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Affirmations hires new executive director

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published February 25, 2015

 Darrious Hilmon

Darrious Hilmon

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FERNDALE — After nearly a yearlong search, Affirmations, a nonprofit community center in Ferndale that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, has hired a new executive director.

The Affirmations board chose Detroit native Darrious Hilmon as the next executive director almost 12 months after former director Dave Garcia stepped down from the position.

“The main goal was to find somebody that understood and could foster a culture of inclusion and diversity, and at the same time execute the strategic vision of the organization, so in that way, I think we knocked it out of the park,” board President Frank Aiello said. “If you look at Darrious’ résumé, he has great experience in nonprofits with a diversity of issues. His role has been in fund development, but he has really shown the ability to think strategically to bring things to the next level.”

Hilmon has nearly 20 years of experience in fund development, event management and marketing. Currently, Hilmon serves as vice president and chief development officer for the Chicago Urban League and previously worked with Youth Guidance, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.

Hilmon graduated from the University of Michigan and has written two novels as well as an anthology.

“I am awed by the passion and commitment of Affirmations’ board, staff and volunteers,” Hilmon said in a press release. “The opportunity to help lead this incredible organization into its next chapter of service to metro Detroit’s LGBT community is beyond exciting.”

Hilmon is expected to start his new position in March in order to finish commitments in Chicago, but he will begin communicating with the Affirmations board and staff immediately to allow a smooth transition. Hilmon could not be reached by press time.

The selection of Hilmon was the result of a national search led by WBB+McCormack. Garcia stepped down from his position in February of last year to pursue different opportunities, but Director of Communications Cass Varner said it took some time to find the right search firm.

“The first round we went through, we narrowed down to two candidates but ended up not deciding on any candidate and went with an entirely new search firm and new process,” Varner said. “The new firm selected candidates, and we brought it down to four and then two and brought the final two in for presentations.”

Varner said they wanted to make sure they found the right candidate, and that process took time.

“I think for the most part it was wanting to be particular about getting the right person in here,” she said. “We have a very specific community we work with, a specific niche, and we have to make sure we meet the community’s needs, and the person we have in this role has to be equipped to do that. We had a whole list of criteria to make sure they were meeting, so it was definitely a long process.”

When Hilmon arrives in March, Varner and Aiello said, Hilmon will work first on integrating himself with the current staff, but one of his biggest projects will be to help form a new strategic plan. Hilmon will be introduced to the community April 11 during the Spring Bash event at the Fillmore Detroit.

“We just completed our last three-year strategic plan, so first and foremost we want his interest in partnering with the board to develop a strategic plan for the next three years,” Aiello said. “We have to set what the priorities are for the center and where we are going in the future.”

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