GALA ND/SMC Names LGBTQ Scholarship For Long-Time Supporters

GALA ND/SMC Names LGBTQ Scholarship For Iconic ND Grad Phil Donahue ’57 & His Wife, Actress & Social Activist, Marlo Thomas

GALA ND/SMC, the LGBTQ alumni/ae group for Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, is pleased to announce the naming of its LGBTQ Student Scholarship to The Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas LGBTQ Student Scholarship.  The naming of the scholarship reflects the enormous contribution Phil and Marlo have made over the years to the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s LGBTQ community, and is a way of continuing their legacy well into the future.  In addition, it also recognizes the life-long commitment each of them has made to helping others through their various professional and personal contributions. 

Mr. Donahue and Ms. Thomas accepted this honor while hosting the Fifth Annual LGBTQ Scholarship Benefit at their home in NYC on Sunday November 17th.  Presenting the renaming were GALA Board Member Jack Bergen ’77 and GALA NYC Chapter Chair John Flanagan ’93, along with a group of LGBTQ alumni, friends and allies from the local NYC ND Alumni club.

As stated by Bergen during the event, “Phil and Marlo have been such strong advocates for LGBTQ community throughout their entire lives.  Not only have they supported LGBTQ Catholics in our cause for equality within the Catholic Church and within the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s community, but the impact they have had on the thousands of lives over the years has been beyond imagination.”

Flanagan added, “Their generosity and support hosting the scholarship benefit the past five years has directly led to our fundraising success, as well as to increase alumni engagement here in NYC and to promoting a strong partnership with the local NYC ND alumni community.”

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About The Honorees

Mr. Donahue, a 20-time Emmy Award recipient, started his professional career in the 60’s and 70’shosting a radio program and then The Phil Donahue Show on TV which lasted ~ 30 years.  He dedicated his life to giving a voice to the many underrepresented classes, and proudly provided an early platform for “homosexual” men to give them legitimacy and normalcy in a time of vilification and lack of understanding.  LGBTQ ND alums fondly remember attending a gathering at his home in the early 90’s soon after the creation of GALA ND/SMC as an organization.  Donahue is a Notre Dame grad, class of 1957, a founding member of GALA’s board since its inception in 2012, and listed in the “top 10” notable alumni for Notre Dame.

Ms. Thomas has had an amazing career as an American actress, producer, author, and social activist best known for starring on the sitcom That Girl (1966–1971), and to later generations as Rachel’s mom on Friends.  She has received numerous honors, and in 2014, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony.  Thomas serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was founded by her father Danny Thomas in 1962.  She created the Thanks & Giving campaign in 2004 to support the hospital.  Currently, Ms. Thomas can be heard and seen each year in countless fundraising and awareness efforts to educate the public about the lifesaving research and treatment being done every day at St. Jude.

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About The Scholarship

The purpose of this scholarship, which was created in the spring of 2015, is to provide financial assistance and support to full-time undergraduate students who identify with the LGBTQ community. This scholarship assists recipients with reducing the financial costs incurred while pursuing their education as well as allowing them to make a positive impact at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and/or the South Bend community.  To date, 10 scholarships have been awarded to deserving ND & SMC LGBTQ students.  The five-year capital campaign goal of raising $250,000 is with ~10% of being achieved. For more information, or to make a donation, go to: LGBTQ Student Scholarship.