Affirmations in Ferndale announced the election of new officers and members to the LGBTQ community center's board of directors on May 24 including new president, Brad Bell.
Bell, who joined Affirmations' board of directors in 2012, said he is "very excited to lead the board as we update our strategic plan this year and figure out, with community input, the direction of the center over the next few years. With marriage equality now the rule of law across the country, many in the general public might wonder why we still need a community center or other LGBTQ organizations. For so many people in our community marriage equality has no impact on their daily lives."
Affirmations continues to serve thousands of individuals from Southeast Michigan in areas of support, social activities, counseling, leadership development, and health needs that are particular to the LGBTQ community. Especially for older adults who created the movement, youth who are coming out today and do not live in supportive families and communities, and transgender men and women.
"Affirmations serves as a safe space where they can express their authentic selves. I witness that each time I walk in the building and I am instantly reminded of the importance of the work we do here," said Bell.
In spite of some significant staff changes in prior years, Affirmations has continued to deliver high quality services 12 hours a day, six days a week, 52 weeks of the year.
"That speaks so well to the strength of the organization and the volunteers and donors that support our work," said Bell. "We have an amazing programing and administrative staff in place that has the ability to enhance the services of the center even further. That direction will be mapped out in our new strategic plan."
The new vice president, Mike Flores, was first appointed as a board member with Eric Martin in January. An additional four board members were appointed last month.
Paula Kirsch is a Psychotherapist between her private practice at Authentic Living Psychotherapy, LLC in Detroit, and Eastwood Clinic in Southfield. Kirsch's involvement with the center started when she volunteered on the Event Committee, then going on to become a counseling intern and a Center Partner.
Phil Nardone works as an account executive at Commonwealth McCann, where he specializes in account and client management. His work with Affirmations began in 2014, when he volunteered at the Welcome and Resource desk before being trained as an adult ally for the youth drop-in center.
John Stanaszek has been a resident of Ferndale for 25 years. He currently serves as Senior Vice President and Regional Manager for Citizens Bank. John has been honored with numerous awards for both sales and community project leadership, the most recent being the Chairman's Credo award for community involvement for 2016.
Danielle Woods is a 15-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department. As the department's LGBTQ Liaison, she will continue to serve as a bridge between the LGBTQ community and members of law enforcement.
"These individuals bring an array of skills, diverse perspectives and new energy that will compliment the existing board," said Susan Erspamer, executive director at Affirmations. "I'm extremely pleased that I'll get to work with such a wonderful group of individuals."
They will join treasurer Jon Beasley, secretary Syeda Davidson, member-at-large and former board president Frank Aiello, Jodi Allen, Rev. Steven Archer and Karl de Nazareth to shape the direction of Affirmations moving forward.
"These six individuals help better represent our community as a whole on the board and bring an amazing level of energy and passion around the work of Affirmations," said Bell. "The board members who joined several months ago have already helped us secure new leads on grant funding and organized an upcoming fundraiser with the PNC Bank ERG group. That sort of effort and energy is infectious and I'm excited for where it will lead the organization over the next couple of years."