Affirmations: A Brief Agency History

By |2014-04-20T09:00:00-04:00April 20th, 2014|Michigan, News|

1989-90: First board of directors assembled by Gary Roberts and Jeff Vitale. Roberts is the first president of the board which includes Sue Pittman, Christine Puckett, Brian Wootton, Judy Utley, Jan Stevenson, Michael Sharp, Cathy McGowan, Steve Wood, Scott Parker. Center is housed in a building owned by Pittman and Puckett in Detroit. The first programs are the hotline and coming out group.

1990-95: Jan Stevenson, board president and then first executive director. Center moves to Pioneer Building in Ferndale. Staff increases to eight, programming expands and includes youth group. Carl Rippberger bequeaths $150,000 for youth programs. Pittmann and Puckett murdered May 1992.

1996-2000: Julie Enszer becomes executive director, followed by Cindy Woodbury. Board size decreases to under five with financial difficulties.

2000-2004: Leslie Thompson executive director and attorney Brian Cullin board president rebuild finances, staff and programming. First Big Bash 2003. Capital campaign launched in 2004.

2004-07: George Westerman and Thompson lead capital campaign, raising $5.5 million for new center construction. Allan Gilmour and Eric Jirgens, and Nancy Katz and Margo Dichtelmiller co-chair with lead gifts. Move into the new center facility in 2007.

2007-10: Multicultural Advisory Board established, recession batters donations, staff and programming scaled back.

2010-11: Thompson leaves center. Consultant Kevin Howley leads board through restructuring of finances, staff, board, programming and management.

2011-13: Dave Garcia executive director. Mark Blanke, board president, becomes longest serving board member. Center launches Hunger for Equality Campaign, LGBT Community Center Network and Shore2Shore Ride. End of 2013 center received anonymous bequest of $800,000, solidifying the center’s finances.

2014: Garcia leaves. Search for new executive director begins. Silver Jubilee moves to Cobo Hall. Future looks bright for Affirmations.

About the Author:

Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.