LGBTQ Alumni Association - A Chapter of The University of Alabama Alumni Association


Hello fellow Alumni, Fans, and Friends –

I want to first say WELCOME! We are excited to continue our growth and presence among all of those affiliated with The University of Alabama.

The UA LGBTQ Alumni Association has accomplished a lot in our first four years of existence. In this brief time, we have endowed TWO scholarships that are now awarded annually, dispensed emergency grants during the COVID-19 pandemic, held events both in-person and virtually across the US, and in April 2021 we were granted a seat on the UA National Alumni Association Executive Committee.

As we look to the future our sights are set on continuing our mission to:

  • Strengthen the entire University of Alabama community by elevating the voices of LGBTQ+ persons and their allies
  • Foster community among LGBTQ+ persons affiliated with The University of Alabama and their allies
  • Develop financial and professional resources for LGBTQ+ students and young professionals affiliated with The University of Alabama
  • Ensure that adequate services are provided to LGBTQ+ students so that they can be healthy, happy, and can pursue success on campus and beyond

To make these things happen WE NEED YOU! I encourage you to become a member, get involved, sign up for our newsletter, and help strengthen our UA community and our LGBTQ+ family.

Roll Tide,

Russell C. Howard
President (2022-2024)



We have tons of great events around the country – wherever our alumni are! Check on our Facebook page for up-to-date information.

If you would like to hold an event in your area, please message us on Facebook or reach out to us at

In the past, we have had events that have been co-sponsored by Druid City Pride and at venues like Icon in Tuscaloosa, Pitchers in Washington, D.C., and many others. If you would like to co-sponsor one of our events, we would love to hear from you!


Individual Membership dues are $25 per individual (plus fees) and provides membership from September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019.

The Founding Membership, available until December 2018,  option includes 2018-2019 individual membership, as well as a $25 donation to be split between UA Safe Zone and a scholarship endowment, $50 total plus fees. Founding Members will receive recognition and a certificate of appreciation from the LGBTQ Alumni Association and the National Alumni Association.

Membership is open to all University of Alabama alumni, friends, and parents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, or anyone who consider themselves to be an ally in good faith.

Sign up and pay your membership dues here:

If you have any questions regarding membership, please reach out to us at


UA Safe Zone

The UA Safe Zone Resource Center provides educational outreach, community support, and crisis intervention resources for LGBTQIA+ members of the University of Alabama community and their allies. The SZRC offers help connecting people at UA to LGBTQIA+ inclusive resources, provides training on LGBTQIA+ topics for UA students, faculty, and staff, facilitates LGBTQIA+ community building programs on campus, and works with the Safe Zone advisory board to advocate LGBTQIA+ interests at UA.

Capstone Alliance 

Capstone Alliance is the campus organization for LGBTQA+ faculty, staff, and graduate students and their allies.


The purpose of Spectrum is to provide a supportive community environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, asexual, and queer, (etc.) students and their allies at the University of Alabama, while working for greater understanding and education within the University and its surrounding communities about LGBTQ+ individuals and the discrimination that exists against them.


Gradient is a Graduate Student organization for LGBTQIA+ people and their allies. Our mission is to provide community support and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ identified graduate students.



Russell C. Howard – President

pronouns: he/him/his

Russell Howard is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he attended Shelton State Community College and The University of Alabama. Mr. Howard enjoys being an advocate for his community, currently he serves as president of The University of Alabama LGBTQ Alumni Association, a founding board member and Immediate past president of Druid City Pride, he is also on the Board of Directors for Five Horizons Health Services, and the Diverse Business Council Steering Committee for The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. Professionally, he is the Office Manager of RealtySouth Tuscaloosa and has been named one of Tuscaloosa’s 40 under Forty Business Professionals by The Tuscaloosa News.

Ryan Flamerich – Executive Vice President

pronouns: he/him/his

Ryan Flamerich grew up in Chelsea, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 2013, majoring in Chemical Engineering and Political Science. He served as a Senator for the College of Engineering for three years and was the first Speaker of the Student Senate in the SGA. Ryan obtained his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2021 and graduated as a Dean’s Award winner, the highest distinction conferred on a graduating student. Professionally, Ryan has worked in management consulting for over seven years. He has led global teams and advised Fortune 500 C-suite leaders in the areas of organization design, strategic sourcing, and sustainability. Personally, Ryan lives in New Haven, CT with his fiance. He loves cooking, photography, and all things planes.


