Category Archives: leadership

GALA Advocacy Spring 2018

GALA had an interest in two Georgia General Assembly Senate bills, neither of which passed the House, which is required for a bill to become a law. SB 373 The Georgia Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crime Act proposed extending crime penalties based on the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Georgia is an outlier among the states for not having such a provision. The bill was first introduced with a different purpose but was replaced with the Hate Crimes substitute in a House Judiciary Committee after it passed the Senate and came over to the House. The bill received no further action in the House. 

The second bill created permissions and protections for child-placing agencies which discriminate against LGBT+ people wanting to adopt children or be foster parents. Discrimination would be justified by “sincerely held religious beliefs”. GALA wrote a letter asking Governor Deal to veto the bill based on the 1st and 14th amendments, the weakness of the religious beliefs argument, potential financial harm to Georgia and Georgia’s citizens, and basic justice and fairness withheld from a single minority group. It is not constitutional to wall off a disfavored, disenfranchised minority and deny them equal protection of the law without a compelling scientifically provable reason. There is not a preponderance of evidence that LGBT+ parents are significantly inferior parents. Additionally, a statue should not deny aggrieved parties the right to redress their grievance with due process as specified in the 5th and 14th amendments.

 The purpose of law is to dispense justice. Inclusion, love and family are central to identity and happiness, and should not be denied to any person or group without justification that passes a high bar. The General Assembly operates on a biennium calendar, meaning Representatives and Senators are elected every two years. Bills not passed the first year are carried over to the second year, but all bills not passed at the end of the second year can no longer be acted upon unless reintroduced in the next elected General Assembly. As “religious freedom” is a high priority for conservatives and discriminating against LGBT+ people seems to be touted as fundamental to “religious freedom,” it is likely a similar bill will be introduced next year.

Submitted by Maury Weil 68C

Emory GALA marches in Pride Parade in October 2017.



Office of LGBT Life Update

The Office of LGBT Life is basking in the quiet of finals time here at Emory. With the Spring semester closing and the ’17-’18 academic year in the rearview, we are inhaling and preparing for the deep breath of reflection afforded to us in the (relatively) calm summer. As we reflect, we are reminded of the busy spring 2018 full of programs and events.

In February, the office staff – along with the Center for Women (CWE) and the Office for Racial and Cultural Engagement (RACE) staffs – hosted International Coffee Hour, connecting with dozens of international students. Just a few weeks later, we hosted the Annual Pride Awards, celebrating the accomplishments of graduating LGBTQ students and active community members. Complete with remarks from Emory University’s President Claire Sterk, the Pride Awards was a huge success.










Later in March, the office supported OUTLaw, the LGBTQ affinity group in the Emory Law School, at their Out in Law networking event – connecting students to LGBT attorneys and alumni. Danielle Bruce-Steele, our director and that of ELLS (Emory LGBTQ Legal Services), shared remarks at the ELLS Launch Party at the end of March. A partnership with Emory Campus Life and the Emory Law School, ELLS will offer pro-bono legal assistance to LGBTQ folks in the Atlanta area! Learn more about ELLS here.

Like it is for many others in student affairs, April was a whirlwind of a month. The office, CWE, and RACE hosted a Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC) Brunch, fostering a sense of community and identifying the needs of QTPOC folks at Emory. To close out this year’s Queer Discussion Group (QDG) experience, we held an end of year gathering a few weeks later, inviting all members and facilitators of the 10 QDGs to enjoy food and fellowship.

Culminating a semester of curation, collaboration, and persistence, we celebrated the opening of Stepping Out of Line: Exploring LGBTQ Activism at Emory. This exhibit was co-curated by our student staff member, Jackie Veliz 18C, and other members of the Rose Library. We hosted an end of the year reception and guided curator tour complete with alumni, staff, and students.






To close out April, winners of the Dr. Daniel D. Adame Leadership Fund – Jackie Veliz 18C and KJ Lewis 19T – grabbed lunch with Dr. Adame and our coordinator, Natalie Turrin. With support from the fund, award winners traveled to Mexico to engage in research and to Maine to attend a conference on podcast production.








The Office of LGBT Life is thrilled about this year’s commencement season! Earlier this semester, Natalie Turrin successfully defended her dissertation, and will graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Congratulations, Natalie!

Looking ahead, on June 5th we will host our colleagues from across Georgia who engage in LGBT advocacy work at higher education institutions. We look forward to growing, learning, and connecting as we refocus for the summer and plan for the 2019 academic year!


Scot SThe election season was a difficult time for many of us. No matter your political perspective, it seemed that the country became more divided, and there was a constant stream of negativity. Throughout this difficult election season, GALA has continued to work towards accomplishing our main goals: advocating for the LGBTQ+ community at Emory and beyond, providing social networking and volunteer opportunities, and supporting students through scholarships and leadership funds.

Our advocacy efforts over the past six months have focused on ensuring that LGBTQ+ students continue to have access to safe spaces and quality programming during and after the reorganization of Campus Life ( We are glad that the Office of LGBT Life will continue to serve students after the reorganization, and that designed safe spaces will continue to exist for LGBTQ+ students.

To provide opportunities for students and alumni to get to know each other, we hosted the annual Blue Jean Brunch during Emory’s Homecoming Weekend. We were thrilled that President Claire Sterk joined us and spoke about her support for the LGBTQ+ community at Emory and beyond. We also volunteered at Lost-N-Found Youth ( for Emory Cares International Service Day, and we were glad to support this organization that aims to end homelessness among LGBT youth in Atlanta.

As always, we continue to provide scholarships to Emory students who positively impact the LGBTQ+ community at Emory, and we support other funds that help students attend leadership programs and access quality LGBTQ+ programing. We would love for you to learn more about and contribute to these funds. Please see for more details.

