Fred Bowers Seeks Election as Affirmation President, Nominates Vice Presidents
Fred Bowers, currently Acting President of Affirmation, is seeking election as President in the special election called following the resignation of Melissa-Malcolm King. Fred has been acting president since January 1st. He is the only candidate to file a statement to run for President. His nominee for Senior Vice President is Joel McDonald. His nominee for Vice President is David Doyle.
The Affirmation Charter and Bylaws do not provide for the cancelation of an election when only one candidate files to run. The election will proceed as scheduled.
An electronic ballot will be emailed to all voting members of Affirmation on February 12. In order to receive a ballot, you must be voting member as of February 10. To check your membership status, please log in to https://affirmation.org/member.
Voting in this election will close on February 26. Results of the election will be published by March 1. Following the election, the Board of Directors will consider the ratification of the nominees for Senior Vice President and Vice President. Once nominees have been ratified, the President, Senior Vice President, and Vice President become the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee serves as the leadership of the Board of Directors and as the executive of the organization, overseeing its day-to-day work.
Statement from Fred Bowers
Joyful and thriving.
Words that speak to emotion and state of being every LGBTQIA LDS/Mormon should be able to experience as an individual and collectively as a member of this worldwide community called Affirmation. Alongside our commitment to helping LGBT Mormons experience communities of safety, love, and hope that promote understanding, acceptance, and self-determination of LGBTQIA+ individuals and their families, from now on, Affirmation must work to focus on connection and collaboration internally and externally. As Affirmation proudly enters its 47th year of existence and I reach the 24th anniversary of my being part of it, it has grown far beyond the vision of its founders. A connected and collaborative community makes for a strong community. Community members are making every effort to connect and are succeeding in doing so. Still, together, we can do more to connect the various intersections of the LGBTQIA LDS/Mormon experience for the betterment of the community at large.
I have memories of connection in Affirmation, but one memory that is at the heart of the service I’ve given to Affirmation for many years is an encounter with Affirmation’s founder, Paul Mortensen, during our 2011 “Visions and Blessings” conference in Cleveland and Kirtland, Ohio, U.S. The conference hotel was a three-part building with a wing of conference rooms to the left and a wing of guest rooms to the right of the hotel lobby in the center. As Paul walked from the guest room section of the building through the lobby and to the conference room wing, he asked a group of us, “Where are the signs that show the conference rooms are in this direction?”. The answer was that no signs like he described existed. Paul was passionate about serving the people of Affirmation well, and I soon learned that details mattered in doing the work of Affirmation.
After many years of serving Affirmation, I have learned the complex meaning behind Paul’s question, which is and continues to be that Affirmation leadership’s charge is to plan thoughtfully and carefully while considering the spiritual, physical, and emotional aspects of all the people we serve. Our job is to let them know we must preserve, steward, and grow the organization they have invested in by “following the signs” here to Affirmation as a place for them to find a refuge to land, heal, share, and be authentic.
Affirmation is evolving, but it needs to focus on prior strategic plan elements and develop a strategic plan based on membership input about Affirmation’s way forward.
To move forward with the Affirmation community toward its future, our Executive Committee plans to execute the following objectives:
We plan to intensify our leadership training and mentoring efforts worldwide.
To help LGBTQIA LDS/Mormons land here, we need a strong corps of leaders who are compassionate, knowledgeable, trained, and dedicated to assisting others to contribute to Affirmation. We will work to provide mentorship to leaders who will feel known and cared for and pass this critical sense of caring along to others.
We plan to initiate internal and external knowledge-sharing and training for international chapters to take advantage of NGO grants and other funding sources and continue to organize Affirmation in other countries.
Every LGBTQIA LDS/Mormon worldwide should be able to thrive here in Affirmation and be able to increase their self-worth, overcome shame, achieve spiritual being, and experience a sense of thriving in their lives. NGO grants will be an added benefit to international chapters that feel NGO grants suit their needs.
We plan to foster more interpersonal connections and communication in Affirmation, both online and in person, to battle a worldwide epidemic of loneliness.
Social isolation and loneliness are increasingly being recognized as a priority public health problem and policy issue across all age groups. During the UN Decade of Healthy Aging (2021-2030), the Demographic Change and Healthy Ageing Unit will address social isolation and loneliness as one of the themes that cut across the four main action areas of the Decade. From Social Isolation and Loneliness – World Health Organization (WHO)
Affirmation welcomes new members worldwide and plans to help more people by putting up “signs” to lead people here to Affirmation. Community and connection are essential to us and worldwide, as we will work to live up to our bylaw’s call to “work to enhance transparency, accountability, and leadership engagement by fostering interaction among community members and communicating with the public more frequently.” We will work to improve the website’s accessibility and create a solid social media presence. We will also seek to build on our success in establishing a mental health task force to improve the mental health of LGBTQIA LDS/Mormons worldwide.
