Affirmations, the LGBTQ+ community center in Ferndale, recently named Cheryl Czach their new deputy executive director. Pride Source caught up with the long-time advocate to learn more about her history with the organization, her family life and how she enjoys spending her free time.Her history with the center goes back almost a decade.
Czach first became involved with Affirmations in 2014. Her first role with the center was as a front-desk volunteer. “I wanted to meet more folks in the community, and joining a social event or group felt a bit intimidating,” Czach said. Her mom was campaign manager for Congressman Dale Kildee and leader of her local Democratic Club. “My parents instilled in me the importance of being an active member of your community and, at the time, I felt this was missing in my life.” Working the front desk, Czach said, is “how I fell in love with this organization.”She’s a former board president of the center.
After volunteering at the front desk, Czach moved on to participating in committees and supporting events such as the annual wine party and the Big Bash, the center’s annual gala and largest fundraiser. In 2018, she was elected to the center’s Board of Directors. The following year, she became vice president and, eventually, the board’s president. “I enjoyed representing Affirmations at Pride events,” she said. Czach also became involved in the center’s youth leadership program. She left the board when her term ended in 2021 but remained active with the center.She holds an MBA and has a history in the automotive field.
“No one in my family had gone to college,” said Czach. “It was not discussed as even an option.” So she got somewhat of a late start, not attending college until she was in her 30s. “When I went to college, I was far more mature, and I took it seriously because I was paying for it.” Czach earned her bachelor and master’s degree from the University of Phoenix. “I think starting so late helped me. I took it far more seriously than I would have if I went straight from high school.
Czach spent about 25 years working in executive leadership roles in the automotive industry. She was vice president for a Tier 1 auto supplier as well as president of a staffing company. “I think bringing that experience will be helpful,” she said. “My personal background is in human resources, and then I took on broader responsibilities at organizations.”She’s a leadership coach and writer.
In 2018, the same year she joined the board of Affirmations, Czach stepped out of the corporate world and began doing executive leadership coaching. She has a master’s certificate from the Conscious Business Institute. Czach also enjoys public speaking and has written for Forbes magazine. “I think the corporate experience along with what I’ve been doing with the executive leadership coaching, one-on-one development, group training and development will help me in my new role,” she said.She is new to the non-profit sector.
Even though she’s spent a lot of time working with Affirmations in various capacities, this will be Czach’s first full-time job in the non-profit arena. “There’s a language around that,” she said. “I’m learning it. I think I’m coming up to speed in that regard, and that’s going to be my initial challenge.”She has a 26-year-old son.
“We’re very close and we enjoy spending time together,” Czach said. “He’s in the brewing program at Schoolcraft College, studying brewing and distilling.” Consequently, the two spend a great deal of time going to local breweries and trying craft beers.She is adopted.
Czach was adopted when she was 2 months old. Just a few years ago, Cheryl reunited with her birth mother through DNA testing. “It has been an absolutely wonderful experience getting to know her,” said Czach. “She is an artist and a phenomenal lady.” But don’t discount the good folks who raised her. “I feel very lucky to have been raised by two very loving parents,” she said. “And, then, to meet my birth mom and develop a relationship with her.”She loves music and dancing.
Czach loves to get her boogie on and is a bad mama jama on the dance floor. “Music has always been a part of my life, although I cannot play any instruments,” she said. “My son is a musician, however, so I live vicariously through him.
Czach said she listens to everything: R&B, folk, rock and even some Americana. Her favorite? The group My Chemical Romance. “I grew up listening to a mix of R&B and heavy metal,” she said. “My mom also loved Broadway show tunes. So, those are in my rotation as well.”