Elon Alumni Association holds first LGBTQIA Summit

More than 40 Elon faculty, staff, students and alumni gathered for the inaugural LGBTQIA Alumni Summit March 30-31.

Tal Fish ’09 and John Pickett ’03 take part in a break-out discussion during the LGBTQIA Summit.

Following a Friday evening reception, President Leo M. Lambert kicked off a full day of meetings on Saturday that focused on how to support Elon’s alumni and on-campus LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, ally) communities, particularly in light of the university’s increasing focus on diversity.

“You are a valuable part of our alumni base,” he said, directing his comments to the more than 20 graduates who returned to campus to participate in the summit. “We count on you and care about you, and we thank you for caring about us.”

For many of the alumni who returned to campus, it marked the first time in years they had engaged in the life of the university.

Kirsten Ringelberg, associate professor of art history, is the founding coordinator of Elon’s LGBTQ Office.

“It’s been a thrill to be here and to share all weekend,” Lowry Sinclair ’65 said. “I’m proud to be a gay alumnus of Elon.”

Through several presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions, the summit produced several programs and areas of emphasis they hope to see developed in the coming months and years. These include:

  • founding and developing an LGBTQIA Alumni Affinity Network to provide professional development, health and wellness, and mentorship support for alumni and current students;
  • offering events for the LGBTQ community at Homecoming, through partnerships with Alumni Association chapters and clubs as well as on-campus organizations, and more;
  • fostering a spirit of philanthropy to support LGBTQ initiatives on campus, such as facility maintenance for the LGBTQ student center, scholarships, etc.;
  • increasing visibility of the LGBTQIA Alumni Affinity Network through the Elon alumni website, an LGBTQIA alumni e-newsletter and The Magazine of Elon; and
  • instituting an LGBTQIA Trailblazer Award to be awarded annually.

“It’s been a wonderful and inspiring day that’s reignited my passion for Elon,” Julie Messina ’99 said.

If you are interested in learning more about or getting involved in the LGBTQIA Alumni Affinity Network, please contact Durice White ’09, coordinator of alumni engagement for affinity programs, at dwhite15@elon.edu or (877) 784-3566.