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Meet the AU Pride Alumni Alliance Leadership Circle

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Alumni at the Pride Alumni Reunion

The American University Pride Alumni Alliance (“AU Pride”) was created to connect and engage the LGBTQ and ally communities of American University alumni through celebrating diversity and increasing visibility. The Pride Alumni Alliance leadership circle is committed to contributing to an inclusive community at AU.

The Pride Alumni Alliance Leadership Circle

Shawn Richardson, SOC/MA ’10 (He/Him/His), co-chair: This U.S. Virgin Islands native spent much of his childhood in the Caribbean, moving to the Boston area in his early teens. Shawn is currently co-chair of the Pride Alumni Alliance and says he volunteers because “I like connecting with other AU LGBTQ alumni and allies. Every time I attend an event, I make new friends.”

Charley Fogel, CAS/BA ’13 (They/Them/Theirs), co-chair: Charley graduated in 2013 with a BA in psychology and currently works in the AU Career Center. As a student, they spent much of their time working with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and held leadership positions with AU Queers and Allies (now AU  P.R.I.D.E – People Respecting Individual Diversity Everywhere). Charley joined Pride Alumni Alliance as a way to stay connected and volunteers their time to educate and advocate for the community, including their own non-binary gender identity.

Foster Curry, CAS/BA 10 (He/Him/His): Foster works for the American Society of Hematology. He is part of their government relations and practice team. He has a master’s in economics from the College of Arts and Sciences, where his focus was on economic policy and international economics as well as a broad range of government issues. Foster is signature programming co-chair for the Pride Alumni Alliance.

Walker Sands, Kogod/MBA 14 (He/Him/His): Walker’s passion for people and inclusion has guided his career. After a transforming experience at the Kogod School of Business, where Walker earned his MBA, he continued earning his stripes in care transformation by implementing quality improvement for patients of all walks. Currently, Walker brings his communications and organizational development skills to Booz Allen’s Civilian Services Group, leading communications and strategic planning for improving healthcare.

Caleb Schmotter, SIS/MA ’18 (He/Him/His): A Minnesota native, Caleb received his undergraduate degrees from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and an MA from AU’s School of International Service. Growing up in his rural hometown, Caleb says he was taught that queerness was something to keep hidden. Today, “I volunteer with the Pride Alumni Alliance to help others own their identity in a way I didn't experience earlier in life.”

Ben Tingle, SPA/BA 11 (He/Him/His): Ben is a co-chair for signature programming with the AU Pride Alliance and loves supporting alumni and student initiatives in order to give back to the inclusive community he found as a student. Ben works as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. and is a proud 2011 SPA graduate.

A message from the co-chairs

Recently there have been discussions and reports in the national news about eliminating transgender rights, which came with a swell of emotions for many of us. Whether or not you identify as transgender, intersex, non-binary, or gender non-conforming, this affects us all. There have been continual efforts to reduce the rights of the LGBTQ community, and in times like these, we need family, friends, and allies to stand and support our transgender community and advocate for their/our rights. Last month voters in Massachusetts advocated for the rights of the transgender community by voting yes on a referendum to maintain a 2016 law that extends nondiscrimination protections to transgender people. On campus, the university sent out a memo to students addressing the national climate and the AU community. The university offered its support to transgender, intersex, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community members and provided resources to students who need outlets for processing their emotions.

One of the ways we do this is by celebrating Pride Thanksgiving on campus every year. Thanksgiving is a time to come together and celebrate with family, friends, and community. We acknowledge that not everyone is able to be with family during the holiday, so the AU Pride Alumni Alliance hosted its third annual Pride Thanksgiving on campus. We created space for an inclusive celebration designed for LGBTQ, ally, and international AU students. American University family members—with alumni, faculty, and staff, and friends –seeking to support AU students also attended. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of incoming Alumni Board president Rob Johnson, SPA/BA ’81, and Christine Johnson, students and guests enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and fun activities fit for the holiday. We are all Eagles, and as Eagles we “soar” in supporting each other in times of adversity.

If you are interested in joining the Pride Alumni Alliance feel free to reach us at aupride@american.edu