Category Archives: letters

LETTER FROM CO-CHAIR – Fall 2016

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 (http://dialogue.emory.edu/CASA2/). 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 (http://lnfy.org/) 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 http://www.lgbt.emory.edu/about/donate.html 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: http://engage.emory.edu/s/1705/alumni/index.aspx?sid=1705&gid=3&pgid=3720&cid=5727&ecid=5727&crid=0&calpgid=13&calcid=1160.

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

Co-Chair

GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni

Advertisements

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 http://dialogue.emory.edu/CASA2/). 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 Co-Chair – President Wagner visits GALA Steering Committee Meeting

Like most alumni affinity groups, GALA serves as a social and professional networking outlet for its members. Our summer and winter socials, spring theater outing, and monthly meetings are valuable ways for LGBTQ alumni to connect with one another.

What makes GALA different from most groups of its kind, however, is its involvement in campus-based advocacy. In the past 5 years, GALA has protested Chik-Fil-A on campus, supported the efforts of Freedom at Emory to grant financial aid to undocumented students, publicly opposed the Candler School of Theology’s decision to present anti-gay church leader H. Eddie Fox with a Distinguished Alumni award, and, most recently, lobbied the President to request that Emory oppose discriminatory statewide legislation.

In October, the GALA Steering Committee wrote to President Wagner to ask that Emory take a public stand against so-called religious freedom bills that threaten to erode rights for LGBTQ Georgians. After exchanging emails throughout the fall semester, we invited President Wagner to join us for our January meeting. We were delighted when he, along with Jerry Lewis, Sr. vice President for Communications and Public Affairs; Sarah Cook, Sr. Associate Vice President for Emory Alumni Association; Cameron Taylor, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs; Evan Goldberg, Special Assistant to the President; and Jessie Arnidis, Director of Development, Campus Life and Athletics, agreed to attend our meeting and engage in a dialogue with us regarding Emory’s stance on these legislative initiatives. Our conversation with the President and his colleagues was engaging, informative, respectful, and enlightening, and we were thrilled to learn that Emory has indeed joined Georgia Prospers, a coalition of businesses and organizations that oppose discriminatory legislation on the grounds that it’s both unethical and bad for business.

As alumni, we see it as our responsibility to hold our alma mater to the highest standards of accountability and ethical engagement, particularly when it comes to matters of access, equity, and inclusion. Emory does not exist in a bubble; as an employer and an institution of higher learning, we are part of Atlanta’s community and a landmark of which Georgia should be proud. We therefore applaud President Wagner’s decision to join Georgia Prospers and send a clear message to our state legislature that LGBTQ students, employees, and alumni are valued at Emory. Furthermore, we are grateful that President Wagner and his colleagues took the time to sit down and talk with us at length about issues that are critical to GALA’s members, and we look forward to building a similarly mutually supportive and transparent relationship with his successor.

If you’d like to get involved with GALA’s advocacy efforts, please join us the second Tuesday of every month at 6pm for dinner and our monthly meeting in the Miller Ward Alumni House.

In pride,

Aby Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aby Parsons, 13G
Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni

Letter from GALA’s Co-Chair

As a graduate student at Emory, I always received a warm welcome from GALA members at LGBTQ events on campus. At Homecoming celebrations, holiday socials, and the Pride Awards, our alumni always took time to reach out to me, to ask how things were going, and to encourage me to stay involved in the Emory LGBTQ community after graduation.

It was therefore an easy decision for me to become an active member in GALA after completing my degree. My involvement with GALA over the past year and a half has allowed me to advocate for students, to build meaningful friendships with other alumni, and to give back to the campus LGBTQ community that gave me so much throughout my five years as a student. I’ve been able to experience firsthand what a difference a friendly, supportive, and engaged organization like GALA can do for our students and alumni.Print

GALA has already effected meaningful change on Emory’s campus, and has the capacity to continue to effect change and be a voice for LGBTQ inclusion. Thanks to our strong partnership with the Office of LGBT Life, we have opportunities to serve as mentors, advisors, and friends to students and staff. With our new GALA Outwrite Blog and our social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, we can now easily connect with our alumni all over the world and engage them in our work.

Wherever you are, we hope that you’ll consider connecting with GALA in useful and meaningful ways in the years to come. If you are based in Atlanta and you’ve never joined us at an event or monthly meeting, consider this a personal invitation and encouragement to do so in the near future. We can guarantee that you’ll be made to feel welcome and valued, and that you will have plenty of opportunities to expand your network, make friends, learn new skills, and have a tangible impact on the LGBTQ alumni of the future.

And to our current students, take it from me when I say that you shouldn’t wait until after graduation to get involved with GALA. We love getting to know our students and involving you in our community. Joining GALA has made all the difference in my life and I know it will make a difference in yours too.

 Aby Parsons, 13G

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