2019 North Star Conference Presenter Biographies
Breakout Presenters (Alphabetical Order)
- A native Arizonian, Vaughn grew up in an active household with five other siblings. As a return missionary and graduate from BYU; Vaughn recognized his attractions to men while in college. His desire to live by faith and his own personal covenants set him on a difficult path of discovery which lead him to North Star. He’s grateful for the support, resources, personal growth, friendships, forgiveness, and miracles he’s experienced while on his journey.
- Curtis has spent the last 10 years seeking healing in his own life. Through this journey, he became certified as a life coach and received training in various healing modalities for emotional and psychological healing. Curtis helped found a non-profit organization, Discover Identity, to help people learn about emotional intelligence, identity, and grief recovery. He has been married to his wife Tera for 25 years and have four children.
- Tera’s healing journey began four years ago when she awoke from a lifelong pattern of avoiding and denying her emotions. Since then, she has staffed many support groups and experiential weekends. She has also co-led and presented at several conferences. She is a Certified Life Coach specializing in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Tera and her husband Curtis have been married 22 years and have four children.
- Mark’s journey has been one of navigating growth and change. Originally from Wyoming, he currently lives in Modesto, owns an insurance agency, has three daughters, and was divorced after 29 years of marriage. He served a mission in Argentina and earned a degree in Family Financial Planning and Counseling from BYU. He is currently Ward Choir Director and Ward Historian/Newsletter Editor and also serves on the North Star Executive Committee as Vice President of Online Communities.
- Laurie is a Nationally Certified Counselor with a masters degree in counseling. As a 30 volunteer veteran, she has helped and supported fellow SSA/LGBTC+ individuals. In 1994, she wrote and published Deseret Book’s first book on SSA entitled, “Born That Way?” using a pseudonym. Then in 2013, she wrote “Reborn that Way” under her married name. She has a video on the Mormon and Gay website.
- Although, Jeff was born in upstate New York, he grew up all over the world as a military child. As an adult, he attended BYU earning degrees in Music and Psychology, spent eight years as a clinical psychologist in the Army, and currently provides counseling services to military veterans and their families. He has been married to his best friend Sarah for 21 years; they are the parents of three children and live in Utah County.
Coe, Don & Deborah
Condie, Ganel -Lyn
- Ganel-Lyn is a popular motivational speaker known for inspiring others with her honesty, authenticity, and spirit. After the heartbreaking suicide of her sister, she constantly works towards awareness and prevention. She has an open heart and feels passionate about sharing principles that empower others to live a joyful life. She loves growing older with her husband Rob and two children; having healed from a major chronic illness she aims to keep learning and loving.
- Tonya is married to her high school sweetheart, is a mother, and grandmother. She graduated from BYUI in Marriage and Family Studies and is a Rapid Eye Technician and Life Skills Coach. She assists individuals in treating emotional trauma, releasing limiting beliefs, and damaging family patterns. “We cannot lift anyone onto any higher ground than that upon which we stand. We often experience what we are not, to come to know who we truly are.”
- As a teen Preston moved to Utah with his family. He’s been married for 13 years; with four children and a fifth on the way. Stella, their "Angel daughter," passed after birth. He works as a Director of Surgical Services for Intermountain Healthcare. He has a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and practices as a LAMFT counselor specializing in helping individuals overcome obstacles that prevent them from determining their own path through life.
- Taryn was born and raised on a dairy farm in Draper, Utah. She and her husband of 13 years currently reside in Lehi, Utah where she is a stay at home mom. She loves serving in the immunocompromised intensive care unit at primary children’s hospital, has completed various humanitarian trips around the world, works with local refugees, and volunteers to stop child trafficking.
- Marianne was a therapist with LDS Family Services in 1986. In 2008 she moved to Paris and was called by the European Area Presidency to help establish LDS Family Services in French-speaking Europe. In 2012, she met her husband and moved to the US where she works as a consultant and coach. She is a mother of six and grandmother to eight with a masters degree in education, guidance, and counseling.
- Brent has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints his whole life and served a mission in Argentina. He and Courtney married in 2004 and have five children. A year after they were sealed in the temple, Brent shared that he experiences same-sex attraction. It took them to the brink of separation; but through consistent communication, compassion, and love they have been able to find hope in their future together.
- Courtney is excited to be facilitating a panel this year at the North Star Conference. Her passions in life are her five children; Brent, her husband of 15 years; and the gospel. Courtney is very driven and loves setting goals and going after them. She is grateful for the North Star community, for the resources she has received from it, and the support it gives to others. Courtney and Brent currently reside in Southern California.
- Brittany lives in California with her husband and three kids. She became aware of her feelings of being gay at twelve years old and began her journey into figuring out how they fit into God's plan. Brittany found North Star when she was letting go of the shame that she had felt about being gay; embracing who she is and God’s love for her. Brittany found a sense of connection and belonging and loves being a part of this community.
