With decades of experience in claiming space inside the institutional Church, the LDS community, and/or the Mormon intellectual community, this all-star panel will talk about how they have carved out a space in and around Mormonism. 


Join us for an incredible panel on Friday, July 29, 2016 from 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m


Salt Lake Tribune humor columnist Robert Kirby was raised in a military family. Following an LDS mission to South America, Kirby became a police officer. After eleven years he left law enforcement to pursue the idiotic notion of becoming a writer. 

            Robert has been Tribune’s fool in residence since 1994. His culture column appears every Thursday,Saturday, and Sunday, where it is closely followed by church and world leaders. He is the author of 10 books, most recently “The Essential Kirby Canon.” 

            The recipient of a number of literary awards, Kirby is most proud of being named grand marshal of the 2010 Green River Melon Days Parade. He lives in Herriman, Utah, with one wife, three married daughters, and nine grandkids.


Carol Lynn Pearson is the author of over 40 books and plays that together have sold over 800,000 copies—autobiography, inspiration, humor, and fiction. Her memoir Goodbye, I Love You tells the story of her marriage to a gay man, their divorce, ongoing friendship, and her caring for him as he died of AIDS. This story made her a guest on such programs as “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and “Good Morning, America.” She was featured in “People Magazine.” Her Mormon audience knows her ongoing work on LGBT issues as well as her work for women. A stage play, Facing East, the story of a Mormon couple dealing with the suicide of their gay son, premiered in Salt Lake City, had a limited Off-Broadway run and a San Francisco run. She wrote and performed over 300 times internationally a one-woman play, “Mother Wove the Morning,” in which she plays sixteen women throughout history in search of the female face of God, and which earned an award from “Booklist” as “one of the top 25 videos of the year.”

She has been a featured speaker at numerous events as diverse as the International Conference of the Sisters of Mercy, the National Association of Women Judges, and the International Conference of the Red Hat Society. Carol Lynn is an active member of her ward in California.


Fernando R. Gomez is an amateur writer and an avid Mormon historian. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico. He has traveled extensively and now resides in Provo, Utah. He graduated from Brigham Young University (1967 BESEE). His professional life was spent in Mexico and the Philippine Islands where he became President and owner of Encore Filipinas Micro Electronic, Inc. (1975- 1995). For the past twenty-five years he has directed a non-profit museum opened to the general public free of charge, in Mexico City (1991- 2014). In 2011 opened an on-going extension in Provo, Utah. He has published in English and Spanish an updated second edition of LaMont Tullis’s book Mormons in Mexico (Part 1 – 1997), The LDS Church and the Lamanite Conventions (2005 First edition), Benito Juarez and the Mormon Connection of the Nineteenth Century (2007) and Joseph Smith: His Influence in the Mexican Press of the Nineteenth Century (2008). The Museum has also translated from Spanish to English Margarito Bautista’s book The Evolution of Mexico – Their True Progenitors and their Origin – The Destiny of America and Europe He served his church as a young missionary in the West Mexican Mission (1962-1964), Quorum of the Seventy in Manila, Philippines (1985-1990). He presided with his wife Enriqueta, over the Merida Mexico Mission, (1992-1995), the Santiago Chile Missionary Training Center (1998-2000), and the Merida Mexico Temple, (2001-2004) He and his wife, Enriqueta have four children, sixteen grandchildren, and three great- grand- children.


Cathy Stokes is a retired deputy director in public health and a community volunteer. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Stokes was born in Mississippi, the daughter of sharecroppers. As a toddler, she moved north with a great-aunt and her husband. Although raised in stark poverty, she had opportunities in Illinois to improve her life. She obtained her BS in nursing at DePaul University and then worked her way up through Chicago’s public health system. At the time of her retirement, she was deputy director for the Illinois Department of Health. She served as vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Chicago InnerCity Youth Charitable Foundation for 16 years. She moved to Utah in 2006 after her retirement.

On a flight to Honolulu for a nursing convention, Stokes was introduction to the LDS church when the pilot recommended that his passengers visit the newly renovated LDS temple. The temple was closed, however, but she asked the visitor center’s missionaries many questions and then filled out a form requesting more information. A few weeks later, missionaries appeared at her door in Chicago, and after investigating the Church for several months, she was baptized.

In Chicago, Stokes served as Relief Society president, Young Women president, on the Church’s regional public affairs council, and as a member of the advisory board of the Illinois Chicago Agency of LDS Social Services. She has also filled assignments for the Church Public Affairs in Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

In Salt Lake City, Stokes was a member of the Utah AIDS Foundation board of trustees. She was named as a member of the new Editorial Advisory Board for the Deseret News. She is also membership chair of the Utah chapter of the African-American Genealogy and Historical Society. She greets and directs patients at the Huntsman Center Hospital two days a week.

She was featured in the book, Mormon Women: Portraits & Conversations, and in “Lives of Service,” an LDS Church documentary about service. She also participated in the 1996 LDS missionary fireside with Elder M. Russell Ballard, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ.