Monthly Archives: August 2014


atlas social clubGALA NYC kicked the summer off with our annual Pride Happy Hour on June 24th at the Atlas Social Club in Midtown. About 15 people from various class years and schools attended and it served as a great way to kick off everybody’s Pride Week festivities.

In speaking to future GALA NYC events, we are going to host a welcome back from summer happy hour in mid-September.  Additionally, my board is beginning to plan our first annual professionalism event. The event will occur in mid-October and will be used to promote professional development within the GALA NYC community.

GALA NYC is still looking to increase its membership. In addition to working with the Office of Alumni Relations, should you know of anybody that you think would be interested in attending GALA NYC events, please let me know. The success of our events depends upon the involvement and interest of our community.

As always, this year’s success would not be possible without the help of my board. To each of you, thank you for your hard work and dedication. As always, should you have any questions or suggestions for future GALA NYC events, please let me know.  I look forward to seeing everybody at future GALA NYC events.

Brian Sperber 07C


Letter from GALA’s Co-Chair

Lilly Correa

Lilly Correa 73C

On behalf of the GALA Executive and Steering Committees, I am excited to reflect with you on the state of our organization going forward. We are looking forward to an­other academic year of working hard on two major fronts: building community for our members, and advocating for Emory’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Recent news showcases the LGBT community’s rapid evolution highlighted by the first anniversary of the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision, United States v. Windsor.  GALA also has a strong tradition of advocating for our community at Emory, from supporting our students in their efforts for inclusive transgender medical benefits,  to helping student groups as they form, to engaging with Emory on divisive issues on campus such as the presence of Chick fil-A and the decision to grant a Distinguished Alumni Award to the Rev. Dr. Eddie Fox, the man most responsible for insuring that Methodist doctrine continues to state that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

By definition, GALA has always had to act on diversity and intersec­tionality.  Our mission–

“to seek to expand a network of alumni of Emory University in order to organize, serve and advocate for Emory’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community”– directs us towards serving varied interests that change with the composition of these communities.

Today Emory University is more of an ally than an adversary, but the need for advocacy is far from over.  One of our most important roles is to make sure our issues and our points of view are well reflected in Emory’s decisions.

As we look to the future of GALA, our two principles will continue to guide us: to promote and foster our community, and to be your voice at Emory.  We invite you to join us in this effort by participating in your local chap­ters, and by letting us know your opinions on how we should proceed.

Lilly Correa 73C


Marriage Equality in Georgia – July 2014 Update

on the story logo

Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in April on behalf of seven Georgia residents. For more on the case, listen to a Georgia Public Broadcasting interview from the program On the Story. The interview is available here.

Attorney General Sam Olens, representing the state registrar, said in a filing Monday, July 21, 2014, that the suit takes away Georgia residents’ right to define marriage; and as such, he is asking a federal judge to dismiss the suit and let Georgia’s ban on same -sex marriage stand.

What will the law books say in the future?

What will the law books say in the future?

Many court challenges and decisions will be expected in the near future, as both federal and state laws are involved.  Therefore state and federal courts and appeal courts will be issuing decisions. If the Supreme Court decides to accept an appeal for one of the marriage equality cases, it could weigh in as well.

For more information on same sex marriage bans and legalizations in the states, this link provides a good overview.

Scholarship and Leadership

“I think that providing support for emerging student leaders is fantastic . . . it’s really encouraging to see Emory alums continuing to be involved with the LGBTQ community at Emory, and helps bridge the gap between the student community and alums. If someone who graduated years ago is still involved and keeping up with Emory’s LGBTQ community, it shows me clearly that community and experience at Emory is something they value a lot . . .”

Cameron Coppala 16C

Cameron Coppala 16C

These remarks by Cameron Coppala 16C underscore the value of GALA’s scholarship and leadership programs. Cameron is the recipient of the 2014 GALA Leadership Award. He is the sixth recipient of the award supported by an endowment in the Office of LGBT Life and funded by the GALA membership. In 2014 the award was increased to $4000.

The scholarship is complemented by two additional endowments, also established by GALA, which provide grants to students to develop their individual leadership potential. The Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund and the J. Michael Aycock Leadership Development Fund afford stipends up to $1000, and in the past three years over 30 grants have been provided to students.

The grants have enabled students to attend regional and national conferences, and to lead workshops and give academic presentations. Grants have included attendance at NGLTF’s National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance Conference, the National Union of Jewish LGBTQ Jewish Students Conference, and support for a law school student internship in Washington, DC.

Building on those programs, earlier this year the OUTLaw Fund was established by Emory Law School students and alumni. This new fund will provide funding to maximize professional development for Emory University’s LGBTQ students in the School of Law, as well as provide educational opportunities for the entire Emory community related to sexuality and gender issues in the law.

