Melissa-Malcolm, Francisco, and Kate Share Their Vision for Affirmation
The Affirmation Charter & Bylaws require the election of a president every two years and allow a president to run for a second term. On September 7, a call for candidates and a timeline for the election were published on the Affirmation website, emailed to Affirmation subscribers, and posted to Affirmation’s primary social media channels. October 7 was the deadline for candidates to submit statements of candidacy to be included in the election.
Melissa-Malcolm King, currently a member of the board of directors and former president of the Affirmation Midwest Region, was the only candidate to submit a statement by the October 7 deadline. They have nominated fellow board members Francisco Ruiz and Kate Mower to serve as senior vice president and vice president, respectively. Once elected by the membership of Affirmation, the board of directors is responsible for ratifying these nominations. If ratified, Melissa, Francisco, and Kate will become the new Affirmation Executive Committee on January 1, 2023.
The election will open on November 8 and close on November 22. Only voting members of Affirmation on November 7 will have ballots emailed to them. Voting membership status will be communicated to Affirmation community members soon.
Melissa-Malcolm, Francisco, and Kate each submitted articles for publication to share their background, experience, and vision for Affirmation.
Going Up from Here
Melissa-Malcolm King, Candidate for Affirmation President
What does Affirmation mean to me?
As members and leaders of a queer-led organization, we do much more than entertain; we empower. We do not simply find refuge but create more extraordinary spaces of inclusion. We do not just save lives; we boldly proclaim that our life journey has an abundance of Queer Joy and that we are worthy of all of life’s choicest blessings without the need for emotional or spiritual amendment. For these reasons, I proudly and boldly seek to run in the 2022 election as President of Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends, with Francisco J. Ruiz (He, Him) as Senior Vice-President and Kate Mower (They/Them) as Vice President.
As a leader for Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends, I have had the opportunity to serve in various capacities for over five years, including as a conference committee member, written translator, Scholarship Coordinator, Pride Event Director, Love Loud Liaison, People of the Global Majority Director, Regional Representative and at current a member of the Affirmation Board. As a current Board Liaison to the People of the Global Majority, there have been opportunities to collaborate on events and the creation of ongoing networking with organizations such as Black Menaces, Black Lives Matter, Solidarity for Justice, Love Loud Organization, My Hometown Initiative, The Utah Pride Center, and other national groups. Additionally, as acting President of Asexual of Utah and Board Member of the Disabled Rights Action Committee and West View Newspaper, my mission is to give an equitable voice to these various intersections, thereby increasing capacities for future leadership and fundraising opportunities within the Affirmation Community. It has been wonderful to be part of the beautiful changes within these organizations and to look forward to being part of making more extraordinary spaces of inclusivity in Affirmation, thereby more profound access for membership to land, heal and be authentic.
Campaign Overview and Objectives
As a presidential candidate, my campaign will focus on creating a broader opportunity to increase leadership development among marginalized groups, raising awareness and education for intersectional experiences, and supporting Transgender, BIPOC, and Disabled individuals. Members will find a place in Affirmation to land and continue to soar as leaders and fierce social justice advocates with ongoing training opportunities and professional development. Consequently, I will collaborate with other community advocacy groups to increase access to new members and fundraising connections to support this initiative.
Meet the Vice-Presidential Team
Since 2005, Francisco Ruiz (he, him) has worked diligently to support community service organizations, including as a fierce leader in Affirmation as a board member and emeritus vice-president, thereby increasing visibility for the Latin American Chapters. His professional passions include leadership training, providing resources for individuals with low-income, marginalized communities, and focusing on continually serving Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Most recently, Francisco was honored as the 2022 Mortensen Award Winner for his extinguished contributions to Affirmation.
Kate Mower (they, them) has worked extensively within the Affirmation Los Angeles Chapter and European Region since 2019. They are a graduate student in Romania supporting local LGBTQ+ organizations to foster equity and inclusion. Additionally, Kate hosts a weekly podcast entitled “Called to Queer” that further gives voice to the issues facing individuals at the intersection of being a gender minority and queer. Since joining Affirmation Leadership, Kate has worked tirelessly to provide an equitable voice to the marginalized and develop leadership in areas under-served by Affirmation, such as in the Philippines and Africa.
Why do I choose to serve in Affirmation?
Affirmation has always been a refuge for me as I navigated my spiritual journey and my various intersections being queer, intersex, disabled, and a person of color. Being a member of Affirmation has saved my life and, in turn, the lives of countless others. The service I have rendered and look forward to doing in the future will continue to save lives by creating sacred spaces where each person can continue to land, heal, and be boldly authentic wherever they are, just as they are, unapologetically and with Queer Joy ever abundant. For this reason, I am eager and excited to seek the office of President and, together with Francisco and Kate, move the mission of Affirmation toward greatness for generations to come.
My Place to Land, Heal, Share and be Authentic
Francisco Ruiz, Nominee for Affirmation Senior Vice President
Affirmation in My Life
I grew up as a member of the LDS church in Mexico. In 2004 I wanted to be closer to the Church and moved to Utah; however, I had something I was hiding: I didn’t want to accept that I was gay. It was until 2012 when I entered into a great internal conflict that caused me a lot of pain, despair and anguish: I didn’t know how to reconcile my faith with my sexuality. I felt alone. I remember sitting in front of the Salt Lake Temple, during a cold winter, not knowing what I was going to do. I made a difficult decision to return home to Mexico to feel the support of my family, and in 2016 I was invited to participate in Affirmation Mexico. I was relieved to hear the stories of other LGBTQ+ Mormons, I received a spiritual confirmation that I was well and that I was not broken, sick or incomplete, and, for the first time in 30 years, I felt authentic.
