North Star is a peer-led, community-driven organization—a grass-roots effort with a mission to empower men and women who experience same-sex attraction and gender identity issues, as well as their friends, spouses, or other family members, to more authentically and healthily live the gospel of Jesus Christ. North Star is successful because of the efforts of many individuals who contribute their time, talents, and hearts to various aspects of its mission.
Some men and women are simply happy to find support and encouragement with others who share this particular aspect of their life experience; others, however, also feel a strong desire to reach out to others who may be struggling and to help in the creation of other resources to bless others. You’ll find those in the former category active in our email discussion groups, our Facebook group, our Northern Lights blog, writing articles and essays for our website, sharing their stories through participation in the Voices of Hope Project, or attending any of the activities and events sponsored by North Star.
Those in the latter category help coordinate North Star’s efforts as part of the Executive Committee and Leadership Council. The Executive Committee is comprised of a revolving body of ten men and women whose responsibilities are to manage the North Star organization and facilitate community contributions, and the Leadership Council is comprised of a host of others who have expressed a desire to assist in realizing the mission and vision of North Star.
North Star Executive Committee
The current Executive Committee is comprised of the following:
President, Media RelationsSteven was born and raised in Idaho Falls, where he currently resides. He served a mission in Milan Italy, and taught at the MTC for 2 1/2 years while attending BYU where he met his wife on a blind date. Luckily she has been blind ever since. They enjoy three sons and a beautiful daughter, and recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. He graduated from Boise State University with a degree in accounting, and is a recovering CPA. After coming to his senses, he embarked on his career in commercial real estate.
Steven has served in numerous callings over the years, including scout master, gospel doctrine teacher, bishop, and dad. His involvement with North Star has included serving as a moderator and a member of the steering committee. He is grateful to enjoy the blessings of the gospel, in which he finds balance and peace.
Past President, Vice President of Leadership DevelopmentJeff attended both Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, receiving his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology. He served a French-speaking mission to Belgium Brussels. His professional experience is primarily in software engineering and real estate development. He loves to read, travel, and scuba dive. He has lived in both Virginia and Utah, where he currently resides. He and his wife of seven years are the grateful parents of one son.
Jeff is a founding member of the Executive Committee. He served as North Star’s Treasurer from its organization in December 2006 until January 2009 and has served as President since November 2008. His term as President will expire at the end of 2011.
Vice President of Online Outreach and CommunicationsA life-long member of the Church, Ty served in the Manchester New Hampshire mission and graduated from BYU in Asian Studies and Business Management. He is a practicing marriage and family therapist and currently lives with his wife and son in Texas doing doctoral work in family therapy. He enjoys playing racquetball, eating Thai food, and thinks that the greatest technological advancement of the 21st century was the invention of the iPhone (he might even be a little obsessed with it). He also loves to travel and has lived or studied internationally in Japan, China, Israel/Palestine, and Egypt.
Ty is a co-author with Fred and Marilyn Matis of In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction (Deseret Book, 2004), which includes a personal memoir of his spiritual journey as a member of the Church who experiences homosexual attraction. He has also compiled Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction (Deseret Book, 2011), an anthology of gospel teachings by a number of prominent LDS inspirational writers, as well as a number of personal essays written by LDS men and women who have first-hand experience with the issue of same-gender attraction.
Ty is a founding member of the Executive Committee, serving as one of North Star’s Vice Presidents since its organization in December 2006.
Vice PresidentDian attended BYU and the University of Wyoming back in the days when term papers were engraved in reformed Egyptian upon metal plates. She graduated with a new baby, a Bachelors degree in Music theory and composition, and one in piano performance; then spent three years as a graduate student and ended up with two more babies and a Master’s degree in performance. She now operates her own private studio and performs and accompanies frequently.
Aaron Bretones accepted Dian’s marriage proposal during her second year at BYU. Their three amazing children manage to make life simultaneously joyful and bewildering. Because she has difficulty not becoming bored with just one thing, Dian trained to become a tax preparer and works with a financial services company, preparing the returns for their corporate and private clients. Three years ago she became a registered financial advisor and now serves as their compliance officer. In her spare time she indexes clips for an online film archive.