Michael Aycock 64Ox 69C 82G, Chair of the GALA Scholarship Committee, recognized the contributions of alumni in supporting LGBT students. “The intellectual and extracurricular achievements of Emory’s LGBT students are impressive. In all these efforts they have our strong support. Thanks to committed alumni, allies and friends, our endowment and unrestricted monies in support of student scholarship and leadership programs now exceeds $300,000. GALA’s support for LGBT students reflects a shared history of personal challenges and individual journeys. It is a unique legacy and one that draws us together.”

Out on Campus: Nowmee Shehab 16C

Nowee Shehab 16C

Nowmee Shehab 16C

Nowmee Shehab 16C is the Vice President of External Affairs for Emory Pride, and was recently featured in the Ms. Magazine Blog for her work on sexual violence on campus.

Lilly Correa 73C, Co-Chair of GALA, recently interviewed Nowmee for this newsletter.

LC:  You are a transfer student from Smith.  Why did you decide to attend Emory?

NS:  After my first year at Smith, I took a year off and did an AmeriCorps Program in Boston called City Year. During that year my academic and personal goals became clearer to me, and I knew I wanted to attend a big research university that had a liberal arts college and was close to a city. Emory was the perfect pick!

LC:  What do you see as the intersectionalities, or lack thereof, of your background, including your race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression?  How has your time at Emory helped promote the intersectionality of these different backgrounds for you or other students?

NS:  I immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh when I was 16, and my South Asian community and broadly the people of color community have been very important to me. Last year, I was one of the co-facilitators of the Queer Students of Color Discussion Group through the Office of LGBT Life. It has helped me a lot to find that safe space here at Emory. I also work at the Center for Women at Emory, and am involved with the Respect Program. My involvement with them has helped me find folks who share the same values as I, and delve deeper into what it means to be a queer woman of color.

LC:  Tell us about your summer internship?  What were highlights or disappointments?

NS:  D.C. is an amazing place to be during the summer, and I am really grateful that I was given the opportunity to be here this summer. I am a Victory Institute Congressional intern at Congressman Cicilline’s office. The Victory Institute promotes leadership within young LGBT people interested in public service. The program has 7 other interns placed in various Congressional offices and Committees. It has been incredible getting to know these 7 peer leaders from across the country, sharing our experiences and discussing the ways that young people are tackling the issues of our generation. Being on the Hill has been a great experience; my favorite aspect has been going to the different issue and bill briefings. I’ve had the chance to listen to key leaders talk about the unemployment crisis, immigration reform, and sexual violence prevention. Notably I’ve gone to several panels on international LGBT rights organized by the Foreign Affairs Committee. I have also had the chance to engage in some LGBT organizations in D.C. I have been volunteering with the National Center for Transgender Equality to help plan their Hill Lobby Day. I am really happy that I got to experience what it is like working on the Hill and working in an advocacy group. I think it has helped me consolidate my plan for the future.

LC:  Tell us about your activism.  Did it start in high school?  Was there a defining event?

NS:  Both of my parents were student activists, and continued to serve the public healthcare system in Bangladesh throughout their lives.  Growing up with their teachings of building supportive communities and their staunch commitment to public service helped shape my worldview. Though, I remember a moment of my childhood that really propelled me to start thinking about inequality. I think I was about 12 years old, and I witnessed a garment workers strike right in front of my apartment. One of my neighbors was the manager of a factory, and the workers were protesting because they hadn’t gotten paid in 2 months. The workers were also my neighbors who lived in a shanty town down the street. This experience really got me thinking about power in our society and the importance of community organizing in getting marginalized voices heard. I started volunteering at a community service organization when I was 14, and have been involved in non-profit and activist organizations ever since.

LC:  So tell me a little bit about your involvement with Emory Pride and your role as a facilitator?

NS:  I was one of the co-facilitators of the Queer Students of Color Discussion Group last year. I was also the Publicity Representative for Emory Pride spring semester of last year, and I am proud to say that I will start serving as the Vice President of External Affairs this year.

LC:  What kinds of issues are important to Emory Pride and any facilitator groups you may belong to?

NS:  It is really important to me that Emory Pride keeps its focus on being a safe space for LGBT students, educating our campus on LGBT issues, and centering the most marginalized voices in our community in our programming and actions. We have done a lot of identity focused programming in the past year which has been helpful to many students including myself. I would like to expand this and have political advocacy programming that engages LGBT students and allies on topics like healthcare and housing equity, immigration reform, prison reform, reproductive justice and how all of that is linked to LGBT equality.

LC:  Are there other spaces where you think LGBT students are finding voice on campus?

gde-black-ompsNS:  Fortunately, I think LGBT students are finding their voices all across campus through SGA, Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, Resident Life and Housing, and through various student organizations. It is great that LGBT students are finding leadership and community in different pockets of campus.

LC:  What are your priorities or goals for the next aca­demic year?

NS:  First and foremost I hope to continue being a supportive and loving daughter, sister, friend and community member. I am also committed to being a good student.  I am a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies major, and I am excited to delve into my third year of studying the discipline. The classes this year seem very interesting. Additionally I am very excited about the plan to create a Center for Diversity and Inclusion that would promote collaboration between OMPS, Center for Women, and Office of LGBT Life.

