2017 Newsletters

Fall 2017 Newsletter

Message from the Chair – Jack Bergen ‘77

What a roller coaster ride the past four months have been. Our Fighting Irish football team has slowly crept up in the post-season rankings to # 3 only to suffer a very tough loss to Miami.  The political show in DC continues to keep us all in a state of amazement.  And at ND, we are told that after a pretty clear “no”, maybe there is room for further discussions regarding LGBT alumni.  Aside from all this, our members continue to join each other in some fun and rewarding activities both regionally and on campus.

See below for a few up-coming activities you may want to participate in, whether it’s providing your input to share with the NDAA, helping to have events in your city, becoming an officer in 2018 or making a visit in December to NYC for that club’s Christmas party. Find a way that is best for you to be a member of our ND/SMC LGBT & Friends Alumni Community.

Official Recognition Update

In our last newsletter in July, it was reported that the NDAA (ND Alumni Association) had verbally communicated that they would not be recognizing an LGBT alumni affinity group.  Despite this disappointing decision, the NDAA has since expressed interest in continuing to find ways that GALA-ND/SMC can be more included in the Notre Dame community. As meetings continue over the upcoming months to discuss this process, your involvement will be critical.

If you would like help, there are two specific actions you can take:

  1. There is power in many voices being heard!  We would like to collect your feedback and share a collection of these with the NDAA.  Provide your input on the impact of this decision and the on-going process.  Send your feedback to info@galandsmc.org with your name, class year and indicate if we may share this with the NDAA.  Feel free to use one of these suggested topics, or one of your own:
    1. How does the lack of not recognizing LGBT alumni impact your relationship with the University?
    2. How has GALA ND/SMC helped with engaging you as an ND alum/friend?
    3. What would you like to see change in regards to the ND Alumni Association view of LGBT alumni?
  2. As many of you have already indicated, actions speak louder than words.  In this case, direct any upcoming contribution you would normally make to the University to the LGBT Scholarship Fund.  All money donated here will go to benefit Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s students, no portion of this will go to the group’s operating funds (unless otherwise designated).  Once you have given, let the ND Development office know of your action at develop@nd.edu.  Please note that these contributions will not count toward your annual giving history for football lottery purposes.

In the meantime, as an organization, we remain convinced that the best way to strengthen our relationship with the University is to continue to deliver even more programming to engage our alumni/ae community, and to partner with groups both on campus and around the country that value the same principals and ideals we share as LGBT alumni.

Activities on Campus:

Fr James Martin Video Conference – November 6, 2017

On Monday November 6th, The ND Gender Relations Center and Center for Social Concerns hosted a live video conference with Fr. Jim Martin, S.J. as he discusses his most recent book, Building A Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community can enter into a relationship of respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Fr Martin has written any books, and is a strong advocate for a more welcoming stand toward LGBT Catholics.

The group that organized Fr Martin’s visit included Fr Joe Corpora of Campus Ministry. As Fr Joe described, the purpose of bringing Fr. Martin’s lecture to campus was to spark a discussion about how students can identify as LGBT and still be members of the Church.  The event was very well attended and Fr Martin received sustained applause at the end.  For more information, go to the 11/6 Observer article.

LGBTQ+ Film Festival – October 1 – 8, 2017

Sponsored by ND Student Govt., and with many co-sponsoring groups (including GALA ND/SMC) and academic depts., the ND/SMC communities were treated to a week of films dedicated to LGBT themes. It’s been many years since ND allowed the first Queer Film Festival in 2004 which was groundbreaking at that time and caused much controversy. Historical Note:  In 2003, US News & World Report ranked Notre Dame #1 in the “least friendly” to “alternative lifestyles” category.

National News – LGBT ND Grad Elected as Seattle Mayor

Congratulations to ND alum Jenny Durkan ’80 for becoming the first woman mayor in Seattle since the 1920’s and for being the first lesbian mayor ever!  Prior to being elected, Durkan served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder from October ‘09 through September ‘14.

LGBT Student Scholarship Campaign Hits $100,000 Milestone

GALA ND/SMC held the Third Annual NYC LGBT Student Scholarship Benefit on Sunday September 24, 2017.  The benefit was hosted by Phil Donahue ’57 and his wife Marlo Thomas at their beautiful apartment overlooking Central Park.  For pics of the event, go to 2017 NYC Fundraising Benefit.