Dian has been interested in North Star since the idea was first presented to her (before the website existed), and has served as person-who-helped-choose-the-pictures for the website. She has served on the Executive Committee since 2009, first as Treasurer and now as a Vice President.
Vice President of Events and ConferencesTyler earned bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University after earning a culinary arts degree from Utah Valley State College. He attended graduate school in California, earning his juris doctorate in 2009. He loves spending time with his beautiful wife, and their three spry children. Tyler and his wife both grew up in Utah, and are glad to call it home. Tyler has a great passion for cooking and good food in general. His wife also holds a culinary degree; Tyler admits she is a better baker than he is. As far as the better cook, that title is still up for grabs (though Tyler’s convinced it should go to him).
Tyler began his involvement with North Star in April of 2008, and feels it an honor to give back to such a great community. He has served as North Star’s Secretary from January 2009 to September 2010 and now serves as a Vice President.
Vice President of FundraisingA native of Bloomington, Indiana, Harding graduated from the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University and earned an MBA in Marketing from Loyola Marymount University. After graduation, he moved to the Washington, DC area where he served in a number of executive positions within the architecture/engineering professions. He currently serves as President and Chief Recruiting Officer of The Talent Bank, Inc., an executive search firm specializing in architecture, engineering, construction and real estate positions. An accomplished author, he has published over 300 articles in trade, professional and non-profit publications. He and his wife, Dawn, were married in 1987, and have four married sons in their 20s and four young grandchildren who call him “Beans.”
A convert to the Church in 1985 at the age of 30, Kerry has served in numerous church callings including branch presidencies, bishoprics, district presidencies, ward mission leader, stake mission presidencies, high council, and stake emergency preparedness director. He currently serves as the Employment Director for the Washington DC Stake.. He serves on the Board of Advisors for Southern Virginia University, BYU’s Marriott School of Management, Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning and the Corcoran College of Design and is involved in numerous trade, civic and philanthropic organizations. In his rare moments of free time, he loves watching college lacrosse as well as any sport that has either Tim Tebow, Bryce Harper or Jimmer Fredette. Harding has been involved in North Star since Summer 2012, and has spearheaded North Star’s Voices of Hope project since its inception.
Vice President of Marketing and OutreachLaurie received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She has worked as a copywriter in advertising ever since. During that time, she has also done volunteer work counseling Latter-day Saints who experience same-sex attraction. More recently, she received her Master of Science degree in Community Mental Health Counseling, which has helped in her volunteer counseling work as well as her role as a wife and mother of three wonderful kids. She and her husband have been married 19 years and figure that’s a good start on an eternal marriage.
Using the pen name Erin Eldridge, Laurie wrote a book about her experiences with same-sex attraction entitled Born That Way? (Deseret Book, 1994). She is now completing an updated edition of that book entitled Born That Way, 20 Years Later along with a new book called Reborn That Way. She is an enthusiastic, recent addition to the Executive Committee of North Star.
Vice President of Design & TechnologyLuis left the great state of Texas to attend Utah Valley University, where in 2010, he received a Bachelor’s of Science in Digital Media. He is proficient in a variety of multimedia technology ranging from graphic and web design to video editing and motion graphics. In addition to various freelance projects, Luis currently teaches lower-division graphic design classes at IADT, which he is loving more and more every day. Within the church, he has served as a Priesthood Instructor, Activities co-chair, a Counselor in two Elders Quorum Presidencies, and his favorite calling so far– teaching ten year-olds in the Primary. Now residing in Nevada, he and his wonderful wife of four years, are the proud parents of one angelic little girl.
In 2010, Luis became an active member of the Steering Committee offering his perspective and technological expertise in current and future North Star online endeavors. He was invited to join the Executive Committee in October 2011. In also having close family members who personally deal with these complex issues, Luis feels deeply about the mission of North Star and highly esteems its community. He is honored and excited to help move this great work forward.
Treasurer & Online Community CoordinatorJimmy Merrell is native of Arizona. At 16 he picked pineapples in Maui, Hawaii for a year to finance his mission. He served his mission to the Deaf in Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Boston. Attended school at Arizona State University and became a Board Certified Music Therapist. Professionally, he has worked as an Interpreter, a Researcher and Music Therapist He has also served in various callings including Interpreter Coordinator, Sunday School President, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Choir Director, Ward Mission Leader, and is currently serving as the First Counselor in his ward Bishopric.
