Nancy McDonald became the new national president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) at a ceremony held Sunday, October 13, 1996, at the close of PFLAG's 15th Anniversary Annual Conference. The conference was PFLAG's largest ever -- attended by more than 1,000 PFLAG members from across the country and around the world -- and took place in the Washington, D.C. area, October 11-14, 1996. Mitzi Henderson, President of PFLAG since 1992, passed her leadership torch to PFLAG Vice President Nancy McDonald, after the Board of Directors elected McDonald to serve as its next president.
McDonald, an education consultant and mother of a lesbian daughter, co-founded the PFLAG Chapter in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was a PFLAG Regional Director from 1991-1995, and Vice President of PFLAG's national Board of Directors from 1995-1996. Her other community leadership positions include serving as President of the HIV Resource Consortium Board of Directors and Vice President of the Community Service Council. She is on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas and works with a summer camp for gifted and talented children called Great Expectations. McDonald and her husband Joe have five children and five grandchildren.
"Thousands of PFLAG families have been buoyed by our support network, but thousands more still seek our accepting environment," McDonald said. "Communities across this country have listened as we have denounced negative stereotyping, but we have more friends, neighbors, school boards and community leaders to educate. PFLAG members have testified before legislatures and written letters to their government representatives. Many politicians, however, still need to hear our family voices. Together we can celebrate our history, and together we can recommit ourselves to our mission of support, education and advocacy."
Henderson, who will remain active by heading PFLAG's new Fund for the Future, a program designed to ensure the financial security of the organization, praised the Board's choice of McDonald. "During my presidency, Nancy has been a trusted counselor," she said as she turned her office over to McDonald. "She is extremely committed to the mission of PFLAG, and her skills are so evident -- I have absolute confidence that PFLAG will flourish under her leadership."
PFLAG members gathered at the 15th Anniversary Conference to build skills, strengthen internal networks and celebrate their families. Highlights of the Conference included a reception honoring openly gay Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.), welcoming remarks by former White House liaison to the gay and lesbian community, Marsha Scott, and a "Toast to Families" featuring PFLAG's newest members, Cher and lesbian daughter Chastity Bono.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons, their families, and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and secure civil rights. PFLAG provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation, and acts to create a society that is healthy, and respectful of diversity. Founded in 1981, PFLAG is now organized in more than 400 communities in every state, with 65,000 household members.