2020 Officer Election Bios

This page contains the personal bios of individuals running for the GALA ND/SMC officer positions for 2020-2022.

Chair:  Paul Burke ’98 (he/him/his)

I have been a member of GALANDSMC for 16 years and want to give back to the organization and ensure its continued success.  Professionally, I have led large, multi-generational, diverse teams with a wide variety of skills that exceeded our goals.

Vision – For NDAA, my goal is to continue to build a path for full recognition of a LGBTQIA+ alumni organization through the NDAA as well as the local clubs.  For LGBTQ students, I seek to provide support and assistance for an accepting and affirming experience on and off campus.  For the GALANDSMC board, I seek to provide a table for all that want to gather, clear and constant communication for all that want to listen, and a safe a joyous space for all that want to gather.

Challenges – GALANDSMC is an organization separated by distance and experience.    I seek to address those challenges by utilizing social media, regional events, on campus events, and away sporting events to build relationships and community.

Member Engagement – To engage members, we need to meet them where they are (in person and online) as well as update them on a monthly basis.  To build membership, we need to build visibility in local clubs and social media.

Other – GALANDSMC has been a bright spot in my life and provided me with fast friendships that have lasted decades.   I would like to steward and empower GALANDSMC to do the same for others.

Vice Chair – Programs:  John Flanagan ’93 (he/him/his)

I have been involved in the NYC Chapter leadership since its most recent inception. For the past 2 years I have been Chair/Co-chair.  I have also participated on the national level by planning the past two Dooley Award events as well as the scholarship fundraisers in NYC.  I have hosted or planned numerous NYC events including holiday parties, Pride BBQ, and regular networking events.  I am seeking the Vice Chair of Programs position because I have been involved in many of the GALA-ND/SMC events over the past several years.  I enjoy meeting members both locally and nationally.  In particular it is always nice to meet current students during the Dooley Award weekend.

Vision – Our recent Dooley Award nominee Father James Martin wrote a book called Building a Bridge. I think that is what we need to do with NDAA. They have already made some positive steps (attending Dooley, Dolly’s Pride video) and we need to reach out and continue to build that bridge.  I also think our members need to spend more time interfacing with Prism, Glass and the law student forum. Our members can mentor and provide advice to current students.  We can also show them that it does get better.

Challenges  – For every two steps forward there can be a step back. I think ND still has influential conservative stakeholders including the archbishop and the Heritage Foundation. I think the relationship with St. Mary’s is challenging as well. Some SMC members have been vocal about GALA not meeting their needs and have started their own alumni group.  I think we need to work together and decide how ND and SMC LGBTQ alums are best represented moving forward.

Member Engagement – I would continue to participate in the NYC local chapter and take that experience and try to mentor members in cities like Chicago, DC and Philly to begin similar local chapters.  I will also attend the major events and get to campus regularly.

Other – The LGBTQ community of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s is as diverse as the wider ND/SMC community.  This is an advantage and should be celebrated.  That said, our group does not have the resources to address every challenge that exists in the LGBTQ community throughout the nation. Our job is to try to address the needs of our members as best as possible and support the LGBTQ ND/SMC community primarily.

Vice Chair – Membership: John McDonald-O’Lear ’78 (he/him/his)

As a recently retired non-profit professional I am ready to bring my non-profit leadership and fundraising skills to move GALA forward.

Vision – I believe that it is important for the University’s Alumni Association to recognize GALA and the role it plays in the Notre Dame/St. Mary’s community. I also believe that GALA has a responsibility and opportunity to support the LGBTQ students of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s.

Challenges – In addition to the recognition by the university and its alumni association, GALA needs to assure that it is relevant to all LGBTQ students and alumni.

Member Engagement – During my non-profit fundraising career I learned the importance of building relationship with those whose support I was seeking. I would apply this to GALA and hopefully enhance member’s connection with the organization.

Other – My husband and I recently retired and spend the summer traveling the country (and escape the Arizona heat). I would hope to connect with GALA members in other parts of the country during my travels.

Treasurer:  Grant Van Eaton ’08 (he/him/his)

GALA-ND/SMC currently administers a large scholarship fund for current students, as well as an annual operating budget.  As a steward of these funds, along with the entire board, I will seek to grow our endowed funds to increase scholarships and responsibility grow and manage our scholarship and annual funds.  In my current role I manage a $6mil+ portfolio of national research studies and have extensive experience managing large budgets, forecasting and managing expenditures, and guiding annual finance strategy.

Vision – I think we are at an exciting time in GALA’s relationship with the ND Alumni Association, the GRC, and Prism.  As a board member, and a member of the NDAA’s LGBTQ task force, I wish to advocate for GALA’s diverse membership and secure a pathway toward recognition by the ND Alumni Association.  As a member of the Core Council for LGBTQ Students while an undergrad at Notre Dame, I shepherded a report that laid a foundation for the LGBT programming offered by the GRC, the Assistant Director for LGBTQ programming position at the GRC, and the eventual recognition of PRISM.  As a member of the GALA board, I will leverage those same connections and strategic partnerships to chart a course for the recognition of an LGBTQ Alumni group by the ND Alumni Association – this will not only enhance the support offered to alumni by the NDAA, but also foster closer ties with PRISM and the GRC.

Challenges – GALA’s membership is quite diverse, both in institutional affiliation, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and and generationally.  Moving through the next year, I would seek to work with the board to 1) understand the current needs of our membership, including what is holding members back from more active participation and 2) better understand how we can foster stronger relationships with both SMC and ND, and what possible futures for GALA might look like given those institutional differences.  Working in partnership with the board, I anticipate a series of surveys and focus groups with current members, as well as proactive and continuing discussions with the alumni associations of both ND and SMC.

Member Engagement – As GALA has evolved, along with its relationship and with a new generation of alumni that seek different types of support, I think it is crucial to pause in this moment and understand our current membership.  In addition to a survey and focus group of current members, I would also work with our leadership to foster a stronger connection with and understanding of what is currently happening on campus.  In raising awareness of current campus initiatives and through a better understanding of the supports our current membership desires, I would work to provide resources for alumni to leverage their own networks to raise awareness of GALA and events happening on campus.

Secretary:  Mike Gorman ND ’81 (he/him/his)

With 38 years running a manufactures representative business , I feel that I am equipped to bring fresh ideas to the organization.  Additionally, I have been engaged with establishing several non profits for the LGBT community in Phoenix.

Vision – Increasing the  level of participation and excitement. Greater engagement from a larger percentage of our members.

Challenges – Our biggest challenge is not receiving recognition from the administration.  Additionally, a lack of excitement from a large percentage of our members.

Member Engagement – In order to increase member involvement, we need to try and encourage more members from other area outside the east coast to participate.  Finding ways to keep our members engaged through social media.