Donald Gabard is the founder and former president of the USC Lambda LGBTQ+ Alumni Association. A triple USC alumnus and longtime champion of LGBTQ+ causes, he worked with university leaders and founding USC Lambda board members to create what has become the home of our LGBTQ+ Trojan Family. In addition, he served as co-president of USC Lambda during its first two years—a time of exponential growth for the organization, both in terms of membership and programming.
During his tenure as co-president, USC Lambda hosted its first Homecoming reception, as well as its inaugural Scholarship Awards dinner. Gabard’s exemplary leadership and tireless efforts laid a solid foundation for the USC Lambda of today: a dynamic alumni organization that fosters community, awards scholarships to deserving LGBTQ+ and allied USC students, and promotes education and increased visibility for LGBTQ+ Trojans.
A North Carolina native, Gabard graduated from USC with a master’s degree in physical therapy in 1978; he later returned to earn his master’s and doctorate in public policy. His specialty area in physical therapy was pediatrics, and he was among the first in L.A. to treat pediatric AIDS patients. Gabard also treated adults with AIDS who were refused service by other providers.
In 1987, Gabard participated in the founding of Caring For Babies With AIDS, as both a program designer and one of the organization’s first providers, pro bono. Based in Culver City, California, this nonprofit was the first pediatric AIDS hospice in the western United States. He later authored the concept paper for AIDS In-Home Care Training Programs, which was funded and implemented by the City of Los Angeles in 1988. That same year, he won the Samuel C. May National Research Award from the Western Government Research Association for his work in AIDS research. In 1994, Gabard was both a panelist and featured speaker at the American Association for the Advancement of Science on the intersection of ethics in sexual orientation and human genome investigations. Over a 20-year span, he served as a medical ethicist on three hospital ethics committees simultaneously, often safeguarding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2011, Gabard founded By Your Side, a volunteer-based program providing end-of-life support for patients at LAC+USC Medical Center. The program, through funding from the Archstone Foundation, was widely disseminated to hospitals.
A 1996 recipient of a USC Alumni Association President’s Award, Gabard continues to play a vital role in USC Lambda, most notably in scholarship fundraising. Now retired from being a tenured professor, he enjoys traveling—passionately chasing Christmas markets in Western Europe, Canada and the U.K.—as well as gardening, specifically cattleya orchids.