by Mark Rosén, VP of Development & External Relations
| Jun 05, 2017
Yesterday, past Board Chair Kevin Gaspari and his husband Kent Thoelke opened their beautiful home to a gathering of the Scholarship Fund founders, visionaries, and Scholarship alums. What began, in true Seattle fashion as a slightly cool day, turned into one of the warmest gatherings of kindred spirits who all shared the common history of support for the GSBA Scholarship Fund. As stories were shared around the room, we were reminded of the very first days of the Scholarship Fund and what it meant to connect as community around the mission to help those who had very little or no family support. Founder Bob Dlugosh shared the story of C. Wight Reade writing the very first check to
the Scholarship Fund, and Louise Chernin spoke about his legacy gift at his passing many years later.
Dave Brown and Josie Gardner both told tales of the true spirit of “roll your sleeves up and mop floors until midnight” that went into the very early Scholars Dinners. One of the very earliest scholars, Chris Kuhel (1995) shared how he has come full circle from a young, closeted, boy in suburban King County to a Scholarship volunteer, mentor, donor, and inspiration. Eric King (2013, 2015, 2016) reminded everyone that LGBTQ scholars today need the support every bit as much as they needed it in 1991. The kinds of accomplishments GSBA scholars are achieving are demonstrated by the fact that Eric has been named as a Husky 100 Scholar and sits on UW President Ana Mari Cauce’s Population Health Executive Council.
As each individual shared their personal story of involvement and dedication, the word “family” was often repeated and, even 27 years later, the power of connections was evident. The vision and foresight of those few who were present in the early days provided the solid foundation that the Scholarship Fund needed to grow. The goals they set and surpassed raised the bar high for what is now one of the largest LGBTQ Scholarship Funds in the country. From $5,000 in 1991 to awarding the three millionth dollar in 2017, the GSBA Scholarship Fund could not have done it without the dedication and will power of those who were there at the beginning and the succession of generous individuals inspired by them, who have
continued to go further in the mission “To invest in the education of a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied students who have the capacity and vision to be the next generation of leaders working to create a better world for all.” At a time where so much once again seems at risk, the importance of coming together cannot be underestimated, so we look forward to making this an annual event.