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Affirmation Hires Its First Full-Time Executive Director

Prodigious growth has prompted and enabled the world’s oldest and largest organization of LGBT Mormons to hire their first full-time executive director and other paid staff

On July 28, 2017, an offer for the position of Executive Director was extended to and accepted by John Gustav-Wrathall. Gustav-Wrathall started in the position on August 12, 2017.  The Affirmation Board of Directors received almost 30 applications during the hiring process, and after thorough review of all applications and two rounds of interviews with potential candidates, the Board unanimously found John Gustav-Wrathall to be the most qualified for the job.  

“Affirmation has experienced an explosion of growth within the last five years,” said Sara Jade Woodhouse, president of Affirmation. “We now have an international leadership team of hundreds of volunteers in over a dozen countries, serving thousands of LGBT Mormons, their families and friends throughout the world. Attendance at our annual international conference has more than quadrupled. We have growing programs for LGBT Mormon youth and for parents and families that attract hundreds of conference participants every year. Six years ago, we sponsored a single annual conference. This year we’re sponsoring nineteen regional, national and international conferences.”

Affirmation has already hired full-time webmasters for its Spanish- and Portuguese-language online content and web sites, and anticipates hiring an English language webmaster and an operations director or directors in coming months.

“With the challenges faced by the LGBT Mormon community worldwide in recent years there has been a growing need for the kinds of support that Affirmation provides. The needs of the membership have been outstripping the capacities of our all-volunteer leadership,” said Randall Thacker, former president of Affirmation and chair of the hiring committee. “One of the main purposes of these hires is to help us do a better job of supporting, coordinating, training, and recruiting volunteers, who are and always will be the lifeblood of our organization.”

Gustav-Wrathall has experience as a nonprofit manager and fundraiser and was an adjunct professor of religious history at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. He has actively been serving in Affirmation since 2011, is a former senior vice president and board member of Affirmation, and served as president in 2016 and the first half of 2017. He was the recipient, in 2014, of the Mortensen Award, the highest honor that Affirmation bestows on volunteers and activists in the LGBT Mormon community. Prior to his leadership in Affirmation, Gustav-Wrathall was primarily known for his thinking, writing and public speaking on the spiritual and social challenges faced by LGBT Mormons. He has published extensively on these issues in the blogosphere and in Mormon forums such as Sunstone and Dialogue. In June of this year he stepped down as president of Affirmation in order to apply for the executive director position. Sara Jade Woodhouse, who was serving as Affirmation’s Senior Vice President, assumed the position of President in June according to our bylaws.


“Affirmation would not be where it is today without the dedicated service and vision of John Gustav-Wrathall,” said Laura Skaggs Dulin, Affirmation board member and member of the hiring committee. “He embodies a leadership style that is inclusive, calm, and optimistic, helping Affirmation be a place of healing.”

As executive director, Gustav-Wrathall will report to the Affirmation president and board of directors, and will be responsible for implementing the board-approved strategic plan and budget, managing public relations and communications, membership and group development, volunteer recruitment and training, and programs and fundraising.

As mentioned previously, Sara Jade Woodhouse is the current president of Affirmation.  The president is elected annually by the membership of Affirmation, and is responsible for the overall governance of the organization along with the Board of Directors and for advancing Affirmation’s mission to provide an inclusive, healing community for LGBT Mormons, their families and friends, and to foster dialogue about LGBT issues in the Mormon and allied communities.

The next election for president of Affirmation will take place in November of this year. Nominations for the position must be submitted in writing to contact@affirmation.org by September 22, 2017, the first day of Affirmation’s annual international conference. Candidates for president will have the opportunity to present their qualifications at the annual General Business Meeting the afternoon of Friday, September 22 just prior to the start of the Annual International Affirmation Conference in Provo, Utah. To learn more and/or register for the conference, go to http://manypathsoneheart.org/.


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