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November 27, 2018
#WomensWork: Donna Forsythe
In 2014, after marriage equality passed nationwide, Donna Forsythe officiated an elopement for two men who had been together for decades, and never thought they could legally marry. “It was the first time I married anyone,” she says, “and it was life-changing.”
The career educator, who was getting her masters degree with the intent to become a school principal at the time, sought endorsement from the Humanist Society (HS), and began officiating secular ceremonies and celebrations part-time. As the first Humanist Celebrant in the greater Lehigh Valley, “it wasn’t long before I was turning away more business than I could take.” Now, she’s the full-time owner of Lehigh Valley Celebrants, and has trained four other HS-endorsed women to craft personal, deeply meaningful ceremonies for couples and individuals to share big moments in their lives with their families, friends, and each other.
Lehigh Valley Celebrants officiate weddings, vow renewals, baby welcomings, and, most recently, transgender naming ceremonies—a free service offered to those looking to celebrate their new selves while honoring and releasing their former name and gender identities. Forsythe and her celebrants work closely with their clients, to create joyful, beautifully personalized ceremonies where everyone feels they are a part of the day. They work hard to bring laughter, happy tears—“basically, all the feels”—to these events. When participants and guests, and venue coordinators and photographers (who have seen a ceremony or two), ask her to officiate their own life events, she feels “overjoyed.” And if she could offer some encouragement to her younger self, who thought her life’s path would be different? “You are more powerful and capable,” she says, “than you realize.”