Due to the generosity of everyone attending and prior donations, the Scholarship Campaign has now hit the $100,000 Milestone of the targeted five-year $250,000 endowment campaign.

As you plan your year-end giving, please consider making a donation to the Scholarship Fund as we continue to strive toward our goal: Scholarship Donation Here.

Local GALA Club Events In Your City

If you are a member of GALA’s Facebook Group, you’ve no doubt seen many events hosted by the GALA ND/SMC Club of New York City.  If any of those look interesting, and you’ve asked yourself why doesn’t GALA have them in my city, the answer is We Want To!!  All we need is someone to find a venue, pick a date and bring your friends.  We will promote the event on Facebook and send an email to members in your area.  These could be a game-watch, a “social” at a bar/club or a community service event.  If interested, contact GALA Chair Jack Bergen at jack.bergen@yahoo.com.

Membership Renews

GALA relies upon your paid membership to support a number of different activities throughout the year. These include helping to fund LGBT student activities, the Tom Dooley Award event, regional gatherings and on-campus events such as the annual reunion panel and fall tailgater.  Please consider either becoming a “dues-paying” member or continuing as one when your renewal comes due.  Go here:  GALA Membership.

Also available are “enhanced membership” levels which include an automatic donation to the LGBT Student Scholarship Fund.  Almost 30% of our paid memberships are at these enhanced levels.  Join your fellow alums supporting our organization today!!  For question on membership, contact Vice-Chair of Membership Ram Ballesteros at membership@galandsmc.org.

ND Day- PrismND

Thanks again to our alumni community for providing your support to PrismND, the LGBTQ student group at ND.  They were able to raise over $3,700 due in large part to alumni donations.


Fall Tailgater – September, 2017

GALA ND/SMC held our annual football tailgater on campus on Saturday September 30th.  The weather was beautiful and the Irish won easily over Miami of Ohio. Many alums, students and friends stopped by for some liquid and food refreshments.  For more pictures, go to GALA Facebook Group.

Eugene O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner Honoring Phil Donahue ’57

On Monday October 17th, the Eugene O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to GALA ND/SMC board member Phil Donahue ’57. He received this well-deserved award for his groundbreaking work as a TV talk show host starting in the 1980’s.  On hand to present the award were such notable Irish-American celebs as Alan Alda, Rosie O’Donnell and Brain Dennehy.  Special thanks to the GALA members of NYC who sang the ND alma mater to kick off the evening.


Second Annual NYC Christmas Party – Friday December 15, 2017 – 7:00pm

A very fun Christmas party is being planned in NYC for Friday, December 15, 2017.  For alums that live in the area, pencil in this date.  For others who live outside of NYC, plan a “road trip” to the Big Apple for the weekend.  Nothing like the Christmas lights at Rockefeller Center, shopping at Macys or taking in a holiday show!!!  For more event info including location, go to:  NYC Club Social Events.


Officer Elections – Early 2018

Do you want to get more involved in helping your fellow ND/SMC LGBT alums? Feel like giving back to your alumni community?  Like to run events or be part of a team setting direction?  If yes to any of these, then consider becoming an officer in GALA ND/SMC.  Elections will be taking place in early 2018 and all officer positions will be available.  If interested in more information, go to GALA Officers or contact any of the current officers Jack Bergen, Michael McCabe or Ram Ballesteros.  (An official request for nominations will take place in early 2018)

Regional Alumni Clubs

As we have seen over the years, making ourselves visible to friends, peers, co-workers etc. is an important step in encouraging support for our community. One way all of us can be more visible to our fellow alums is by becoming more involved in our regional ND & SMC Alumni Clubs. We encourage all of our members to join your local clubs, to become active members and request events directed toward the LGBT alumni community.  To help, ask them to partner with GALA ND/SMC to provide programming for alums in your city.

Summer 2017 Newsletter

Message from the Chair – Jack Bergen ‘77

So much has happened over the past three months in our community, with both celebrations and signs of continued challenges. For celebrations, almost 100 people joined together on campus to recognize our 2017 Thomas Dooley Award winner and to share in the announcement the 2017/2018 LGBT Student Scholarship recipients. Also, in cities around the US, many of us participated in Pride events, including those sponsored by GALA in Boston & NYC. My husband and I attended DC Pride and the Equality March and saw a number of ND alums there. What a great experience marching in front of the White House, the Washington Monument and the Capital building calling for greater inclusion.