- Kurt is the Executive Director and host of Leading Saints, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping LDS lay leaders be better prepared to lead. He enjoys drawing caricatures, playing basketball, reading, and watching college football. He served a mission in Sacramento, was an elder’s quorum president, executive secretary, bishopric counselor, bishop, and served in the stake presidency. He currently lives in Holladay, Utah with is his wife Alanna and two children.
- Kim is an International Human Behavior Expert, professional speaker, and author. She's best known for her KSL articles, books, and podcasts and has a unique way of making psychology, mental, emotional, and social health simple and easy. She helps people around the world eliminate suffering and gain clarity. She has created a new approach to understanding thinking and eliminating fear that causes negative thoughts and bad behaviors.
Green, Mark & Tricia
- Mark and his wife Tricia feel blessed to be in love with their best friend. They spent five and a half years getting to know each other before marrying in 2017 in the Provo City Center Temple. Their love helps them navigate the unique experience of what it means to be transgender and Mormon. Avid outdoors people, Mark and Tricia enjoy spending time together, watching movies, and playing board games. Mark fixes sprinklers and Tricia teaches sixth grade. They live in Riverton, Utah, with their thirteen geese, four peacocks, and spunky dog.
- Dan is a licensed clinical social worker and Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT). He is co-founder of the LifeSTAR Network, a program which provides counseling for individuals and couples dealing with problems related to sexual addictions and compulsive behaviors. Dan has co-authored several books on these subjects, including: Confronting Pornography: A Guide to Prevention and Recovery for Individuals, Loved Ones, and Leaders. He has trained therapists throughout the United States, Eastern Europe, and China.
- Born Methodist, Ed's parents joined the LDS church when he was about four years old. He grew up in Illinois but moved to Utah in 2001. Ed met his wife at BYU after a mission to Japan-Fukuoka. They then married and moved to Japan to be near her family. He's an entrepreneur and worked overseas for about 12 years. Ben and his wife have two children. He loves spending time with family, singing, camping, and hiking.
- Blaine has worked in Northern Utah for nine years as an Inpatient Therapist at McKay-Dee Hospital and at Aspire Counseling group until four years ago when he started his own practice where he helps both single and married individuals who experience issues surrounding sexual orientation, gender identity, internal conflict of religious beliefs, and sexual identity. Blaine has been married to Lindsay for 14 years and have three boys.
- Bryan was born and raised in Clinton, Utah. After serving a mission in Oklahoma he graduated from USU with a bachelors in Marketing. Bryan began his journey fifteen years ago which led him to North Star. He has a deep love for the Savior and a strong testimony of the gospel. He currently serves as elders quorum president in his mid-singles ward. He loves spending time with family and friends and being active outdoors.
- Diana grew up in Madison, WI. She served in the Washington Tacoma Mission then taught at the MTC. As a published author, she has served in many callings in the church and has spoken in stakes for over 20 years. Diana resides in Spring, Texas with her family. She has a burning desire to share the gospel and the spiritual gift to bare her testimony to others.
- BYU graduate, Eric earned his masters and doctorate in ancient history from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at BYU and BYU Jerusalem Center and was coordinator of the Ancient Near Eastern Studies Program in the Kennedy Center for International Studies. An avid published author, he has spoken at BYU Education Week, Women’s Conference, and TOFW. He’s a member of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. He and his wife Elaine have two children.
- Debby found North Star in 2013 after her youngest child came out as SSA. She then co-chaired the 2014/2015 conferences. A convert, return missionary, and BYU graduate; she works at BYU in the School of Communications. She enjoys an active life and visiting her eight grandchildren. She loves the Gospel and believes that our challenges strengthen us and increase our faith in Him; and it’s up to us to help each other make our way back to Him.
- Preston was born and raised in Las Vegas. He served a mission in Tokyo but returned home early due to injury. After several years of struggling with his sexual identity and his spirituality, he chose to remain a member of the church and finished his mission in Atlanta. Preston's story was shared in Elder Holland's General Conference Address, "Behold Thy Mother." He resides in Provo, attends BYU, and teaches at the MTC.
- Brandon and his wife live in Eagle Mountain with their four children. He is a licensed clinical social worker at Highland Springs Specialty Clinic and Encircle House. He came out five years ago as transgender. They have written an essay for North Star’s Journeys of Faith project and appeared on the Listen, Learn and Love Podcast. Brandon enjoys sharing his story with others as a way to provide hope for others in similar situations.
- As a child, one of Quinn’s most vivid memories was being sealed to her parents in the Los Angeles Temple. As an adult, she moved to Utah for work. Four years ago, she discovered North Star when she was looking for a community to support her in her experiences with same-sex attraction. Quinn enjoys living in Utah, being an aunt, and leading an active lifestyle.
