IN THE COMMUNITY: UCLA Lambda LGBTQ Alumni Association’s Gala Brunch

UCLA Lambda Alumni Gala Brunch Attendees Marie Nilsson, Herbert Ortiz, and Dante Buford

On Sunday, April 28th with over 100 attendees registered, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Lambda LGBTQ Alumni Association (Lambda) held its Annual Gala Brunch to recognize Lambda alumni’s accomplishments, raise scholarship funds for deserving UCLA students, and recognize alumni who have gone on to become prominent community leaders.  The gala brunch was spearheaded by Lambda Board Member and Gala Chair Bobby Rimas and the program was emceed by Lambda Co-Presidents Kaya Foster and Devon Dickau. The event took place in the garden of the UCLA James West Alumni Center where attendees enjoyed mimosas and a fabulous brunch with tables strewn with sunflower and rose centerpieces.

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The Lambda Alumna of the Year, Sheila Kuehl, and Young Alumna of the Year, Natasha Case, presented moving and inspiring speeches to the crowd that demonstrated their individual resilience to move forward with their fascinating careers.

UCLA Lambda Alumni Association Board Members Harold Sarmiento and Bobby Rimas

Alumna of the Year Sheila Kuehl ‘62 – Before her service on the Board, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kuehl served 8 years in the California State Senate and 6 years in the California State Assembly.  She was the first women in California history to be named Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly, and the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the California legislature.


UCLA Lambda LGBTQ Alumna of the Year Sheila Kuehl accepting her award with an inspiring speech at the Lambda Gala Brunch in front of over 100 attendees.  Before her service on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Kuehl served 8 years in the California State Senate and 6 years in the California State Assembly.  She was the first women in California history to be named Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly, and the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the California legislature.

Young Aluma of the Year Natasha Case ‘08 – founded Coolhaus in 2009 with Freya Estreller after she worked in architecture at Walt Disney Imagineering.  They launched their architecturally-inspired unique ice cream sandwich company at the Coachella Music Festival and have been featured in many national publications, television shows, and radio such as Cosmo, Bon Appetit, Barefoot Contessa, and National Public Radio.

After the awards presentation, Lambda scholarship recipients Camille Serrano and James Cabrera spoke to the audience regarding their touching experiences, overcoming various adversities, and the importance of Lambda scholarships.

From Left to right:
Lambda Board Member & Gala Chair Bobby Rimas, Alumna of the Year & Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and Lambda Co-Presidents Kaya Foster and Devon Dickau.

Last but not least, Lambda Co-President Devon Dickau and Lambda Board Member Clinton O’Grady did an excellent job of doing an “ask for donations” and managed to raise over $12,000 in less than 20 minutes for deserving UCLA students.

Formally established in 1989 by Doug Walters and Corinne Lightweaver, the UCLA Lambda Alumni Association is one of the oldest and most well-established LGBTQ+ alumni organizations in the United States.  The UCLA Lambda Alumni Association sustains a network of LGBTQ+ alumni and friends to support one another, UCLA students, and the greater LGBTQ+ community through social and professional networking, student support, and external community engagement.  For future UCLA Lambda LGBTQ Alumni Association events, please contact    lambda@alumni.ucla.edu.