Jimmy has found serenity in the knowledge that Heavenly Father loves and cares for His children and has found strength in the daily exercise of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Finally, Jimmy has been a member of North Star discussion groups since July of 2009 and has served as a moderator for the Men’s group, on the steering committee, and is humbled to serve as Online Groups Coordinator, and Treasurer
SecretaryStephan was born and raised in Germany, where he also attended the Wuerttemberg Academy for Administration and Business Management in Stuttgart. He received his Bachelors degree in Business Information Systems, and also holds an Associates Degree as a Health Insurance Counselor. He is a professional SAP Business Consultant, Project – and Program Manager.
He and his wife moved to Michigan in 2011 with their children. Stephan enjoys his time with his wife and four children and tries to get as much time with them as possible. He has been married for nine years and doesn’t want to miss a single day of it. Moving to a new country was a totally new experience, but as long as his family was with him he didn’t care where he lived, but his heart will always belong to Germany and Europe.
The Leadership Council is open to committed Latter-day Saints who sustain the doctrines and teachings of the Church and who feel a sense of mission around strengthening and educating members of the Church with regard to same-gender attraction, gender identity, and related issues. Because of the breadth of our audience, we need men, women, parents, spouses, family members, friends, and interested priesthood and auxiliary leaders who are willing to share their perspectives, visions, and talents with us as we seek to jointly create a safe, loving, and integrated place in the Church for individuals and families dealing with these issues. Learn more or apply to join.
Trace was born and raised in Hyrum, Utah. He is an Eagle Scout and served an LDS mission to San Juan Puerto Rico. He also served in the Army Reserves as a commissioned officer for 10 years. He graduated from Utah State University and has worked for Knight Transportation for the past 19 years.
He met his lovely wife on a blind date and fell instantly in love. They are the proud parents of 4 children, three beautiful daughters, one handsome son, and an adorable grandson. He loves to run, hike and ski, and being in the great outdoors. He has run 27 marathons and qualified for the Boston Marathon 3 times. He has held various church callings. He is most famous for his homemade baked bread. He is excited to be part of such a great community of brothers and sisters and joined North Star in July of 2012.
A native of Salt Lake City, at 16, George and his family moved to Graham, Washington. He later served a mission in Russia Saint Petersburg, returning to attend the University of Washington, majoring in Russian Language and Literature and minoring in Medical Ethics and History. After completing his medical studies there, he completed his residency in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in New Hampshire and still loves autumn in New England. He is currently completing his fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at Oregon Health and Science University and has been accepted to Creighton University to complete a Master’s in Healthcare Ethics during his second and third year of fellowship.
George married his wife Shellie in 2002 in the Seattle temple and lives in the Portland, Oregon area with his three children who he loves and adores. In his spare time, George enjoys having dance parties with his family and especially enjoys hip-hop dancing. He also enjoys hiking, board games, and having a good time with friends. George hopes that his participation on the Leadership Council will help others to feel the Savior’s love and have a desire to cling to Him fervently, unyieldingly, and forever. It’s his greatest desire that individuals with SSA know how much their Heavenly Father loves them and the peace and joy that can come from diligently living the restored gospel.
Megan lives in the Salt Lake area and has been married to her husband since 2006; they have a beautiful, smart, and stubborn little girl. Megan has worked with Evergreen International, North Star and People Can Change planning, attending, and staffing growth and healing work since then. She is an avid reader and enjoys playing games, cross-stitching, running, the outdoors, watching movies, spending time with family and friends, and most of all, going out to eat with her husband, as they get to spend time together and she doesn’t have to cook! Megan graduated from BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and enjoys teaching part-time and mothering and wife-ing full-time.
Pam has a degree in generating energy and happiness, working on graduating magna cum laude from life’s teachings. She taught high school for 13 years in Minnesota, was appointed by the Governor (the infamous Jesse Ventura) to head up his task force teaching Service Learning in the state of Minnesota, and has been a professional trainer/speaker. She came to Utah as the Executive Director of an assisted living center in SLC, exchanging her love of high school seniors for senior citizens! She now tutors at the Rippy Literacy Center in Lehi.