On campus, students, with support of many of you, protested the invitation of Mike Pence as the commencement speaker. Rainbow flags were visible everywhere around campus!

Finally, as was recently communicated, we have heard that LGBT alumni will not be welcomed into the NDAA (Notre Dame Alumni Association) as requested three years ago. This is a major tremendous loss for the entire Notre Dame alumni family, not just LGBT alums. Each of you have so much to offer, and all we want is an opportunity to engage in the same activities, events and camaraderie afforded other diversity alums. Even with this setback, we must continue to work together as a strong community to identify ways of staying connected and making things better at Notre Dame.

Rainbow Flag Drop/Commencement

During April and May, the Notre Dame LGBT and Ally community rallied together to demonstrate their disapproval to the selection of Vice President Mike Pence as the 2017 commencement speaker. A petition was signed by thousands of students and alums, a rainbow “flag drop” occurred around the campus, and last but not least, a peaceful walkout was staged while Pence was giving his opening remarks during the commencement ceremony. Many thanks to the students who organized these activities and to all alums who supported them with contributions and encouragement. Videos and images of the commencement demonstration can be found on GALA’s YouTube channel and on We Stand For Facebook page.

Dooley Award Weekend – April, 2017

On Saturday April 29th, GALA ND/SMC held our signature event, the Thomas Dooley Award Dinner & Ceremony, recognizing Kristen Matha SMC ’03 as this year’s recipient.  Attending the dinner were almost 100 alums, students, faculty and staff from both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame, members of the South Bend Community as well as many of the Kristen’s friends from across the US and co-workers from the NCAA.

Kristen was introduced by Kara Kelly SMC ’96, Special Assistant to Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli and Kevin Lennon, NCAA Vice President for Division I Governance.

In recognition for her service, GALA ND/SMC donated $1,000 in Kristen’s honor to the Indiana Youth Group, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth in the Indianapolis community.

Also occurring over the Dooley Weekend was a panel discussion on Reconciling Religious Freedom with Civil Rights. Moderated by Matt Skinner ’06, it featured several ND & SMC faculty and alums.

For more information and pictures on all the weekend’s events, go to 2017 Dooley Weekend.

LGBT Student Scholarship Recipients

As part of the Dooley Award weekend, GALA ND/SMC announced the recipients of the 2017/2018 LGBT Student Scholarships.  This year’s recipients are Morgan Haney SMC ’18 and Sushi Le SMC ’20.  Congratulations to both winners and thanks to everyone who has contributed to the scholarship fund to make these awards possible. For more information on each recipient, go to LGBT Student Scholarship.

Transgender Member Facebook Group

GALA ND/SMC is an all-inclusive group welcoming all members of the LGBTQA community. To better serve the transgender portion of our family, one of our members is looking for other individuals who identify as trans to join together in a “virtual community”. To accomplish this, a closed Facebook group has been started for members who would like to connect with others identifying as transgender. To join this group, please contact Morgan Benson ’14 at morgankbenson@gmail.com.

Past Events

Chicago Alumni Social – April, 2017

A small group of alums got together for drinks at SideTrack on Thursday April 27th.  The weather was cold and chilly outside, but the atmosphere was warm & inviting inside for our group.

Alumni/Student Networking April, 2017

On Friday, April 28th, GALA hosted an alumni/student networking event at Legends on Notre Dame’s campus. Over 25 alums and future alums attended this fun evening. Hopefully we will be having more networking events with students in the future.

Pride Events – June, 2017

GALA ND/SMC hosted two Gay Pride celebrations during June this year.

In Boston. in partnership with the ND Cub of Boston Club kicking off it’s Alumni Diversity Program, and co-sponsored by the Boston College LGBT Alumni group, we sponsored an event at the “Pride Lights” ceremony in Boston’s South End.

In NYC, we celebrated Pride by attending an incredible show call Jazz in the City at the legendary Duplex Cabaret located in the heart of Greenwich Village.  See more pics at NYC Social Events.

Alumni Reunion – June, 2017

GALA hosted two panels over the Alumni Reunion Weekend, one at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.  At Notre Dame, the theme of the discussion was Inclusion & Diversity at Notre Dame – Join The Conversation.  Consistent with the “inclusion” theme, this year’s panel included members of the Black, Hispanic and LGBT Alumni communities.  The broader theme as very well received by over 30 alums in attendance. At Saint Mary’s, the panel covered The Intersection of Saint Mary’s Core Values and LGBT Life Today and featured alumnae covering a range of decades.  The discussion was very lively and inspiring for the allies in attendance. For more pictures, go to GALA Events.

