QVA Vision Statement
The University of Virginia’s Queer Alumni Network envisions a diverse and inclusive University community that is the best possible environment for all LGBTQ+ students, alumni, faculty, and staff to study, work, and thrive.
We advocate for and strengthen the University of Virginia’s LGBTQ+ communities by connecting students, alumni, faculty, and staff through education, philanthropy, and bridge-building.
- Fund Scholarships for LGBTQ+ Students: We seek to enable LGBTQ+ undergraduate and graduate students to reach their highest potential at the University of Virginia by removing financial barriers to success. To that end, we are committed to securing $3 million in additional scholarship investments to more comprehensively meet the diverse needs of LGBTQ+ students.
- Recognize Community Leaders: We highlight the contributions of role models dedicated to advancing LGBTQ+ causes on Grounds and around the world. We learn from these leaders year-round through resources like our Advisory Council. We also celebrate recipients of the Bernard Mayes Award, the Outstanding Service Award, and the Ally of the Year award at our Fall Weekend awards gala.
- Strengthen LGBTQ+ Networks: We leverage institutional knowledge to facilitate connections for LGBTQ+ student groups on Grounds and to build a robust, sustained network of LGBTQ+ alumni, students, faculty, and staff through our annual Fall Weekend awards gala, events on-Grounds and around the world, social media channels, and other outreach campaigns.
- Pursue Equality: We advocate for a University community that is welcoming to all LGBTQ+ people without exception. For example, we seek ways to support gender affirming housing, greater disability access, more expansive resources for Queer and Trans Students of Color, Multicultural Student Services, and other initiatives that build a more inclusive University of Virginia.
- Empower Students & Enrich Student Life: We award several hundred thousand dollars annually to promising LGBTQ+ students through our scholarship and grant funds, helping them achieve their full academic potential and thrive as student leaders. We provide ongoing funding to the LGBTQ Center and queer student organizations, enabling them to provide high-quality programs and services.
An alumni network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) alumni was first conceived on Christmas Eve in 1998. While working late in his office, Matt Paco (CLAS ’95) wrote a letter to Wayne Cozart of the UVA Alumni Association and Professors Bernard Mayes and Charlotte Patterson detailing the need for such an alumni organization and a plan to establish one.
Through word of mouth and with the support of the Alumni Association, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Women’s Center, a dedicated band of alumni, students, faculty, and friends stepped forward to make an LGBT alumni organization a reality.
The name QVA: Queer Virginia Alumni Network was chosen by majority vote, and two local chapters were founded: the Washington, D.C. chapter and the New York City chapter. The QVA had its first national meeting at the Cyber Stop Cafe in Washington, D.C. on July 31, 1999.
Gabriel de Guzman (’96), Brian Eley (’93), Brian Gibson (’97), Marc Haeringer (’01), Jon Hutton (’69), Steven Kung (’99), Ted Mills (’90), Eddie Nelms (’00), Matt Paco (’95), and Kate Ranson-Walsh (’02) were in attendance. That evening Jim Adams (’96) and Jonathan Boyles (’96) hosted a cocktail party at their apartment.
On April 15, 2000, the Board of Managers of the University of Virginia Alumni Association voted to officially admit QVA as a permanent part of the Alumni Association.
In late 2001, the LGBT Center was founded under the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, with generous support from QVA.
Ever since, QVA has worked to regularly support and engage with the at UVa student and alumni LGBTQ+ community.
Our Organization’s Name Over Time
We continue to expand and evolve in our efforts to better serve the University of Virginia’s growing LGBTQ+ communities. As part of these investments, in 2022 we changed our name to QVA (a callback to the organization’s first name at its founding in 1999). We have also updated our vision, mission, and strategic priorities.
For historic context, originally our name was the QVA: Queer Virginia Alumni Network, but several members expressed concern about this name since the term “queer” continues to have a negative connotation for many people. During the first LGBT Alumni Weekend in 1999, the Board of Directors decided that the organization should have a new name that was directly connected with UVA and was not divisive.
Names like the Stonewall Society were offered, but it was felt that incorporating words like “rainbow,” “stonewall,” or “pride” would be too generic. Kyle Ranson-Walsh suggested the name The Serpentine Society, and it was voted in as the new name for two reasons.
First, our name had a connection with UVA because of the serpentine walls throughout the Academical Village, built in the 1950s by the Garden Club of Virginia. Second, because serpentine walls are not straight, and neither are we.
Instead of being a straight society, we were a serpentine society, which covers the whole gamut of the sexual orientation and gender identity rainbow: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, bi-curious, queer and questioning.
Our Relationship with the Alumni Association
The University of Virginia’s Queer Alumni Network is an Alumni Interest Group (AIG) of the University of Virginia Alumni Association. Alumni Interest Groups (AIGs) are communities of alumni that have built a tie or bond to each other as part of the University experience.
The AIG program offers UVA alumni, family, and friends opportunities to engage in the life of the University in Charlottesville and as well as regions across the country. These groups are volunteer organizations dedicated to celebrating connections, providing enrichment, and continuing UVA’s tradition of service.
Any amount donated to QVA or paid above the individual cost of an event is tax deductible. The Alumni Association will issue receipts to donors on QVA’s behalf.