Message From the Chair- Jack Bergen ‘77
It’s amazing to believe another year has gone by and so much has happened in the world around us and within our community. I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on how things have changed over the past year and the progress that has been made. Before I do that, on behalf of the officers and board of GALA ND/SMC, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and to ask you to consider GALA in your Year-End Giving
in support of the LGBT Student Scholarship Fund.
Recognition– GALA held our bi-annual Thomas Dooley Award in April honoring Patrick Burke ’06 for his work as the Co-Founder of You Can Play creating awareness and support for LGBT athletes. This was especially relevant to Notre Dame Varsity athletic teams whose members participated in creating a You Can Play Notre Dame video in 2014. During that event, we also recognized Kevin Heffernan ND ’93 a former GALA officer, with the GALA Alumni Award for his dedication and help over the years to Notre Dame LGBT students and alumni and we recognized Nancy (SMC ’64) and Hank Mascotte, Founding members of PFLAG-Michiana Chapter with the GALA Service Award for their efforts in support of gay youth in the South Bend community.
Regional Game Watches & Campus Tailgater– GALA sponsored a number of regional game watches across the US (including Boston, LA and NYC) for members and held our annual pre-game tailgater for members, students, faculty and friends from the South Bend Community for the Georgia Tech game in September.
LGBT Student Scholarship– For the first time ever, GALA awarded two $2,500 scholarships to qualified LGBT ND/SMC students. Each student submitted a written application and committed to performing community service. Congrats to AdrienneSMC ’17 and Bri SMC ’16 on being the first students to receive this scholarship. Adrienne described her reaction to being awarded the scholarship, “I freaked out. For two weeks I couldn’t stop smiling. I ran down and told my friend Becky and she was so happy for me. I texted my Mom…I won this scholarship. I was really thankful.” When recently asked to describe how things are on campus for LGBT students she said, “People are becoming more educated. For me personally, I’ve found those little pockets of acceptance, and the pockets are kind of growing especially with the legalization of gay marriage over the summer. People are talking about it more and it’s kind of an everyday topic in classes, so it’s becoming normal, something every day to talk about.”
– Similar to the LGBT Student Scholarship, for the very first time GALA undertook a Fundraising Campaign
starting in September. The original goal of raising $10,000 in 2015 was greatly exceeded as almost $20,000 has been raised. The majority of this was accomplished through the generosity of members and friends attending the Premier Event in NYC
hosted by Phil Donahue ’57 in November. One of the highlights of the evening was viewing a collection of four current LGBT students sharing their experiences ND/SMC LGBT Student Video
. Given the success of this event, expect to see additional events in other cities in 2016, and a continued drive to eventually fund the scholarship through an endowment ensuring continuity in future years.
New Membership Options
– Starting in September, Membership Levels
available for individuals to join and support the group was expanded to include enhanced giving levels. Each of the enhanced levels provides for an automatic contribution to the student scholarship fund. In just 3 months, a number of members have signed up for this option contributing an additional $1,000+ annually to the fund. These new options are available members who have an existing “contributing” membership as well as for non-contributing members.
– GALA continued our tradition of supporting the LGBT student community at ND & SMC through a number of different ways. First, GALA provided funding for the annual student spring dance held this year at the Beiger Mansion. Second, GALA sponsored a student to attend Camp Pride LGBT Leadership Week
. This year, the first transgender student attended from the ND/SMC community. Third, through the generous donations made by GALA members, we were able to help PrismND
come in # 47 (out of several hundred) in funds collected during the second annual Notre Dame Day in April.
Official Recognition With The NDAA– GALA submitted our request for official recognition to the Notre Dame Alumni Association in the spring of 2014. Since then, an open on-going dialogue has continued. We are hopeful that the time has come for LGBT alumni of Notre Dame to be welcomed into the overall alumni community.
– Given the geographically dispersed nature of our membership, it is important to use all means available to communicate effectively with members. In 2015, the number of individuals connecting via GALA’s Facebook Group
went up almost 20% to just about 500.
On Campus & Across the Nation– On the national front, we witnessed same-sex marriage become the law of the land in June. It took only 13 years to go from one state (Massachusetts) to all fifty. At Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, spousal benefits for same-sex married couples were made available after the Supreme Court ruling in October ‘14 affecting Indiana.
Spirit of Inclusivity– Much has been seen in 2015 on greater visibility for transgender individuals across the US, the “coming out” of Caitlyn Jenner being the biggest example. Over the summer, GALA started the process of developing a roadmap to become more inclusive for the bi and transgender members within our group. Once we gather member feedback, our goal is to complete that process and initiate specific actions next year.
Looking toward 2016, we have many challenges ahead of us. I’d like to ask all members and friends to consider helping out in any way you can. This could be through becoming a contributing member, making a donation to the scholarship fund, sponsoring a regional social or fundraising event, reaching out to fellow classmates who may have lost touch with GALA, or by using your skills and talents to assist with the many activities it takes to engage our members and/or to help current students
In conclusion, I want to especially thank my fellow officers Brandon, Justine, Jerry and Mallory for their hard work and positive attitude they bring to all of their efforts. Many of the accomplishments above were the result of their determination. Also, I want to thank all of our members for your support and participation in 2015, and I hope that 2016 will bring even better results for our community.
Jack Bergen ’77
GALA ND/SMC Chair