Upcoming Events

Third Annual New York City LGBT Student Scholarship Benefit – Sunday, September 24, 2017

Building upon the success of the past two years, The GALA ND/SMC Club of NYC is proud to be hosting the Third Annual New York City LGBT Student Scholarship Benefit. This year’s benefit will take place on Sunday September 24th, once again at Phil and Marlo’s beautiful home overlooking Central Park. A full weekend of activities is being planned, so plan your trip to NYC now. Details and registration will be announced over the summer, so mark your calendars!!

Fall Tailgater – Saturday, September 30, 2017 (ND/Miami of Ohio Game)

GALA ND/SMC will be holding our annual football tailgater on campus, this year for the ND/Miami of Ohio game on September 30th.  Stop by before the game to have some beverages and game-day munchies.  Last year over 30 students, alums and South Bend friends stopped by.  Questions? Contact Holly James at hoj056@utulsa.edu or Ram Ballesteros at rballest@alumni.nd.edu.

Regional Alumni Clubs

As we have seen over the years, making ourselves visible to friends, peers, co-workers etc. is an important step in encouraging support for our community. One way all of us can be more visible to our fellow alums is by becoming more involved in our regional ND & SMC Alumni Clubs. We encourage all of our members to join your local clubs, to become active members and request events directed toward the LGBT alumni community. To help, ask them to partner with GALA ND/SMC to provide programming for alums in your city.

March 2017 Newsletter

Message from the Chair Jack Bergen ‘77

2017 is off with a bang!  It is an understatement to say that things have not been dull.  Both on-campus and around the US, there have been many opportunities to express our feelings (good or bad) about the current state of events.  Whether it’s a Women’s March, a LGBT rally or an event in support of immigrants, many of us have stood up to make our voices heard. I hope and trust that all students and alums remain safe and free from discrimination of any kind.

Coming up in April, we have an entire weekend planned on campus to hold the 2017 Thomas Dooley Award CelebrationDuring the weekend, we will be recognizing Kristen Matha SMC ’03 as the 2017 recipient of this prestigious award as well as having a special student/alumni reception. I hope to see many of you there!

I will also be making a second trek back to campus in June for my 40th reunion.  In between visits to the beer tent, Holly and I will be running the GALA reunion panels.  We are always looking for members to be part of the panels to share your stories.

Finally, I want to give a “shout out” to our community in New York City.  Through the leadership of a small core group of alums, the first ever regional chapter of GALA has been formed called GALA ND/SMC Club of NYC. They are already planning some great events.

Thomas Dooley Award Weekend – April 28th – 30th, 2017
Registration is Now Open

As was shared in a special newsletter in February, GALA-ND/SMC is proud to announce the recipient of the 2017 Thomas A. Dooley Award is Kristen Matha SMC ’03.  Kristen has made tremendous contributions to the LGBT community both at her alma mater Saint Mary’s College and through her work at the NCAA.

The award ceremony and dinner will be held Saturday evening April 29th at the ECK Visitor Center on Notre Dame’s campus (next to the ND Bookstore) starting at 6:30pm with an open bar reception.  This venue is a very unique facility on Notre Dame avenue and features a beautiful outside patio area for cocktails before dinner.  Registration for the award ceremony/dinner is now open.  Go to Dooley Weekend Celebration to sign up.

The weekend celebration will also include an Alumni/Student reception Friday night April 28th at the Morris Inn, a panel discussion with a theme of “Reconciling Religious Freedom with Civil Rights” on Saturday morning, an “after party” Saturday night and a prayer service/mass on Sunday morning.

Opposition to Mike Pence as Commencement Speaker

Alumni Reaction – As this newsletter goes to print, a letter was sent to Fr. Jenkins on behalf of the Notre Dame alumni LGBT community expressing our deepest sadness for the selection of Mike Pence as the 2017 commencement speaker.

To quote from the letter, “While Vice President Pence might be the “lesser of two evils”, and Notre Dame was “caught between a rock and a hard place” by inviting President Trump, we do not support this selection for commencement speaker.  In the end, he does not stand for the values that Our Lady has taught us of respect, diversity and inclusion for all humans.”

