University of Louisville alum Andy Downey received the UofL LGBT Alumni Network’s Alumnus of the Year Award, with an added honor: the award will hereafter be called the Andy Downey Alumni Award.
The name change recognizes Downey’s extensive work with the LGBT Alumni Network, which he founded in 2013 and served for three years as president. Under his leadership, the network has endowed a $2,000 annual scholarship for LGBT students, hosted an annual mixer for LGBT alumni and students and sponsored the Alternative Thanksgiving for LGBT students, for whom holidays at home are often a trying time.
The award was created to recognize alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the LGBT community.
“I was surprised, I had no idea the award was coming, and I was shocked when I found out they renamed it for me,” Downey said. “It’s overwhelming and humbling.”
UofL’s LGBT Alumni Network was founded to enrich the lives of LGBT students, alumni, their families and allies through social events, educational programs and scholarships. The network works in partnership with the LGBT Center on campus, where students, faculty and staff of all stripes can come together for companionship, education and advocacy in support of the university’s diversity initiative.
Many of the network’s members graduated from UofL at a time when it was less inclusive than it is today. When reaching out to LGBT alumni, Downey touts the great strides that UofL has made in recent years as a way to inspire them to reconnect with their alma mater.
This surge of alumni involvement was instrumental in UofL being rated the most LGBT-friendly public university in the South by Campus Pride Index in 2015.
Downey has been involved in LGBT advocacy at UofL since 2006 when he was a student at the Brandeis School of Law. He served as president of the law school’s Lambda Law Caucus, a social and political group fostering support for LGBT issues in the legal community. This concern for marginalized populations carries into his professional life as an attorney specializing in representing Spanish-speaking clients.
“Andy is the driving force behind the group’s progress to date. If it were not for Andy’s hard work and vision, there would not be an Alumni council,” said Downey’s successor, Will Baumgardner. “We are a strong, vibrant group today because of Andy’s initial efforts.”