2017 Thomas A. Dooley Award


The Dooley Award Ceremony was held during a Weekend Celebration April 28/29, 2017The Award Ceremony took place at the Eck Visitor Center on Notre Dame’s campus (next to the ND Bookstore).

GALA-ND/SMC, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, is proud to announce the winner of the 2017 Thomas A. Dooley Award.  This year’s award recipient is Kristen Matha SMC ’03.

As a student, Kristen, was a four-year letter winner in basketball and served as student trustee.  As an alumna, she currently serves on the Saint Mary’s College Alumnae Association Board of Directors and in 2013, she received the Outstanding Young Alumna AwardKristen has also served on the GALA ND/SMC Board of Trustees.  Currently, she is an Associate Director of Academic and Membership Affairs for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).  Kristen is married to her wife Kendra, who together raise their son Micah.

In selecting Kristen for this prestigious award, she is being recognized for her committed service to the LGBT community.  In 2014, she led the NCAA national office LGBTQ-A employee resource group launch and under her leadership the group had significant impact on the development of LGBTQ inclusive policies.  Kristen has also facilitated numerous LGBTQ inclusion trainings for NCAA staff, student-athletes and administrators.  It was through this work, that Kristen was able to assist Saint Mary’s College with developing a student leader workshop focused on creating a more welcoming and inclusive campus for LGBTQ students.

smc-logoSaint Mary’s College

Kristen was instrumental in creating and facilitating a LGBTQ & Ally cultural competency workshop for student leaders.  The workshop focused on developing an understanding of how a non-inclusive environment impacts LGBTQ peers and identifying ways to provide support and allyship. 


“I recently had the pleasure to work with Kristen and Amy Wilson, employed at the NCAA, to provide Inclusion Training for over 80 student leaders at Saint Mary’s” stated Judy Fean, VP For Mission at Saint Mary’s.  “This training provided skills to create an environment where all people are welcome.  Kristen’s ability to care deeply for all, especially those on the fringes, those who find it difficult to be known, was beautifully demonstrated as I witnessed student leaders discover not only their own gifts, but how to share them to accompany others.  Kristen’s integrity, her compassion, her beauty to love and care for others and her courage is very important today.  Kristen is a team player on the “basketball court for life” making this world a better place for all.”

ncaa-picNCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association)

While working at the NCAA, Kristen has been a champion for change both within the organization and for member schools.  Internally, her efforts led to the recommendation and adoption of transgender benefits in the employee health plan.  Externally, she co-facilitated a member session on “Creating a Game Plan on LGBTQ Inclusion in Sport” at the 2016 National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) Convention.  Additionally, she has moderated several inclusion programs, including the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s “Discussion on Diversity and Inclusion” for the GLVC Sports Network.

As described by Kevin Lennon, NCAA Vice President for Division I Governance,  “Kristen’s keen intellect invites others to think more broadly about the world we share; her passion inspires others to care about all their neighbors and co-workers; and her “can-do” and courageous attitude challenges all those around her to take action when respect, civility and human dignity are at stake.”

Additionally, GALA honored a ND alum for his work in Academic Achievement:

GALA ND/SMC Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement: 

We honor Joseph Pequigney ND ’44 for his pioneering work in LGBTQ studies.   His study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Such is My Lovewas the first to present the case that there was a consummated sexual relationship between the poet and his friend.  His exploration of same-sex love themes in Dante’s Divine Comedy has also been very influential and is widely cited.  That themes in our literature of same-sex love are today recognized and taught with greater honesty is a credit to Joe Pequigney.

Professor Pequigney was a contemporary of Tom Dooley, receiving his B.A. from ND in 1944, and a Ph.D from Harvard in 1959.  He is Professor Emeritus of English, State University of NY – Stony Brook where he taught literature for 35 years.  He and photographer Steven Mays have been together for 48 years and were married in 2008.


The Thomas A. Dooley Award honors individuals who, through their faith-based background, have demonstrated personal courage, compassion and commitment to advance the human and civil rights of lesbian and gay Americans. The award is named for the gay, former Notre Dame student who achieved world fame in the 1950s for his humanitarian activities while serving in the Navy in Southeast Asia, and even greater fame when he continued his humanitarian work as an American “jungle doctor” in Laos subsequent to his undesirable discharge from the Navy.  Additional information about Dr. Dooley and his life can be found at:  Thomas Dooley.

Previous winners of the award include:

  • Patrick Burke ND ’06, co-founder and previous executive director of The You Can Play Project , and the current Director of Player Safety for the National Hockey League.
  • The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, retired Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
  • Phil Donahue, an Emmy Award-winning media personality, a long-time champion for GLBT causes and a graduate of Notre Dame (B.A., ’57)
  • Sister Mary Louise (M.L.) Gude CSC, past Chair of the Modern Language program at St Mary’s, past Assistant Vice-President for Student Affairs at Notre Dame and past Chair of the Standing Committee on Gay and Lesbian Student Needs at Notre Dame (which eventually developed into the Core Council on LGBT affairs)
  • Sr. Jeannine Gramick, S.L., co-founder of the Baltimore and Washington, DC chapters of DIGNITY, a national organization for Catholic lesbian and gay people and the founder of New Ways Ministry, a social justice center working for the reconciliation of lesbian and gay people and the Church.



The Dooley Award Event was just one activity occurring over the Weekend Celebration.  There was also a Welcome Event Friday evening April 28th, a Panel Discussion on Saturday April 29th and a After-Party following the Award Ceremony Saturday evening.

For the full schedule of the weekend events, go to:  LGBT Award Celebration Weekend.