Student Reaction – Notre Dame’s students also responded swiftly by voicing their opposition to this decision.  As reported in the Observer Friday March 3rd, The executive board of the Diversity Council, a student group promoting “awareness, understanding and acceptance of all differences that make up the Notre Dame community,” released a statement expressing the group’s dissatisfaction with the University’s decision. “Our working definition of diversity spans, but is not limited to race, gender, ethnicity/culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and spirituality,” it said. “In the spirit of our mission, we are disappointed and angered by the University’s announcement of Vice President Mike Pence as the 172nd Commencement speaker.”

In addition, a group of students organized a fundraising effort to perform a massive “Flag Drop” to display hundreds of rainbow flags around campus.

As a show of unity with the LGBT community on campus, we encourage as many alums as possible to attend the Dooley Award Weekend and to see firsthand all the rainbow flags to be hung from dozens of buildings around campus.

Alumni Reunion Weekend at Both ND and SMC
June 1st – 4th, 2017

Panel Participants Needed!

Come reminisce with old friends and make some new ones back in South Bend.  Once again, GALA will be hosting a panel-style seminar on both ND & SMC campuses featuring alums and others sharing stories of LGBT life on campus.  If you are interested in participating on either of the panels, please contact Holly James at hoj056@utulsa.edu. .

GALA Officers Openings

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Treasurer and Vice-Chair for Program position have recently become open.  The term of these unfilled positions is through spring 2018.  Please consider helping out if you have the time (position description here).  Being an officer of GALA-ND/SMC is an opportunity to directly support the LGBT alumni and students of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College and help our community.  If interested, send an email to jack.bergen@yahoo.com.

GALA ND/SMC Club of New York City

GALA ND/SMC Club of New York CityAs of January 2017, the New York City metro area now has its own chapter of  GALA ND/SMC called GALA ND/SMC Club of New York CityThe NYC club is the first “regional” group to be established, and was formed as a result of the overwhelming support and engagement by members in the area.

The mission of the NYC Club, like the national organization, is to bring together NYC metro area LGBT alums and friends from Notre Dame & St Mary’s in fellowship and to provide a forum for social events, community service, professional networking, and student support.  The NYC Club will be led by a group of alumni volunteers whose goal is to provide programming that is fun, interesting and promotes camaraderie in this community.

The leadership committee consists of:

  • Edward Augustine ’87 (Co-chair)
  • Ron D’Angelo ’86 (Co-chair)
  • Liam Dacey ’04
  • John Flanagan ’93
  • Arlene Ortiz-Leytte ’08
  • Kevin Romero ’03
  • Martin van Koolbergen ’94
  • Jack Bergen ‘77 (Officer Liaison)

To kick things off, the club will be joining other Irish LGBT groups by marching in a St Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday March 5th sponsored by St Pat’s for All. The St. Pat’s for All parade celebrates the diversity of the Irish and Irish American communities of New York.  Our own Phil Donahue ’57 will be this year’s Grand Marshal.  A post-parade gathering is also being planned at one of the local Irish Pubs.

Fall Tailgater – Saturday September 30, 2017 – 5:00PM Kickoff  (ND vs. Miami of Ohio)

Once again GALA ND/SMC’s will be holding our annual football tailgater on campus, this year for the ND/Miami of Ohio game on September 30th.  Make sure to put it on your calendar and request tickets in the football lottery.  Stop by before the game to have some beverages and game-day munchies.  Last year over 30 students, alums and South Bend friends stopped by.

2017 Membership Drive – Join or Renew Now

Now that 2017 is kicked off, please consider becoming a “dues-paying” member of GALA ND/SMC.

  • Your dues provide support for student programs and leadership opportunities
  • Your dues assist with regional & campus events including the Tom Dooley Awards
  • Your dues allow the organization to advocate for LGBT issues on campus and help to maintain the website & online member directory

Also, consider one of the “enhanced membership levels” which automatically allocate a portion of the annual membership to the LGBT Student Scholarship Fund.

Notre Dame Day – April 23rd & 24th, 2017

Once again Notre Dame will be holding a 24-hour celebration in April called Notre Dame Day For the past two years, many GALA members contributed to PrismND, the official LGBTQ student organization, by everyone donating just $10! Let’s try to outdo ourselves this year!  Keep an eye out for the communication from ND and look for our postings on Facebook for the link to contribute.