Pam loves the youth, serving as a Young Women’s President 3 times, as a missionary with her husband for the Laotian people in Minneapolis, as Stake Education Counselor in the Relief Society, and now serving with her husband as the YSA couple in the Saratoga Springs 1st Ward. One of her greatest joys is moderating the North Star Friends and Family online discussion group, and organizing regular Moms’ Luncheon.
As a newborn, Pam was adopted. Forty years later, her birth family found her. This story is one of miracles and shows the hand of the Lord in our lives-even when we least expect it. Learning to recognize and even expect miracles in our own lives, is a gift given to us. Being the mother of a gay son, Pam has experienced many miracles of the extraordinary nature through this joyous-and, occasionally, not-so-joyous-experience. Learning to find the joy can be well worth the ride!
Mandi was born and raised in Davis County, Utah. She Served and LDS mission to the Baltic States, Lithuanian speaking. She Graduated from Utah State University in 2007 with a B.A. in French. One year later she moved to Western Washington State. She has served in the church as a Family History Coordinator, a councilor in multiple Relief Society presidencies, and is currently a Primary worker and her ward Single Adult representative. She also enjoys giving talks in sacrament meeting. Mandi has a really boring day job, but makes up for that by playing guitar, writing music, and skating in figure skating competitions and shows. She loves cooking, learning languages, and writing short stories in her free time. She came across the North Star in the summer of 2012, and immediately wanted to do something to contribute to the important dialogue and message of hope and understanding she saw conveyed here. She is honored to help contribute her talents to help and reach out to others through this group.
Myrna was raised in Centerville, Utah and currently resides in Syracuse, Utah with her husband of twenty-one years and their beautiful, energetic daughter. She attended Ricks College, studying Physical Education before serving a mission in Oakland California where she worked with the Spanish speaking people. Myrna loves working with people and spent many years as a customer service agent and supervisor for inbound phone sales. Currently, she works for the school district in the transportation department and loves the contact with the children and their parents.
Myrna loves watching all sports and is an avid BYU fan. She also enjoys reading, family history, puzzles, riding her bike, wood working, and trying new hobbies. She often challenges her family with her spur of the moment ideas. However, they usually end up enjoying the adventure in the end. Myrna has served in many positions in the churchincluding callings in Primary and Relief Society on a ward and stake level.
Myrna joined the Northstar group after finding great comfort that others wanted to follow the LDS standards while dealing with same sex attraction. She wants to bring that comfort to others. She loves her Savior and strives to be like her Heavenly Father. She prays that others can find comfort and acceptance in the Northstar community and peace through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Michael’s bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State University led him to 34 wonderful years of teaching band and orchestra in Utah’s public schools. Although he is now retired, he continues to teach privately and to perform as a French horn player, notably in the Orchestra at Temple Square, a calling he has enjoyed since 2002. Although he grew up in Blackfoot, Idaho, he has made his home in Utah’s Davis County where he and his first wife, Joanne, reared eight children. They are now all grown and married with children of their own—33 grandchildren for Michael to enjoy. Joanne died in 2010 after battling Alzheimer’s Disease for 12 years.
Michael has since remarried. Ann is a beautiful and articulate woman, supporting Michael in the emotional challenges that his same-gender attraction present. They are both committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have served in various leadership roles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Michael loves to cook and Ann graciously eats his creations. She admires his watercolor paintings, and encourages him in his family history research. Michael joined the North Star Leadership Council in 2012, desiring to give to others the life-saving hope that he has received from the organization over the last few years.
Josh grew up on a family potato farm in Idaho. He served a mission to Taiwan and looks for opportunities to speak Chinese at Chinese restaurants in Idaho. He graduated with degrees in both Agriculture and Construction Management. A licensed CPA, Josh currently serves as a consulting financial manager to farms of all sizes. Josh has a passion for finish carpentry and farm work and even earned 1st place title for fastest potato picker at Shelley, Idaho’s Annual Spud Day. When not working, Josh can be found reading, water/snow skiing, make music videos, or acting dumb around family and friends. A member of the North Star Leadership Council since 2012, he is currently serving as a cameraman for, an editor of, and a participant in North Star’s Voices of Hope project. He also assists with compiling of web content for the North Star website.