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A Fond Farewell from President Lewis Speaks-Tanner

Being President of DignityUSA has been the culmination of a journey that first started when I became a member in 1985 – pre-Ratzinger, pre-Halloween letter, the time before our mass expulsions from parishes.   I have been actively involved in Dignity for two-thirds of its existence.  I grew up with Dignity. It is my home.

It has been a labor of love to serve Dignity in so many capacities – director, secretary, vice president and president.

I could not have done this work as President without a wonderful board of directors over the last two years. Your board of directors works hard.  The board has connected with over 25 chapter communities as we traveled around the country for our meetings. 

We had a fabulous conference in Boston – tremendous thanks go to the National Conference Committee and the Boston committee for envisioning and living the Conference theme, “A Place at the Table”.  

With the approval of DignityUSA members, we expanded our Statement of Position and Purpose to include queer and intersex persons.

We will continue to have our challenges – whether it’s the hierarchy or local, state and national government.  History will judge us by how we deal with them.  I am confident we will be able meet those challenges by our growth.

Our voice has grown stronger over the years by having such a passionate membership who believes in our mission and vision.  We do it by having a wonderful staff.   We do it by having volunteers who want to see DignityUSA succeed.   And we do it with your contributions from dues, your response to the various appeals, the monthly donors who give from $5 to $500 or more a month.   We thank you for your generous support.

We should be proud of our participation and leadership in this movement and we should know that our fight is not over.  Our relevance as a faith filled organization, engaged in advocacy, and inspired by the witness of so many, is stronger than ever.

I am proud to have had the opportunity to join so many dedicated leaders before me to get to this time.  And I count in the leaders yet to come to bring us through the challenges and changes ahead.

The Board is thankful to and for all of you – for the many ways that you have supported and been engaged in the work.  We also need to ask you to stay connected, faithful, and generously give to the next steps yet to come.

It has been for me personally an honor and a privilege to have worked alongside many skilled and committed individuals these past 2 years as president.  No one can do this work alone. I give deep thanks to my partner in crime, Alice, who has only been a phone call away.   We really have been a great team and for that I am grateful. 

We have counted with efficient officers in Glenn and Bob.  And all Board members who have given generously of time, talent and treasure.  I expected almost everything that happened when I accepted the call – the push – to be President.  Being President is so much different than any office!   This board has been the best!   They take their work seriously but at the same time are able to laugh.   We have had fun!

My mentors have been Sam Sinnett, Peggy Burns, Mark Matson, and Lourdes Rodrgiuez-Nogues.   I consider them friends.  They have led DignityUSA in partnership and led it well. 

I have been truly blessed to work alongside Marianne Duddy-Burke.    She is a brilliant and strategic leader and her work made it so easy for me to be President.   To have competent and committed people around us like Peggy, Logan, …I am very grateful for the many ways they have helped the Board in the last 2 years.  We can’t thank them enough.

I am proud to have come from the New York chapter.  They have supported the work of DignityUSA and support it – by generously supporting USA with funds, and by being a strong community of faith nourishing me spiritually at every step.  Thank you.

The power of our own personal energy and ability to do what we have committed to do always comes from those behind us.  The Women of Dignity hold a special place in my heart.   Many have prayed and supported me in so many ways.  

I am eternally grateful for the love, support, and understanding of Ben, my spouse.  I can’t say he was always happy of my many travels, phone calls, or hours returning e-mails and yet he was unwaveringly supportive.  With an ever-present sense of humor, keeping me on task – “don’t you have a call tonight?”; cooking me delicious meals for me every night, cheering me and most of all loving me unconditionally, he has been quite the “first husband.”  My love and gratitude to him, always.

Every action, every witness, every small step, and every gigantic one is what it takes to build Dignity into the future. 

We are onto something, let’s keep it going, Dignity.  I will continue to join you all in the journey ahead.

Lewis Speaks-Tanner

Outgoing President, DignityUSA

September 30, 2017






Source: DignityUSA