a group of speakers and honorees pose in front of a step-and-repeat

31st Annual Scholarship BenefitGarden Affair

Thank you for attending the 31st Annual USC Lambda LGBTQ+ Alumni Association Scholarship Benefit! Your presence at our very first Garden Affair helped make the event a resounding success, and we’re thrilled that you were a part of it.

We’re excited to share some unforgettable moments captured during our benefit, along with a recap of the heartwarming honoree tributes. Read a news story about the event or check out our photo gallery and program book.

A heartfelt thank you to our benefit sponsors and everyone who participated in our fundraising challenge. Your generous support enables us to provide financial assistance to deserving students at USC, so that they can become the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, advocates and artists.

Finally, we’re happy to report that we raised nearly $20,000 during our event! Your generosity is greatly appreciated, but we still need your help. Please text LAMBDA to 41444 to donate, or donate online. Every contribution, big or small, directly supports our scholarship program.

There’s so much happening in our vibrant LGBTQ+ community; we can’t do it without you! Thank you again for your dedicated support and participation. Together, we can make a lasting difference.

Fight On!

2024 Honorees

Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

2024 Trailblazer Award Honoree

David Bohnett

David C. Bohnett ’78

(he/him/his)

Member, USC Board of Trustees
Chair, David Bohnett Foundation
Social Activist and Philanthropist

David Bohnett (he/him), a member of the USC Board of Trustees, is a philanthropist and technology entrepreneur committed to effecting positive change through community building and social activism. He serves as chair of the David Bohnett Foundation, and is also the chairman of the Executive Committee of the board of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, vice chairman of the board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Lake Agawam Conservancy in Southampton, New York.

Since 1999, the David Bohnett Foundation has provided funding, state-of-the-art technology and technical support to hundreds of innovative organizations and institutions in several primary funding areas: The Fund for Los Angeles, supporting a broad spectrum of arts, educational and civic programs, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LACMA and CicLAvia; LGBTQ-related causes; graduate school leadership programs at the University of Michigan, UCLA, NYU and Harvard; voting rights and registration initiatives; research and public policies to reduce the toll of firearm violence; and animal research and rights.

Grants totaling over $120 million to date have supported the work of a wide range of organizations, including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, The Wildlife Alliance, the ACLU Foundation, Equality California and the David Bohnett Gay & Lesbian Leadership Fellows program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The David Bohnett CyberCenters are another major undertaking; currently located at more than 60 LGBTQ centers nationwide, they offer business, educational, research and recreational opportunities to the local gay and lesbian community via access to the internet. One of his most notable gifts to USC endowed and named the USC Bohnett Residential College at USC Village—a community built around a core ideal of social action through entrepreneurship.

In his professional career, Bohnett has long been a leader in the technology and information services industry, and is founder and managing member of the early-stage technology fund, Baroda Ventures. He also serves on the board of directors of several notable technology companies.

In keeping with his approach to philanthropy, Bohnett has always been involved with businesses that empower individuals, improve lives and build viable communities by connecting like-minded people. In 1994, he founded GeoCities.com, a media and e-commerce company that was once ranked one of the four most trafficked sites on the web. GeoCities became publicly traded on NASDAQ and was acquired by Yahoo! Inc. in 1999. In a 2007 article, the Wall Street Journal described it as a Facebook prototype and noted, “Back then, entries were known as home pages, not profiles. But the basic, expressive elements of today’s Facebook and competitor MySpace … were all right there.”

Previously, Bohnett has been an active partner in Xdrive.com, Wireimage.com, Stamps.com and LowerMyBills.com, and has held various positions in the software industry for Legent and Goal Systems. He started his career as a staff consultant with Accenture (then Anderson Consulting) in Los Angeles. His academic credentials include a Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa from USC and Whittier College, an MBA in finance from the University of Michigan, and a BS in business administration, also from USC.

Bohnett’s many awards and distinctions include Los Angeles Business Journal’s Technology Leader of the Year, Time Digital’s Top 50 Cyber Elite, and Entrepreneur of the Year for Southern California. Bohnett maintains residences in Los Angeles and New York City.

2024 Outstanding Scholar

Carla Ibarra

Carla Ibarra

(she/her/they)

MPH, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Carla Ibarra (she/they) is a transgender rights activist, speaker and public health professional with a decade of community-centered work focusing on equity and justice in BIPOC LGBTQIA+ communities.

She is the current and first-ever LGBTQIA+ liaison for the Los Angeles Civil, Human Rights, and Equity Department, leading various LGBTQIA+ initiatives for the department and the city. Before joining the city, Ibarra served as a health program analyst for the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s HIV and STD programs. She also served as a former commissioner of the Los Angeles Transgender Advisory Council.