LC:  What kind of support or involvement, if any, would you like to see from the GALA and other alums of Emory?

NS:  I think a clear and streamlined way of connecting with GALA Alums would be very helpful. The previous Out at Work, Out at Healthcare, etc.  panels have been very helpful, and similar professional development programming would be really great.

LC:  If you could ask for anything from the ad­ministration, what—if anything—would it be?

NS:  In my experience, something that we don’t talk about enough (or at all) in any spaces at Emory is who is not at the table, i.e. who are the students who are not at Emory because of economic, social and political oppression. Even though Emory is a welcoming space for a diverse group of people, we still need to do a lot to make Emory accessible to trans people, especially trans women of color, undocumented people and low-income students. I would ask the administration to make clearer pathways for marginalized students to access funding and make the process transparent.

Reimagining Campus Life

Emory's quadrangle. Image source: Wikimedia.

Emory’s quadrangle. Image source: Wikimedia.

GALA is excited to learn about the recent changes to the Division of Campus Life that will give the Office of LGBT Life more opportunities to collaborate with other offices dedicated to diversity and inclusion.

At the start of this past academic year, the Division of Campus Life unveiled a new vision, mission, and credo that served as the beginning point for an exciting process of growth and opportunity.  One of the important projects that emerged from the new vision and mission was the need to strengthen community building at Emory.

Key priorities include academic engagement, social justice, professional development, the Dobbs University Center renovation, dining, sexual violence prevention, student safety, recreation, community development, financial services, development and alumni relations, and retention and academic success.

In June, Dean of Campus Life, Ajay Nair, announced changes intended to promote success among Campus Life staff and facilitate a more collaborative working environment.

Among the new organizational changes is the establishment of a new “Center for Diversity and Inclusion,” that includes the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life, the Center for Women, the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, and the Office of International Student Life.  Michael Shutt, Assistant Dean of Campus Life and Director of the Office of LGBT Life, has been appointed the interim Senior Director of the Center.


Update from the Office of LGBT Life

The 2013-14 academic year ended with an amazing cohort of LGBT students graduating from Emory. The next stop on their journeys includes graduate schools, residencies, Teach for America, law school, medical school, and a wide range of professional careers. Graduation also brought another accolade to Dohyun Ahn 14C, the 2012-13 GALA Leadership Award Recipient. Dohyun received the Boisfeuillet Jones Medal for his “good citizenship, outstanding leadership, devoted service to Emory and the community, academic performance, and potential to become a ‘Change Agent’ in their chosen profession and society at large.” Many other LGBT leaders on campus were inducted into the Emory Alumni Association’s 2014 100 Student Honorary.

This summer the Office of LGBT Life hosted two interns. Christian Harrison was a graduate student from Colorado State University. Christian spent the summer developing the curriculum and facilitator training materials for the Office’s new Q-Tips program. In addition, Christian worked on additional resources for transgender students. Scott Brown was a graduate student from the University of Georgia. Scott coordinated documents and other measures of evidence for the Office of LGBT Life’s upcoming internal review. He also developed a process for the internal review team to utilize the Council on the Advance of Standards of Higher Education.

office lgbtExciting Developments for the New Academic Year

The Office of LGBT Life will launch a new series of educational programs call Q-Tips this fall. These peer-led programs will provide education to students and staff in campus groups and departments,in small, more accessible workshop format, focused on increasing awareness and knowledge of gender and sexuality. Q-Tips will also provide student facilitators (Q-Leaders) with opportunities to increase their own facilitation skills.

The Office is also supporting the development of two new student groups for African American and Christian students with LGBT identities. Over the last five years, the Office has provided advising, space, and monetary support for other new and developing student groups. This enables students to explore the level of interest before seeking formal charters through the Student Government Association. Other groups supported by the Office include Queer and Asian, Transforming Emory, and LGBTQ Muslim Students of Emory.

support lgbt life @emoryThe Office of LGBT Life will also work this year to complete its professional development programming on campus. This year the “OUT In…” series will be complete with the launch of OUT in Business in the spring of 2015. This program will bring together alumni with undergraduate and graduate students for an evening of networking. Other programs in this series include OUT@Work, Out in Healthcare, Out in Law, and Out in Faith. If you are interested in hosting one of these evening networking events, please contact Dr. Michael Shutt at

The Director of the Office of LGBT Life, Dr. Michael Shutt, will be taking on additional responsibilities for the 2014-15 academic year. Shutt was named Interim Sr. Director for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and was charged with bringing together the Center for Women, Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, Office of International Student Life, and Office of LGBT Life into a new center. This reorganization will enable all of these offices to work more collaboratively to meet the needs of all students.

As always, Alumni involvement continues to benefit our students. Contact Michael Shutt at if you are interested in hosting the OUT in Law, OUT in Business, OUT in Faith, and/or OUT in Health Networking Nights during the 2014-15 academic year!