USC Lambda Scholarship Benefit

Friday, April 9, 2021

We did it! A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped us exceed our $25,000 fundraising goal!

Over the course of our virtual celebration, generous donors like you contributed $26,135 to the USC Lambda Scholarship Endowment. We are deeply grateful for your support, which will enable us to provide financial assistance to deserving LGBTQ+ students for years to come.

Although the benefit is over, there’s still time to support USC Lambda scholarships. Make a gift of any size to the USC Lambda Scholarship Fund today. Remember, every gift makes a difference.

Thank you to award-winning actor McKinley Belcher III MFA ’10 (Ozark, the Good Lord Bird) for hosting this year’s benefit. Thanks also to DJ Breezy EZ (LA Pride) for keeping the fun going at the after-party.

Thanks again for joining us. We hope to see you in person sometime soon.

Fight On!

USC Lambda Scholarship Benefit Video

USC Lambda Scholarship Benefit Program Book

USC Lambda Scholarship Benefit Tribute Book

Congratulations to our 2021 honorees!

First presented in 2000, the USC Lambda Alumni Association Recognition Awards (LAARAs) honor members or advocates of the LGBTQ+ community for their service in advancing USC Lambda’s mission, serving as role models, and heightening the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community at large.

LAARA for Merit

Presented to a member or ally of the LGBTQ+ community who serves as a role model; whose personal and/or professional achievements have advanced the causes of the LGBTQ+ community; and who has heightened the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community at large.

Tina Mabry

Tina Mabry MFA ’05
Award-Winning Film and Television Writer, Director and Producer

Tina Mabry is an award-winning writer, director and producer for television and film. A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, she began her career co-writing the screenplay for Itty Bitty Titty Committee (2007). Mabry then wrote and directed her first feature film, Mississippi Damned (2009), which garnered an impressive 13 awards at 15 film festivals, including the Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay awards at the Chicago International Film Festival. In addition, she has directed a number of short films, including the award-winning Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan (2005).

In television, Mabry served as a writer, director and producer on Queen Sugar (OWN). She also served as co-producer, writer and director for the second season of Queen of the South (USA). In 2016, Mabry produced and directed An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win for Amazon. This critically acclaimed film earned Mabry two awards: the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs and an NAACP Image Award. Her other television directing credits include episodes of Pose (FX), Insecure (HBO) and Dear White People (Netflix).

Over the course of her career, Mabry has been recognized for telling LGBTQ+ stories with depth and sensitivity. In 2009, Out magazine named her one of the most inspirational and outstanding people of the year. She was also featured in The Advocate’s “Top 40 Under 40” issue. In 2017, Mabry received the Fusion Achievement Award at the Outfest Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival.

Mabry earned an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

LAARA for Service

Presented to an LGBTQ+ or ally USC alum who serves as a role model and has given their time to advance USC Lambda’s mission in support of USC LGBTQ+ students, alumni and the LGBTQ+ community at large.

Tim Becktold

Thomas Becktold ’87
Chief Marketing Officer, NIMBL Inc.
Co-Founder, Insight Media Labs
Founder, NewsDriver

Tom Becktold is an entrepreneur, marketer and advocate of LGBTQ+ causes. For nearly five years, he has served on the USC Lambda LGBT Alumni Association Board of Directors. In addition, Becktold has volunteered his time and expertise as a USC Lambda mentor to undergraduate and graduate students. He currently serves as the secretary/treasurer of the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert’s board of directors in Palm Springs, California.

Over the last five years, Becktold has launched a series of successful start-ups. His most recent start-up—launched in 2020—is NIMBL, where he serves on the board and as chief marketing officer. NIMBL is innovating the fitness/wellness space with new approaches on products, sales channels and education. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Becktold was the chief marketing officer for Business Wire.

A 1987 USC graduate, Becktold double-majored in journalism & public relations and political science.


Stephen Soucy

Stephen Soucy MPW ’00
Film Director and Theatrical Producer

Stephen Soucy is a theatrical producer, film director, educator and consultant. A dedicated supporter of USC Lambda, he has participated in many events and programs over the years, most notably the annual Don Thompson LGBT Film Festival.

On the professional front, Soucy is currently the co-lead producer on the Broadway-bound Romy and Michele The Musical. He is also the producer/director of the feature documentary film, Merchant Ivory, which chronicles the storied filmmaking partnership of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. Soucy’s other credits include the Ovation Award-winning Celebration Theatre production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and the Tony Award-winning revival of The Boys in the Band.

In the education field, Soucy teaches business at Santa Monica College and serves as an academic publishing consultant through his company, Modernist Content.

Soucy earned an MFA in professional writing from USC in 2000.

LAARA for Outstanding Lambda Scholar

Presented to a current USC Lambda Scholar who has gone above and beyond to advance USC Lambda’s mission in support of USC LGBTQ+ students, alumni and the LGBTQ+ community at large.