We hope that you will join us for our Holiday Social at the Four Seasons Downtown Hotel on Thursday, December 1st from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.  You can register for the event here:

We would also love to see you at one of our upcoming GALA meetings. The next two meetings will be held on December 13th and January 10th. A light dinner is served at 6pm and the meetings start at 6:30pm at the Miller Ward Alumni House.

In pride,

Scot Seitz


GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni

Letter from Co-Chair – Spring 2016

In addition to sponsoring social events, networking opportunities, and community service projects, GALA has continued to advocate for LGBTQ communities both at Emory and throughout Georgia. Recently, GALA has been working to ensure that the Office of LGBT Life receives adequate staffing, space, and resources as Emory’s Campus Life undergoes a reorganization (you can read more about this reorganization at Our advocacy efforts included a Declaration of Support for the Office of LGBT Life that was sent to Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean for Campus Life. We were concerned that Campus Life administrators did not reach out to many stakeholders, including GALA, as they created an initial vision for the new Campus Life structure. We will continue to work with Campus Life administrators to make sure that Emory’s LGBTQ students are supported by an Office of LGBT Life that has dedicated space, sufficient staff, and adequate resources.

We have also been working to increase student participation in GALA activities, thereby creating a smoother transition from Emory student to active GALA alum. In order to increase student involvement, we strive to make GALA events affordable for students. When registering for GALA events, many of our alumni generously donate money to help offset costs for students. These donations are greatly appreciated, and any funds for student participation that remain after an event are saved to reduce student costs at future events.

We have one social event planned for this upcoming July, and we would love to see you there! We are partnering with the Emory Young Alumni group and other affinity groups to visit the High Museum of Art on Friday, July 15, 2016. In addition to visiting the art collections, you can also enjoy a live jazz concert as part of the High Museum’s Friday Jazz series. This event will be free for the first 100 registered attendees, and the registration link will be sent out soon.

We would also love to see you at one of our upcoming Steering Committee meetings. You are welcome to attend these meetings even if you have never participated in GALA before. The meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month at the Miller Ward Alumni House (a free dinner is served at 6pm and the meetings start at 6:30pm). The next two meetings are on June 14 and July 12.

In pride,

Scot S







Scot Seitz, 09C
Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni

Letter from the Co-chair August 2015

Over recent months, our Steering Committee has, as always, been busy creating and cultivating opportunities for members to engage with GALA. We work hard to sustain our long-held traditions, such as the Blue Jean Brunch and Emory Cares, while also creating new initiatives and events, such as our Legacy Circle and our annual theater outing, now in its third year.

As Co-Chair of Emory’s LGBT alumni affinity group, it’s important to me that our engagement opportunities meet the needs and interests of our members. In this newsletter, I’ve included a link here to our member survey. Please take just a few minutes to fill that out. Your responses will have a direct impact on the work that we do. Maybe you’ve got a great idea for a program you’d like to see us work on, or feedback about how to improve the last event you went to. Whatever your experience with GALA to date, whether you’re a regular at our events or you’ve never connected with the group beyond receiving our newsletter, help us understand how we can best serve and include YOU.

You can also give your feedback in person by attending our monthly meetings. The meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month in the Miller Ward Alumni House. We always kick things off with a dinner and social at 6pm and then begin our business meeting at 6:30. All members are welcome to attend our meetings and give input into everything from our socials to our newsletter, our fundraising to our student advocacy initiatives.

If organizing isn’t for you, I hope you’ll reconnect with us during Homecoming for the Blue Jean Brunch on September 26th, our biggest event of the year.

In pride,

Aby Headshot










Aby Parsons 13G


GALA Executive Committee Elections in August

The GALA Steering Committee will seek nominations for positions on the Executive Committee on July 14th and elections will be held at the August 11th meeting.  Open positions include one Co-Chair position, Secretary, and one of two Officer-at-Large positions.

Letter from the Co-Chair June 2015


One factor that first led me to join GALA two years ago was the breadth and diversity of the organization’s work. GALA is not a single-purpose group. In fact, its mission outlines 8 substantial commitments to Emory’s LGBT communities, including supporting students, offering networking opportunities for alumni, and engaging in LGBT advocacy at Emory and beyond.

Since our last newsletter, we’ve hosted a dinner for our LGBT graduates at the Office of LGBT Life’s Pride Awards, enjoyed our annual theater outing to Actors Express, participated in the inaugural Out in Business networking event with Goizueta students, and honored Nowmee Shehab, 16C, with the GALA Leadership Award.

At recent monthly meetings, GALA members have also turned their attention to critical advocacy issues on and off campus. Earlier this year, GALA wrote a letter to President Wagner in support of Freedom at Emory, a student group working to secure financial aid for undocumented students. We were thrilled to learn in April that President Wagner listened to the concerns of students and alumni and made the courageous decision to begin offering aid to undocumented students from Fall 2015 onwards.

Then, in March, the Emory Wheel published an op-ed by GALA concerning the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, urging the larger Emory community to learn about and speak out against this discriminatory piece of legislation.

Engaging in advocacy has been a rewarding and galvanizing experience for many of our members, but I know that it’s not for everyone. Maybe you’re just looking to network with other LGBT alumni, gain writing and editing experience on our newsletter, hone your fundraising skills, or mentor a student. What’s amazing about GALA is that it offers all of these opportunities and more.

If you’ve been on the fence about joining (or rejoining!) us, I encourage you to reach out to me or any member of our Executive Committee with your questions or suggestions. I guarantee that you’ll receive a warm welcome and find something that fits your interests and your schedule.

In pride,

Aby Parsons, 13G

Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni