Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center Elects 3 New Board Members

By |2020-08-31T13:15:39-04:00August 31st, 2020|Michigan, News|

Affirmations has announced the election of three new members to its board. Jennifer Johnson, Demetrike Wells and Brianna Yuille were voted in to become new members at large by the Affirmations Board of Directors.

“I am excited to welcome these new board members,” said Affirmations Board President Cheryl Czach. “Our board strives to reflect and represent our diverse community. We seek out members who offer complementary expertise to the existing board but also offer a diversity of perspectives. I feel confident that our new members will do just that.”

Affirmations Executive Director Dave Garcia also shared his enthusiasm for the three new members.

“I’m thrilled with the addition of these three community members,” Garcia said. “Not only do they all possess a personal connection to the center, they bring valuable experience and skills to the table that will serve us well as we continue to meet the emerging needs of the LGBTQ community in Metro Detroit.”

Between The Lines sent each of the new board members a getting-to-know you questionnaire. Their answers, along with brief bios, are below.

 

 

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson is an LGBTQ ally. She is the current vice president for student involvement and is also the chairperson of the diversity, equity and inclusion at the Michigan Parent Teacher Association.

What is Affirmations to you?

Affirmations is a respite for everyone but, most notably, to members of the LGBTQ community and their families, friends and allies. Specifically, it means that Affirmations is where my daughter and her friends and peers can come together and network with one another. I wish to expose and enable as many youth as possible to all of the outstanding programming available for them. Our youth programs are still in place in a virtual setting.

What made you want to become more involved with the center?

I wished to become more involved with Affirmations because I want everyone who needs the care, services and community that we provide to have it available. Briefly, in my late teens and my 20s, I had many loved ones who could have benefitted from knowing that Affirmations was present for them. My late brother certainly would have thoroughly enjoyed being at the center.

What is it that you bring to the board?

I was raised in a family where volunteerism, civic-mindedness and advocating civil and human rights were paramount. My spouse, Brian, and I continue with this legacy as we raise our two school-age children. Servant leadership is crucial. My colleagues at Affirmations and I are committed to ensuring that everyone from youth through those who are young at heart has appropriate resources and fun opportunities for an excellent quality of life. As it relates to my involvement with Affirmations, I will bring multiple lenses to the board, including being a person of color, a parent, an ally and a diversity and inclusion practitioner.

What is the future of center and what are some of your personal goals for it?

The future of Affirmations is strong. I wish to expand the reach of Affirmations from our tri-county area to that of our state’s outer regions and definitely to our youth. Over the past few months, we have made tremendous leverage in making this a reality. I will be working with our fantastic executive director, Dave Garcia, to bring an incredible program for students throughout our state.

 

Demetrike Wells

 

Demetrike Wells

Demetrike Wells joins the board with first-hand knowledge of the programming at Affirmations. As a teenager and young adult, he was a frequent attendee of the Youth Drop-In program at the center. Today, at 33, he works as a State Farm team member at Kandiss Ecton Insurance and Financial Services.

What is Affirmations to you?  

For more than 15 years, Affirmations has been a great source of emotional support and encouragement.  As a gay, Black teenager, Affirmations was the first — and only — space where I truly felt I belonged.  Through the friends and mentors I met at the Friday Night Drop-In, I gained the courage to come out and live my full truth. Through all the stages of my life so far, Affirmations has helped me become the person I am today.

What made you want to become more involved with the center?     

The LGBTQ community has made so much progress in recent years but there is still much more to be done. Organizations like Affirmations are needed now as much as ever. Within our polarized society, there remains too much alienation, depression, isolation, discrimination and a lack of understanding about our community. This lack of understanding and empathy exists within our community as well. In becoming more involved with the center, I hope to help Affirmations continue to be a part of the solution.

What is it that you bring to the board? 

As a Black, gay, millennial, I think I can offer a unique perspective. The needs of our community are diverse and my passion is to be a voice for that diverse community.  I look forward to listening, learning and working with my colleagues on the board to advance the mission and serve the evolving needs of a new generation.

What is the future of center and what are some of your personal goals for it?

In my eyes, the future of the center can be summarized in one word: growth! I’m excited to do all I can to build on Affirmations’ years of success to assist and empower more people than ever before. I believe the organization has the potential to reach more deeply into our region and perhaps beyond.

 

Brianna Yuille

Brianna Yuille

Brianna Yuille is the CEO and founder of Whittington Capital Intl LLC, a multi-million dollar trading firm specializing in identifying long-term market trends. She has over 10 years of experience programming telecommunications software, digital signal processing and designing and implementing computer networks and cybersecurity.

What is Affirmations to you?

In the same way a church is a physical representation of beliefs, Affirmations is the physical manifestation of equality filled with loving and accepting people.

What made you want to become more involved with the center?

The center had such a positive impact on my life. The support groups and health care are especially important to me. I really want to make Affirmations more widely known as a resource for anyone near southeastern Michigan.

What is it that you bring to the board?

I have a strategic mind specializing in financial markets of which a large component involves behavioral psychology. I truly believe understanding human psychology is important to ending discrimination.

What is the future of center and what are some of your personal goals for it?

I’d love the center to expand its health services and provide basic care for transgender and nonbinary people. Increasing social events post-COVID would be great. I feel this beautiful building is underutilized and would love to see more fun things happen to bring in members of the community who are maybe just looking to see or make friends. Most importantly, I want the mental health services to grow. I know there’s huge demand for one-on-one counseling and I’d love to see that met.

 

Find out more information about Affirmations online at goaffirmations.org.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.