. These position descriptions can be found on www.indeed.com at the following links. Please consider sharing with others or applying yourself if you feel interested and qualify.
John Gustav-Wrathall’s Resignation as President of Affirmation
On Friday, June 16, 2017, John Gustav-Wrathall submitted his resignation as President of Affirmation, in order to apply for the position of Executive Director. Organizational governance best practices require this action to avoid any conflict of interest. In his resignation letter, he states,
“I hereby resign as president of Affirmation, effective immediately, in order that I may apply for the position of executive director.
As per the charter and bylaws of Affirmation, Sara Jade Woodhouse, Senior Vice President of Affirmation, is now president, subject to board approval. In order to ensure that all vital tasks and operations are carried on in an orderly manner, and regardless of who is ultimately hired to fill the position of executive director, I am available to assist the president, the executive committee, and board as needed through this transition.
I am grateful for the unselfish and devoted service of all volunteers and leaders in Affirmation throughout the world, and remain committed to advance the mission of Affirmation in whatever capacity I am called upon to serve going forward.”
Shortly after John Gustav-Wrathall’s resignation from the presidency of Affirmation, the Board voted to ask John to serve as the 2017 Affirmation International Conference Chair. He accepted, and will work to support Mary Ellen Robertson, the professional conference planner, who was hired by Affirmation in April of this year to lead our large 700-attendee conference planning and execution.
Sara Jade Woodhouse Assumes Presidency and Forms New Executive Committee
The Board accepted John Gustav-Wrathall’s resignation, and has now ratified the new executive committee, Sara Jade Woodhouse, President, Adryán San Román, Senior Vice President and Aaron Mark McManus, Vice President. Sara Jade will serve out the remainder of John Gustav-Wrathall’s term, until the next election in November 2017.
Upon her appointment as president, Sara released the following statement to the Affirmation community:
Norman Vincent Peale said, “The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” Affirmation has a long history of being a place of refuge, and a place where the weary can find respite. Our mission is simple…save as many lives as we can! Every child of God is a vital part of the heavens and I can’t imagine a world where that wouldn’t be so.
During a time that has seen some of the greatest challenges heaped upon the shoulders of our beloved LGBTQ families and in a day when we believed that our Faith was moving towards an acceptance of us all, I have had the express privilege of serving alongside John and Adrian. I have stood in awe of the strength of those with whom I have served, Affirmation members as a whole and our amazing allies both within and without as we pulled together to weather that storm. And we will, I’m sure, weather still more.
I am humbled by the awesome responsibility that now faces me. The office of President of Affirmation brings with it a figurative pair of heavy shoes. Those shoes are well worn with a vast history of love, service and compassion for ALL people! They are big beyond belief. As I seek to ‘…lose myself in something bigger than myself…’ I will cherish the helping hands of my Vice Presidents Adrian Sanchez Román and Aaron Mark McManus, our talented and dedicated Board of Directors, our leadership teams and volunteers in cities and countries around the world, the amazing leaders that have come before me, and the thousands of Affirmation members which I have been entrusted to serve.
I hope to be able to fill those shoes with dignity, humility and a passion worthy of those who have come before. And while I’m at it… I just might add a pair of heels!
Thank you and much love!
Sara Jade Woodhouse
Adrian Sanchez Roman as Affirmation’s Senior Vice President
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to support John Gustav-Wrathall in his leadership as President. He has been a man who gave me all his confidence to work as Vice President, and I will say two things that I am sure of John: 1) I am a faithful witness that he prays for all of us in Affirmation, and 2) that he is also committed to this work with all his heart, soul and mind, which undoubtedly he has always shown over the years, and will continue to do in serving Affirmation, whatever the capacity may be.
At the same time, I feel honored that Sara Jade Woodhouse has entrusted me to serve as her Senior Vice President. It is a challenge I will work hard to fulfill. I am tremendously thrilled to be able to work with a trans woman president, which will provide a visible support to those who at times have felt they were on the margins.
A few years ago, we faced the challenge of the expansion of Affirmation internationally, which has materialized step-by-step with growth each and every month. It was an honor to be called two years ago as the first ever non-United States board member, and now our international organization has one more reason to celebrate! Aaron Mark McManus’ addition to the Executive Committee and Board bring an even more global vision to the leadership and service of Affirmation. Without a doubt, his presence in the presidency will allow our help and service to project more and more abroad. I have observed Aaron’s demonstration of selfless service these past two years. He serves with love and much humility alongside his whole family, and this will bless us greatly.
Meet Aaron Mark McManus – Your New Affirmation 2nd Vice President
Aaron is from a small seaside town called Southport in Northwest England. He is a Floral designer, enjoys running, hiking and loves to go on adventures around the world. His parents converted to the church just before they got married and Aaron was born and raised a Mormon. He came out as gay when he was 24 to his close family and friends. He has since navigated his way through staying active in the church and being a gay Mormon, while pursuing a long tern same-sex relationship, finding the balance and making it work.
He is very open about being gay within his church community and has been involved with many church events and callings. Aaron attended the first Affirmation conference held in London and was appointed Affirmation Europe President shortly thereafter. He has since helped Affirmation grow to support LGBT+ Mormons, their family and friends across the United Kingdom and Europe, organizing conferences, prides activities and other events. Aaron spoke at the Affirmation Conference in 2015.
Aaron shared the following upon accepting to serve as Affirmation’s Vice President, “It has been a privilege to serve as Affirmation Europe President for the past two years and it is now an honour to serve in the Affirmation Presidency with Sara Jade and Adrian. It is a pleasure to get to know so many LGBT Mormons and their families and friends from across the UK and Europe. It is wonderful to see the difference Affirmation can make in someone’s life. I look forward to the future of Affirmation and I am very excited to be a part of it!”
The Executive Director Hiring Committee
The Board of Directors has formed a hiring committee that will review resumes, request and follow-up with references and background checks, and perform initial interviews prior to submitting top candidates to the full Board of Directors for final interviews and approval. The members of this hiring committee include the Affirmation President, Sara Jade Woodhouse, and board members Laura Dulin, Justis Tuia, Ezequiel Rojas, and Randall Thacker. The Board of Directors also reached out to two non-Board members to be a part of the committee – Olin Thomas and Ann Pack.
Olin Thomas is a former president of Affirmation who has served the organization for over 30 years. He and his partner live in Alexandria, VA and are active in the Washington, DC chapter. Ann Pack is a transgender woman who spoke recently at an Affirmation event in April in Salt Lake City. She married her wife 17 years ago in the Bountiful, Utah temple and together they have a 12 year old daughter.
It is the Board of Directors’ intention that an Executive Director will be hired by the end of July this year.