We plan to identify potential organizations to partner with and include them in online activities, conferences, and in-person events.
As we work to emphasize the need for community and connection, we will focus on connecting with our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters of all faiths to broaden our understanding of what it means to be spiritual across the LGBTQIA spectrum. We are committed to following our bylaws and will continually dialogue with leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to promote greater understanding and acceptance and remain committed to building and maintaining a culture that promotes orientation, gender, disability, racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic equity within our communities.
We plan to continue encouraging individuals to become Affirmation members by making financial contributions.
We are committed to following our bylaws and identifying, engaging with, and building relationships with those willing to support the mission of Affirmation financially. We will be transparent and accountable for how fiscal resources are used and their impact.
Now that you know about some of our many plans as an executive committee, here’s my story and why I want to become your next Affirmation President.
It’s pretty simple. The minute I walked into an Affirmation meeting, I knew I had found a place where I could be authentic. I’ve been authentic as I have traveled a journey that included being a chapter leader, chapter-at-large leader, a member of the Affirmation board for six years, an international conference chairperson, a Mortensen Award winner, and now an executive committee member. I’ve seen Affirmation in challenging times and in joyful times. I’ve observed many Affirmation leaders during my journey and have arrived at a place where I understand their leadership intent. I have worked to prepare myself to lead Affirmation by learning the nonprofit business world through Affirmation board service, formal courses, and board service locally, as well as through local and firm-wide leadership positions at two consulting firms. I am looking to use the knowledge I’ve gained to make Affirmation a place where not only LGBTQIA LDS/Mormons find a refuge to land, heal, share, and be authentic but can do so in a joyful and thriving way.
I’ve lived an exciting life; if you want the details, go here for more information about me.
I am grateful that Joel McDonald and David Doyle accepted my request to join me as Affirmation’s potential senior vice president and vice president in our campaign to become Affirmation’s next leaders.
Joel and David have lived exciting lives, and it’s time to hear about their lives and service to Affirmation.
Joel McDonald (he/him), my nominee for Senior Vice President, first connected with Affirmation in 2017 when he attended General Conference with a group from Affirmation. This was the first time Joel had the opportunity to share, face-to-face, his experience as a gay Latter-day Saint with other LGBTQIA+ individuals with similar experiences of the Church.
“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,” Joel shared. “This is the experience I want for all LGBTQIA+ current and former Latter-day Saints everywhere: To know that they’re not alone and that there is a community waiting to embrace them for all they are and to support them in their journey, no matter what.”
Joel converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 17 in 2002 while his family was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. He served an honorable full-time mission for the Church in the Colorado Colorado Springs Mission from 2004 to 2006. He resigned his membership in the Church in 2009, the same year he came out.
In 2017, Affirmation hired Joel as the organization’s first English Online Content Manager and, later, the Online Content and Data Manager. In 2020, he was promoted to Operations Director. In these roles, Joel worked to improve Affirmation’s web presence, organize Affirmation’s data, automate and streamline administrative processes, provide training and support to community leaders, and plan and execute fundraising campaigns. He also collaborated with the Affirmation Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Officers, and other committees to develop a strategic plan, plan and execute conferences and other events, develop the annual budget, establish new financial policies, publish the Affirmation Community Leaders Guide, and much more. Without a doubt, Joel’s depth of experience in assisting with the administration of Affirmation as a staff member will be invaluable to us as we seek to continue to fulfill our mission as volunteers in a working Executive Committee and Board of Directors.
Joel lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his boyfriend of almost four years and their friendly pitbull. He is currently the Web Manager for the National Association of Peer Supporters. In 2012, he was elected to the Virginia Beach School Board, reelected in 2016, and was the first openly gay candidate to win an election in the city. In 2014, Joel earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Old Dominion University, where he is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management.
David Doyle (he/him), my nominee for Vice President, works at a university in Florida and was out to a small group of individuals until a blog post of his went viral in 2017. This led him to attend his first Affirmation International Conference in 2018 where he found a community that understood his experience and provided resources to help him navigate some of the complexities where being LDS & LGBTQ intersect.
In his personal life, David strives to increase understanding of the queer LDS experience by sharing his thoughts & feelings with others. David has worked to further Affirmation’s reach and work by first serving for several years as the President of the Affirmation Florida Chapter, then as a member of the Board of Directors, and looks forward to continuing working with Affirmation as Vice President.