Boaz Gerstl

Boaz M. Gerstl BA/MCG ’20 
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Boaz M. Gerstl is a double USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism alumnus who simultaneously earned a BA in communication and a master’s in communication management. Active in several LGBTQ+ activities during his time at USC, Gerstl served as co-president of Nice Jewish Queers (NJQ); as a peer mentor for the Queer and Ally Student Assembly (QuASA); and as a communications volunteer for USC Lambda.

Prior to transferring to USC, Gerstl earned his associate’s degree at Santa Monica College,  where he served as vice president of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Club. In this role, he initiated, planned and oversaw the school’s participation in the 2018 Los Angeles Pride Parade.

Gerstl hopes to continue advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and social justice for all. He’s also a diehard Trojan who plans to always Fight On!

Previous LAARA Recipients:

  • Sheila Kuehl
  • David C. Bohnett ’78
  • John Heilman MPA ‘07, JD ’82, MRED ’09
  • Carole Migden
  • David Mixner
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Nancy Warner

The USC Lambda LGBT Alumni Association sincerely thanks all of our donors for their contributions to the USC Lambda Scholarship Endowment.


Platinum Circle

Tom Becktold ’87 and Stephen Soucy MPW ’00

Gold Circle

Amy A. Ross PhD ’86
ONE Archives Foundation

Cardinal Circle

Patrick E. Auerbach EdD ’08
Patricia Brum MBA ’06
Edward Finegan
Tom Henkenius ’00, MS ’19
Veronica Obregon MSW ’01, EdD ’14/
Obregon Psychological & Educational Services
USC Alumni Association

Lambda Friends

Mark DeAngelis ’87, MBA ’99
Jeff Knollmiller ’79
Brandon Kyle EdD ’17
Teresa and Jerry Mathers
Lisa Middleton ’79
DeAnn Morris
Joanne E. Rapadas ’06, MBA ’16
Ernest Riffenburgh
Mark Thompson
Lyn Tobman
Anthony Toia ’65 and John Kirby
Marc Walters

Lambda Supporters

Joy Albritten ’02
Glen Arakawa
Mary Andres
Sharon Arnold
Adam Bart
Michael Cooper ’02
Ray Delgado ’95
Juanita Del Toro
Imelda Fowler
Don Gabard
Justin Gilanyi MS ’20
Jennifer Greg
Marybeth Heydt MPL ’91
David Hildebrand
John Iino JD ’87
Wendy Klarik MBA
Sky Kogachi ’99
Latina Lesbian Meetup
LAUSD Latinas: Claudia, Ana & Flor
Amy McWhorter
My Money My Future
Alex Perez
John Richette
Robert Swain
Gail Whetstone
David Wu MBA ’14


McKinley Belcher III

McKinley Belcher III MFA ’10

McKinley Belcher III is an accomplished actor who recently made his Broadway debut in A Soldier’s Play at the Roundabout Theatre Company. He is slated to play a lead role in Eraser 2021, the Warner Bros./HBO Max remake of the 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger film. Belcher was nominated for an Outer Critic’s Circle Award for Outstanding Actor and an AUDELCO for his leading role in The Light at the MCC Theater in New York, and won a Drama Desk Award for his role in Lincoln Center’s The Royale. He won both Elliot Norton and IRNE awards for his starring role in the world premiere of A Guide for the Homesick at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston. Currently, he has a recurring role on Netflix’s Ozark as agent Trevor Evans, for which he’s been nominated with the ensemble for a 2021 SAG Award. He also plays Broadnax in Showtime’s limited series The Good Lord Bird starring Ethan Hawke. He was a series regular on Fox’s The Passage, PBS’s Mercy Street and HBO’s limited series Show Me a Hero. He has guest-starred on CBS’s FBI, NBC’s Chicago PD and many other shows. His films include Netflix’s Marriage Story, Fox 2000’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, the indie Mapplethorpe and Ed Zwick’s Trial by Fire.

Belcher is a graduate of the USC School of Dramatic Arts.


DJ Breezy EZ

DJ Breezy EZ
DJ and Event Producer

DJ Breezy EZ is a queer DJ from the DMV (Washington D.C. area) who has played LA Pride and the inaugural Venice Pride, and has been the resident DJ for Dyke Day LA for 3 years running. Slaying bars and clubs in the LA area since 2015, Breezy is known for mixing old and new music of every genre to create a warm and inviting musical experience. If DJ Breezy EZ is on the bill, make sure you bring your dancing shoes!

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Please consider making a gift to the USC Lambda Scholarship Endowment to support current and future Trojans making a difference in the LGBTQ+ and Trojan community.

Make a gift

This year’s scholarship benefit was a great success, thanks to your generosity! We surpassed our $25,000 goal to raise $26,135.  We’re now on track to grow USC Lambda’s endowment to $500,00, so that we can provide scholarships to deserving LGBTQ+ students in perpetuity.

During our virtual celebration, we presented USC Lambda Alumni Association Recognition Awards (LAARAs) to four outstanding Trojans in recognition of their achievements and dedicated service to USC Lambda, the university and the LGBTQ+ community at large.

Our Lambda Scholars are poised to become the LGBTQ+ leaders of tomorrow.  Please help them realize their dream of earning a USC degree by making a gift of any size to the USC Lambda Scholarship Fund.