Mission and History

USC Lambda LGBTQ+ Alumni Association founders celebrate the 20th anniversary


The USC Lambda LGBTQ+ Alumni Association’s mission is to connect LGBTQ+ alumni to the university and each other in order to create an enriching and supportive community, award scholarships to deserving USC students and promote education and increased visibility for LGBTQ+ students and alumni.


November 12, 1992: USC Lambda is founded as part of the USC Student Affairs Office by Donald Gabard MS ’78, MPA ’88, PhD ’90, and founding board members Richard Eckhardt JD ’66; Dr. Stanley Harris; Marney Hull ’78, MPA ’81; Amy Ross PhD ’86; and Lawrence Starr MBA ’61, with the help of James Dennis MS ’77 (then vice president for student affairs) and Dr. Cynthia Cherrey and Dr. Kristine Dillon (former associate vice presidents for student affairs). USC President Steven B. Sample signs the official charter.

May 1, 1993: USC Lambda holds its inaugural reception at the Fisher Art Gallery on University Park Campus.

May 12, 1993: USC Lambda, with 65 members, holds its first board meeting; by June 1994, membership exceeds 200.

October 1993: USC Lambda hosts its first Homecoming reception in Mudd Hall of Philosophy courtyard.

May 5, 1994: At the inaugural Scholarship Awards dinner in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, USC Lambda awards its first scholarships, totaling $3,000, to three students.

April 2, 1996: USC Lambda founder Donald Gabard MS ’78, MPA ’88, PhD ’90 receives a President’s Award at the USC Alumni Association’s Volunteer Recognition Dinner.

April 1998: The USC Lambda Endowed Scholarship Fund reaches $20,000.

March 28, 1999: USC Lambda’s first named scholarship, the Thomas J. Peterson Scholarship in Business Administration, is established.

April 16, 2000: The inaugural USC Lambda Alumni Association Recognition Award goes to California Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl.

Fall 2003: USC Lambda moves from the Office of Student Affairs to become an official affinity group within the USC Alumni Association.

Fall 2005: USC Lambda launches its “Back to Lambda” campaign to recruit new members and increase its presence on campus.

March 2008: USC Lambda and the L.A. Frontrunners co-host Don Thompson Movie Night, named in memory of the former USC School of Cinematic Arts head of reference services. It is the forerunner of today’s Don Thompson LGBT Film Festival, which celebrates the work of USC’s up-and-coming LGBT and ally filmmakers.

June 27, 2008: Celebrating its 15th anniversary, USC Lambda receives a Los Angeles City Council award during LGBT Pride Month.

February 28, 2009: USC Lambda hosts its inaugural Vision Summit, which brings together 30 past, current and future Lambda leaders to discuss the organization’s future. The name of the organization officially becomes the “USC Lambda LGBT Alumni Association.”

May 3, 2009: USC Lambda endows its first scholarship: the Russell Gamble Scholarship in Architecture.

December 2009: USC Lambda raises $100,000 to name its office space in the new Epstein Family Alumni Center—the first office named for and by an LGBT collegiate alumni group.

March 2010: The Don Thompson LGBT Film Festival comes to University Park Campus.

October 9, 2010: USC Lambda hosts Out to Innovate, the first-ever career conference for LGBT students and professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

October 12, 2011: USC Lambda launches a professional development mentoring program, matching alumni and other professionals with current students.

April 29, 2012: USC Lambda launches $250,000 20th anniversary campaign as part of the $6 billion Campaign for the University of Southern California.

November 2, 2012: USC Lambda announces that its 20th anniversary campaign exceeded its goal and raised over $400,000.

September 29, 2015: USC Lambda co-hosts “Marriage Equality, Religious Freedom and the LGBT Community: A Look Ahead,” featuring John Pérez, the first out LGBT Speaker of the California State Assembly.

January 28, 2016: USC Lambda partners with the USC Career Center to host “New Year, New You: Create Your Brand in 2016,” featuring Howard Bragman, founder and chairman of 15 Minutes Public Relations.

November 5, 2017: USC Lambda celebrates the 25th anniversary of its founding at a gala event.

July 11, 2022: USC Lambda hires its first assistant director, Tiffany D. Brooks MFA ’18, to work with new executive director Brandon Kyle EdD ’19.

April 15, 2023: USC Lambda celebrates its 30th anniversary at the GRAMMY Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. Four outstanding Trojans, including USC Lambda Founder Donald Gabard MS ’78, MPA ’88, PhD ’90, are recognized at the sold-out scholarship gala.