Will Thomas –  Vice President – Executive Committee

pronouns: he/him/his

Will Thomas currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Alumni Association as the Vice President representing the LGBTQ Chapter. Professionally, Will has worked on various public health, nutrition, and LGBTQ issues in the private sector, nonprofits and as a consultant in Washington, D.C. for nearly a decade. He has a Masters of Public Health from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, a Masters degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University, and a Bachelors degree in Economics and Finance from The University of Alabama. While at the Capstone, he was the 2009 recipient of the William P. Bloom Award, Vice President of the Anderson Society,  and President of the Alabama International Relations Club from 2007-2009.


Joe Tomlin –  Vice President, Finance

pronouns: he/him/his

As a 2005 graduate of the Capstone there a few passions that I hold more dear than my passion for the University of Alabama. I have stayed involved with the University is some capacity since graduating, most noticeably of which is with several alumni chapters. I have served in the past as Chapter President for the Columbia, SC NAA Chater and for the past two years I have served as Treasurer for the UA LGBTQ NAA Chapter. The Chapter has already proven to be successful with creating two fully endowed scholarships within a three year period and is only poised to grow and touch more alumni in the future. I would love the opportunity to continue to serve for its mission of bringing more awareness of the LGBTQ community to the University along with connecting more Alumni across the country.


Jenny AllonVice President, Communications

pronouns: she/her/hers

I’m a former social worker turned communications professional with five years experience in communications and marketing.


Ebony Burnett – Vice President, Events

pronouns: she/her/hers

Ebony Burnett is a 2003 graduate from the University of Alabama, a California native currently a Navy Civilian. Former San Diego pride co-chair and events coordinator in the community.


Jon ChappelVice President, Career & Community

pronouns: he/him/his

Jon Chappell is a native of Birmingham and a 3x UA alum (BA ’11, MBA/MS ’13). In his day job, he is a Cloud Specialist at Microsoft focused on operations management and process improvement. Jon lives in Seattle with his 3-year-old Boston Terrier, Barney.


Clayton LawingScholarship Chair

pronouns: he/him/his they/them/

Clayton Lawing (he/they) is a 2020 alum of the University of Alabama. Clayton calls Udon Thani, Thailand and Montgomery, Alabama home. After graduating with their B.S. from the College of Human Environmental Sciences, Clayton went on get an M.Ed in College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georgia. Clayton recently moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where they began their first year of law school at Tulane University. Clayton plans on returning to higher education after law school to continue working on their passions related to Title IX and student-led activism. However, Clayton is also very open to the whatever the future may bring during the next three years of law school.


Kyle RichardsonFundraising Chair

pronouns: he/him/his

I have been promoting and planning social events for over 15 years. I own Tuscaloosa’s only Gay Bar Icon and work with the Mystic Krewe of the Druids and Druid City Pride.

Hillary MooreCommunications & Marketing Chair

pronouns: she/her/hers

Hillary Moore is a native of North Carolina and a 2011 graduate of the University of Alabama. She was active in both New College and the Honors College as a student at UA. She later graduated from American University in Washington, DC with an M.Ed in Education Policy and Teacher Leadership. Hillary current lives in DC, where she is an elementary school teacher.


Ben Tomlin – Communications & Marketing Chair

pronouns: he/him/his

I’m a digital designer with roughly 7 years of agency experience. I am very passionate about design and the work I produce. I currently work for Beasley Media Group in St. Pete, FL. Beasley is a full scale ad agency and houses a handful of radio stations in the Bay area. I am the sole in-house designer, responsible for the ads the digital department produces as well as anything the radio stations need for events, social media or print. My past experiences have taught me design, branding, digital and print marketing and social media content creation and strategy. I’m very organized and haven’t really ever known anything but a quick workplace environment and hard deadlines. I am looking forward to potentially helping bring awareness to the chapter for future LGBTQ alumni and giving back to the university that helped me get to where I am today.


