New and Returning Regional Leaders in the Affirmation United States and Canada Area

September 6, 2020

United States and Canada

In order to build diverse worldwide communities where all who engage with Affirmation feel known and cared for, Affirmation organizes a support system of leaders to ensure that those who find us and those who participate with us have resources to connect with LGBTQ peers for local chapter events and to find Affirmation groups that will be most helpful for them.

In the United States and Canada, these leaders oversee five geographical regions, connecting people as well as providing support for local chapter needs and growth.

If you are new to Affirmation or interested in connecting with your LGBTQ peers for support, activities, and fellowship please contact your regional leader in the state or province you live in. You can also visit our website calendar for information about activities and local chapters near you as well as online groups and resources. We are anxious to connect you and meet you!

Pacific Region

Sarah Bowers (President) is a lesbian living in Los Angeles and serving as president of Affirmation’s Pacific Region. Though she recently stepped away from the formal church, she finds great joy in exploring faith, spirituality, and a relationship with God. Sarah has a background in international studies and nonprofit management, and is currently obtaining her Master’s of Social Work from Cal-State, Long Beach. She likes reading, urban exploration, swimming in the ocean, advocating for Black Lives Matter, exploring Spotify playlists, and mindfulness practice.

Vinnie Jones (Vice President) is originally from Maine and was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently living in San Francisco, Vinnie is a professional dancer and choreographer specializing in contemporary ballet work at Menlowe Ballet and Trivial Motion Dance. She also co-founded the em(body) dance project, a company committed to representing diverse human experiences including women and queer people, in which she is also a choreographer and dancer.

Vinnie is the regional vice president of Affirmation Pacific Region and is active in her local Affirmation chapter. She also has a spiritual group that meets once a week to create a safe and diverse spiritual community.

States and providences served within the Affirmation Pacific Region: Alaska, Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, California, Hawaii, British Columbia.

For more information or to contact these leaders, visit the page for the Affirmation Pacific Region.

Intermountain West Region

Troy Mitchell (President) was born and raised in eastern Utah. He was married to a woman for 16 years. Troy came out to his family 20 years ago. He met Ryan Hales in 2001 and they have been together since that time. Troy served in many Church calling as Bishoprics and High Councils. He has been a civic leader and long time member of Affirmation. Troy and Ryan have 2 children and 5 grandchildren. They live in South Jordan Utah.

Deven Ogden (Vice President) lives in Salt Lake City where he lives with his husband Jomens, and works for NASA. He was raised in the Church, served a mission in Seattle, bachelors from BYU Hawaii, and a master’s from BYU Provo. Deven spent most of his career in Philadelphia and DC where he also served as a bishop. Deven is the proud father of four adult children.

States and provinces served in the Affirmation Intermountain West Region: Western Washington, Western Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Alberta, Saskatchewan.

For more information or to contact these leaders, visit the page for the Affirmation Intermountain West Region.

Midwest Region

Melissa-Malcolm King (President) is an inspiring writer. Her current works are found in the Exponent II, a feminist space for women and gender minorities across the Mormon spectrum as well as in Innervision Magazine, a magazine that celebrates the greater good in people around the world. She is also the content coordinator for A Natural HairCare Social Media Group and Affirmation’s Chicago chapter.

Melissa-Malcolm runs the non-profit Project B.E. S.A.F.E. (Bridging the Education of Safety, Awareness and Female Empowerment) providing resources and escape for women surviving domestic violence. She is also an advocate for LGBTQ rights and the intersectionality of being queer, disabled, and a person of color.

States and provinces served in the Affirmation Midwest Region: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Northern Illinois, Northern Indiana, Northern Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Western Ontario (including Toronto).

For more information or to contact this leader, visit the page for the Affirmation Midwest Region.

South Region

Steve Spencer (President) came out as gay and left the church in 2017 After growing up a 5th generation Mormon, along with his then-wife, Kerry, who also belongs to the LGBTQ community. He now works in streaming TV advertising in Baltimore, MD, volunteers on the board of a group helping Baltimore’s inner city, sings baritone in a gay men’s chorus, but most importantly is the grateful dad of two great teens.

States and provinces served in the Affirmation South Region: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Southern Illinois, Southern Indiana, Southern Ohio, Western West Virginia, Western Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Western North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida.

For more information or to contact this leader, visit the page for the Affirmation South Region.

Atlantic Region

Kerry Spencer (President) teaches writing at Stevenson University. She has published fiction, nonfiction, and academic work. She’s editor in chief of the QMW Project, which collects the writing of queer Mormons of marginalized genders. She lives in Maryland with her partner and children.

States and provinces served in the Affirmation Atlantic Region: New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Boston, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Eastern West Virginia, Eastern Virginia, Eastern North Carolina, Quebec (including Ottawa), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia.

For more information or to contact this leader, visit the page for the Affirmation Atlantic Region.

Affirmation’s Mission and Vision

Mission: Affirmation creates worldwide communities of safety, love, and hope and promotes understanding, acceptance, and self-determination of individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. We affirm the inherent self-worth of LGBTQIA+ individuals as complete, equal, and valuable persons and support them as they define their individual spirituality and intersection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Vision: To be a refuge to land, heal, share, and be authentic.

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