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Stepping Forward into Servant Leadership

by Marie Sweeney, Director of DignityUSA

I have several family members in AA. When each of them receives a coin for additional time of recovery, someone in their AA group does the presentation. It may be the presenter or the entire group who poses the question, “So how did you do it (further recovery)? And the recipient always answers with the truth, “one day at a time.”

I was thinking about this question and response as we approach our Jubilee. After some of the demeaning and dangerous experiences many of us have endured, we ask, “How did we do it?” And our response is a bit different from that of AA. “We did it, trusting the Spirit to help us step forward.” It was on a day early in 1969, that Pax Nidorf, OSA decided he must gather the gay men he knew who were in pain.  He stepped forward. The next year, a wise Fr. Pax asked Bob Fourier to begin writing a constitution; and so Bob, a lay man, began with a statement of position and purpose.  Later that same year, Fr. Pax appointed Bob as the first General Chairman of Dignity. Bob stepped forward providentially so that when Pax was forced to resign his leadership of Dignity later that year, Bob’s leadership was already in place. The very next year, Joe Gilgamesh was elected President and began contacting interested folks around the country. One of those inquirers was John McNeill, SJ. John had already stepped  forward to theologize about the intersection of faith and sexuality; he now stepped forward to lead the creation of a New York chapter and become a national leader. Leaders stepped forward in Louisville, Ky, in Boston, in Chicago, in Washington DC… Dignity realized from the very early days that leadership could not be maintained by a single person, that many would be needed to “step forward” to keep us responding to the Spirit’s leanings.  

That stepping forward is our legacy. Leadership within Dignity follows in the footsteps of those who had the courage to step forward throughout our fifty years. And now is the time for DignityUSA members to continue  stepping forward for service on the national DignityUSA Board. Those of us who have provided servant leadership on the Board, know well that none of us walks alone. We each bring our skills, our time, and most importantly our love for Dignity and trust in the Spirit’s presence. Plus, in addition to the work, we have a really good time together! Check out the responsibilities of the Board, and then complete the Nominations Form.

Don’t hesitate to call any past or current Board members to listen to their experiences as part of your discernment. We especially encourage female-identified members, members of the YAC, those from the West Coast, and members who can provide racial and ethnic diversity on the Board. Dare to step forward into servant leadership.