Since then, Affirmation has been for me a safe place; a place where I found hope; a place where I have received love, and where I can truly be myself without fear of rejection, criticism or ridicule.
Affirmation gave me the tools I needed to create a new future for myself.
In 2005 I started working for community-based organizations in Salt Lake. I fell in love with community work, and, since then, I have been involved with non-profit organizations like NeighborWorks Salt Lake and the Community Development Corporation of Utah. In 2016 I was invited to an Affirmation Conference in México, and in 2017 I started to serve as Affirmation Mexico´s Senior Vice president. In 2018 I served as Vice president in the Executive Committee with Carson Tueller as president, and, since 2020, I have served as Board Member. I have been assigned to support the work of Affirmation in Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, México, Ecuador, and Central America. As a Certified QPR Instructor, I have trained about 200 people in suicide prevention in Latin America and Europe.
As a volunteer in Affirmation, I am passionate about organizing activities and conferences, representing Affirmation in the LGBTQ+ community, training new community leaders, but above all I am committed to accompanying new people coming to Affirmation, in their process of discovery and acceptance so that they never feel alone.
I feel honored to serve with Melissa. She has been a committed leader not only in Affirmation but in multiple organizations. I look forward to working together with them as we create and expand communities for members to land, heal and be authentic around the world.
Following the Path Laid Before Us
Kate Mower, Nominee for Affirmation Vice President
What does Affirmation mean to me?
As I left Romania in 2018 – knowing I was in love with a woman I was not supposed to love – I felt completely alone, helpless. My friends told me I was evil, worthy of destruction. I did not feel I had a safe place to land. It was in this despair I found Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends. Quite literally, Affirmation saved my life. Soon after this, I wanted to join this force for good. I knew that participation in Affirmation was more important than any church calling I had ever held.
When I entered into Affirmation leadership, I vowed I would make my service area as intersectional as possible and focus on transgender individuals, hoping that if we could make our chapter safe for these groups, we would ensure safety for everyone. Upon meeting Melissa-Malcolm King, I knew that they had the skills, abilities, and experience to meet those goals better than I could. I reached out to Melissa-Malcolm to say that if they ran for president, they would have my full support. I am humbled by Melissa-Malcolm’s consideration for me as vice president. I would proudly serve next to and learn from such an impressive leader. Likewise, I am honored to be nominated along with the veteran Affirmation leader, Francisco Ruiz.
I joined Affirmation in 2019, and shortly after, Pacific Region Leader at the time, Sarah Bowers, asked me to lead the Los Angeles Chapter. The majority of my leadership time, therefore, has been under the growing pains of the global pandemic. While that has come with many challenges, it also meant that I have spent considerable time online with Affirmation leaders across the globe. I have been personally mentored by Affirmation President Nathan Kitchen and Vice President Laurie Lee Hall. Nathan Kitchen asked me to join the Board of Directors of Affirmation in December 2021. While working with Affirmation, I have been active in the LGBTQ+ Mormon space through a podcast I co-host with clinical therapist Colette Dalton titled Called to Queer. Through this podcast, we interview those of marginalized genders in the intersection of Mormonism and queerness. Additionally, I am a social media leader who works often with other social media leaders such as Black Menaces, USGA at BYU, Affirmation at BYU Hawaii, RaYnbow Collective, Lift and Love, and others. I work extensively within feminist circles, and gender and queer academia. I expect to continue partnerships with these organizations and circles in order to fundraise for and raise awareness of Affirmation.
Support of Melissa-Malcolm King’s Campaign
I met Melissa-Malcolm King in 2021 within Affirmation’s groups, but also within digital spaces that intersect Mormonism, queerness, BIPOC, and disability. We interviewed Melissa-Malcolm on our podcast about these intersections, especially her advocacy for disability in Utah. It was only through that interview that I understood how much work and advocacy they were doing. This work will benefit Affirmation in a number of ways. Melissa-Malcolm has built an extensive network of organizational contacts and supporters. They also have experience with other advocacy projects with different objectives and processes. It is especially worth noting that Affirmation was established in 1977, a year before the temple and priesthood ban on Black Latter-day Saints ended. It is, therefore, incredibly significant that we begin our racial healing with our first Black, intersex lesbian president. There will be growing pains, but healing can only come through growth and extension past our comfort zones. Growing in this way will also need to involve protection for BIPOC members of Affirmation and a Black president. I expect to be on the front lines making sure we find important ways to protect our BIPOC and Latin American members who have historically been marginalized.
I pledge to work towards a common Strategic Plan that has been accepted and approved by Affirmation leadership. I pledge to work across divides and divisive attitudes in order to find and maintain common ground. I believe in supporting every member of Affirmation in their needs from this community, and I strive to make sure all feel included. I acknowledge and respect the long heritage of this organization, the history of living through and fighting through many struggles, including the AIDS crisis. This institution is worth protecting and fighting for. I pledge to honor those that have come before and honor those who will follow all of us in the future. I am continually grateful for those pillars in this community whose shoulders we all stand on.