Ibarra was featured in The Power of Kindness, a documentary featuring Lady Gaga, in honor of World Kindness Day. In May 2022, she was a part of the first-ever MTV Mental Health Youth Action Forum, held at the White House. As an advocate for transforming mental health awareness into actual, tangible actions, Ibarra and other young leaders dialogued with President Joe Biden, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and mental health advocate and world-renowned artist Selena Gomez.

Ibarra holds a bachelor’s degree in consular and diplomatic affairs and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Ibarra is a proud transgender Filipina immigrant, born and raised in Metro Manila. She resides in Los Angeles, with her beautiful husband, Arturo, and three awesome cats named Chubs, Meatball and Meatloaf.

2024 Community Ally Award

LGBTQ+ student center

USC LGBTQ+ Student Center

In 1970, a coalition of USC students, staff and faculty initiated an organization called the Gay Liberation Forum, which served as the first LGBT social movement for the university. After years of adversity and, at one point, the threat of legal action against the university, the Gay Liberation Forum received recognition from the USC Board of Trustees in 1975. This allowed the organization to conduct meetings on campus and submit requests for funding. It was not until 1985, however, that the Gay and Lesbian Student Union—now known as the Queer and Ally Student Assembly (QuASA)—was approved as a cultural assembly within the USC Program Board. Today, QuASA remains a cultural organization within the university’s programming department.

In 2004, QuASA worked with Vincent Vigil, a graduate advisor from the USC Center for Women and Men, to draft a proposal to create an LGBT department within USC Student Life. This proposal highlighted retention rates, safety concerns, leadership development and mentorship opportunities for LGBT students. USC Student Life approved the proposal and established the LGBT Resource Center (LGBTRC) in 2005—and hired its founding director, Vincent Vigil. Since that time, the LGBTRC has received many accolades, making USC a national leader in LGBT student services and a university of choice for prospective LGBT+ students and their families. Kelby Harrison joined the USC community as center director in 2014 and completed her tenure in 2020; Megan van der Toorn has served as the center’s director since July 2020.

On National Coming Out Day (October 11) in 2020, the LGBT Resource Center officially changed its name to the LGBTQ+ Student Center to better reflect the student community it serves.

About

Since 2000, the USC Lambda LGBTQ+ Alumni Association has honored 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.

Our 31st annual Scholarship Benefit Garden Affair will raise funds for scholarships to deserving USC students who demonstrate a commitment to Lambda’s mission of strengthening the LGBTQ+ community. At the benefit, we will also recognize distinguished alumni and an exceptional scholar for their outstanding merit, service, academic achievement and/or scholarly work.

Scholarship Benefit Co-Chairs

Peter Barth

Peter Barth ’07

Chief of Staff and Strategy, Blue Shield of California Foundation

Kristen Kavanaugh

Kristen Kavanaugh MSW ’12

Founder, The Agency Initiative

Past Honorees


2023 Honorees

Legacy Award

Donald Gabard

Donald Gabard MS ’78, MPA ’88, PhD ’90 (he/him/his)

Founder and Former President, USC Lambda LGBTQ+ Alumni Association

Trailblazer Award

Alexandra Billings

Alexandra Billings (she/her/hers)

Actress, Singer, Author, Activist and Assistant Professor of Acting, USC School of Dramatic Arts

Community Ally Award

Danielle Harvey

Danielle E. Harvey ’00, ML ’19 (she/her/hers)

Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations

Outstanding Scholar Award

Lucille Warren

Lucille Warren ’22 (she/her/hers)

Student, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy


2022 Honorees

We proudly salute the 2022 honorees of the USC Lambda Alumni Association Recognition Awards (LAARA).

LAARA for Merit

Kristen Kavanaugh

Kristen Kavanaugh MSW ’12

Founder, The Agency Initiative

LAARA for Service

Bridgette Austin

Bridgette Austin MBV ’19

CEO of B. Austin Consulting, LLC

LAARA for Staff

Lindsey Morrison

Lindsey Morrison MHA ’16

Process Architect for Keck Medicine of USC

LAARA for Outstanding Scholar

Justin Kawaguchi

Justin Kawaguchi ’21

Graduate Student, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy

Previous LAARA Recipients:

  • Sheila Kuehl
  • Thomas Becktold ’87
  • David C. Bohnett ’78
  • John Heilman MPA ’07, JD ’82, MRED ’09
  • Tina Mabry MFA ’05
  • Carole Migden
  • David Mixner
  • Stephen Soucy MPW ’00
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Nancy Warner

Photos