- Rosalinda is an entrepreneur, wife, mom, and yogi who helps people find transformation. She has learned so much on her yoga mat: how to breathe and surrender, find peace among the stress, and learning that working through the pain heals the pain. She’s staffed experiential weekends and retreats. She’s her daughter’s #1 soccer fan and Bronson’s eternal companion. It brings her pleasure to share her personal experience of strength and hope with the North Star.
- Scott has a diverse background in sales, concrete construction, and archery hunting in the great outdoors. He has served in countless church callings and is currently the bishop of a young single adult ward. He has put into practice much of what he has learned as a father of a gay son. The Mackintosh Story is a featured video on the Mormon and Gay website.
- A lifetime of preparation has made Shelley a powerful and engaging presenter. She is not only a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in private practice, but also has taught Behavioral Health Education at UVU. She attends a women’s group; including spouses of SSA men. Her most cherished roles are that of mother and grandma. She loves seeking truth and helping facilitate positive change. She also loves adventures including hiking, biking, and camping.
- Livier was born and raised in Mexico. After graduating from Law School, she served in the Mexico City Northwest Mission. Later she moved to Utah where she felt the need to talk to someone about her same gender attraction. She reached out to a mission companion who recommended North Star. Being an SSA woman is a blessing that has allowed her to grow closer to the Savior and to open her heart to serve others unconditionally.
- Ann served a mission in London and married in the Bountiful Temple 19 years ago. After 15 years of marriage, she could no longer keep the secret that she was transgender. Instead of divorcing, they have chosen to stay together even though at times this has been extremely difficult for them. They live in Syracuse with their 14-year-old daughter and are passionate about bringing more understanding and awareness of LGBTQ members to the church.
- Recently returned to church activity, Neil is anxious to help others discover or rekindle what is missing from experiencing a fullness of life through his calling as a ward missionary. An obsessive interior designer, devoted dog-dad, doting uncle, and ever-improving disciple of Christ, Neil's life now feels fuller and richer. He has no doubt that the Savior can make more of us than we can make of ourselves.
- Kara has been practicing as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Salt Lake City for the past eight years. In her private practice she works with people from a broad range of faiths and enjoys learning from the various stories and experiences she hears. She is an active member of the LGBTQ Affirmative Therapists Guild of Utah and supervises students in the University of Utah CMHC program.
- Andy is the host of the More Happy Life podcast, a published author, and a social media professional whose writings on mindfulness, the science of happiness, and life purpose have been featured in both academic and religious publications. He has built and managed social media pages that have reached hundreds of millions. Despite his uncertainty in his faith journey, his study of positive psychology has helped him to build an abundant, beautiful, and thriving life.
- Originally from Washington, Ben now lives in Provo and will be graduating from BYU in April with a masters in Social Work. In his spare time, he works as an intern at LDS Family Services. Fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese, Ben’s lived abroad in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, and Portugal. He currently serves in his ward’s Sunday School presidency and as an ordinance worker in the Provo Temple..
- Rebecca, her husband, and three children live in Central Florida. Homeschooled during her early years, she became a part-time professional photographer, earned her associates in graphic design, and became an ASL Interpreter. They became grandparents when her oldest daughter adopted a child. Their son came out as experiencing SSA five years ago. Their youngest daughter came out as pan-romantic and asexual a year and a half ago and recently become engaged to a transgender young man.
- Jana is a certified Integral Professional Coach whose work focuses on helping people affected by faith transition find balance and beauty in diversity and growth. The goal of her work is to strengthen self-determination, heal and strengthen relationships with others, and enable deep and lasting developmental growth in her clients. She lives in Holladay, Utah with her husband and three children, and is an active member of the LDS church.
- Tim is a dedicated, truth-seeking, Christ-following individual who is passionate about writing, curating, and family. As a professional artist, 25-year veteran professor, and published author; Tim enjoys teaching young adults at George Fox University in Oregon. He published his book, "A Bigger World Yet; Faith, Brotherhood, and Same-Sex Needs," in 2011. He continues to seek the Spirit’s influence in all aspects of his daily life.
- Alma was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her family joined the church when she was seven years old, and are the only members of the church on both sides of the family. Alma left the church a few months after she came out in January 1997 but returned in July of 2009 hungry for the gospel in her life again. She has been married to her eternal companion David for five years, and they have two rambunctious boys that keep life busy.
- Originally from Northern Virginia, Bryan has lived in Utah since returning from his mission to Idaho. He attended BYU where he met his wife Aleta and currently works as a school psychologist for Provo City School District. They are parents to four children and live in Springville, Utah. Bryan enjoys BYU sports, running, playing the guitar, writing music, sharing his testimony. He and his wife are grateful for every chance he has to share Holland’s story.