DJ JacksonMembership Chair

pronouns: he/him/his

DJ Jackson grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He works professionally as the Assistant Director of Multicultural Recruitment in Undergraduate Admissions at The University of Alabama. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in American History, a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration and an M.B.A. from UA. He currently serves as the President of Capstone Alliance, UA’s LBGTQ+ faculty, staff, and graduate student association and a Board Member of Druid City Pride, West Alabama’s pride organization. He is also a founding member of The University of Alabama LGBTQ Alumni Association Chapter.


Cokie Thompson In-State Events Chair

pronouns: she/her/hers

Cokie Thompson spent six years as a student at the University of Alabama from 2013-2019. After graduating with a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Higher Education Administration, she moved to Baton Rouge to facilitate leadership and service programming at LSU where she facilitated a variety of events, led the Tom W. Dutton Scholarship committee, and managed the LSU Food Pantry. She returned to Tuscaloosa in 2021 as the assistant director of the Blackburn Institute where she facilitates a variety of student programming including social events, lectures and panels, the Don and Barbara “Bobbie” Siegal Scholarship. Since 2020, she has served as the Vice Chair for Research and Assessment for the American College Personnel Association’s Commission for Student Involvement. In this role, she coordinates the Interchange, the Commission’s blog, administers the Commission’s annual research grant, and supports Commission programming online throughout the year and in person at ACPA Convention in March.


David van der GriffOut-of-State Chair

pronouns: he/him/his

David received his B.A. from the University of Alabama in 1988. He is a Senior Attorney with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and resides in Sacramento, CA with his husband Steve Palmer, who is also a UA alum. While at UA, David served as a President of Gay/Lesbian Support Services, now known as the Queer Student Association. He is one of the founders of the Elliott Jackson Jones Memorial Scholarship for LGBT Activism and considers it one of his proudest accomplishments.

Alex Camardelle Career & Networking Chair

pronouns: he/him/his

Dr. Alex Camardelle is a Mobile, Alabama native and 2012 graduate of the University of Alabama where he studied political science and minored in music. While at Bama, Alex served as an Avanti Team member and Associate Justice for the SGA’s Judiciary Council. He was also a member of the NAACP, Black Student Union, and co-founded the university’s annual Onyx celebration. Alex also joined Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated though the Theta Delta chapter at Bama. Since graduating, Alex has enjoyed a high-impact career in public policy, government affairs and philanthropy. He currently works at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies as Director of Workforce Policy. He also gained a master’s in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from Georgia State University. Alex and his husband Ricky live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Eli Strong –  Nominations Chair

pronouns: he/him/his

Born in raised in Alabama, Eli Strong (he/him) is an avid lifelong Bama fan who attended the University of Alabama from the fall of 1999 to the spring of 2005, earning both his BSW and MSW. During that time he co-founded Safe Zone, was an active member of the (then) GLBTA, and was a member of the Zeta Chi Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho. He then lived in Washington, DC for a decade, where he was the facilitator of the DC Area Transmasculine Society. Eli now lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and child but he stays active within the UA queer community, speaking at conferences and events like the Southeastern Student Leadership Conference, Druid City Pride, and Lavender Graduation.

Alexus Cumbie University & Government Relations Chair

pronouns: she/her/hers

Alexus M. Cumbie (she/her) is a strategist and policy consultant from Birmingham, Alabama with a background in public policy, strategic storytelling, and corporate social responsibility. Her work aims to ascend communities in the margin into political power and mobilize communities to challenge the public’s sociopolitical conscience through impactful storytelling. Leaning into her passion for grassroots organizing to inform legislation and address inequities in the Deep South, she advises companies on how to leverage their digital footprint to implement strategic campaigns and programming centered on social impact, social responsibility, civic engagement and community empowerment. Through the power and joy of storytelling, she merges her love for poetic verse and social justice. In her personal practice, she travels across the south performing in and hosting poetry slams to highlight the importance of self-expression, the beautification of social commentary, and the humanity that stems from crowding into a room to listen to a potpourri of narratives. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Business Administration with dual studies in political science and human resources from the University of Alabama and her graduate degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Political Communication.