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Founding of WAPA

Wellesley Alum Pride Alliance, Wellesley’s shared interest group for LGBTQ+ alums, has been decades in the making.

The groundwork to launch a group like WAPA was laid three decades ago when a group of LGBTQ+ alums began to meet informally during the annual Reunion. Over those three decades, Chelle Riendeau ’81 worked with the Wellesley College Alumnae Association to organize these events, and eventually they were included in the official Reunion schedule. In 2009, Chelle, along with Amelia Manderscheid ’08 and Michelle Gillett ’95, reached out to alums who had identified themselves as “les/bi/trans” at one of those Reunion gatherings, and asked if they would like to help formalize a group for LBT (as it was known then) alums. Among those alums was Malinda Lo ’96.

Although this initial committee met several times in 2010, and it began work on writing a set of Bylaws, progress stalled in 2011. In 2016, when Malinda moved from San Francisco back to the Boston area, she wondered whatever had happened to that LGBTQ+ alum group, and decided to reach out to those who had been initially involved to get to the ball rolling again.

Nine alums joined together on a Founding Committee:

Michelle Gillett '95
Kjersten Gmeiner ’88
Erin Judge ’02
Malinda Lo '96
Amelia Manderscheid ’08
Karen McArthur '82
Chelle Riendeau '81
Polly Munts Talen '77
Jennifer (Jay) Vanasco '94

In May 2017, the Founding Committee formally voted to confirm our Bylaws, and WAPA was officially born.

The only catch? WAPA had no members! Wellesley had never kept track of alums’ sexual orientation or gender identity. That meant unlike Wellesley Alumnae of African Descent, Wellesley Asian Alumnae Alliance, and Wellesley Latina Alumnae Network, WAPA was at a disadvantage when it came to launching as a shared interest group. The Founding Committee decided to move forward with a Temporary Governing Board during WAPA’s first year, in order to build a membership base that could then elect a full Governing Board in 2018.

The Temporary Governing Board for 2017-2018 consisted of:

Malinda Lo '96
Acting President

Michelle Gillett '95
Acting Vice President

Amelia Manderscheid '08
Acting Vice President

Amanda Braun '12
Acting Vice President for Membership

Ellie Smith '14
Acting Vice President for Membership

During 2017-18, WAPA launched a closed Facebook group for LGBTQ+ alums and began building an official mailing list. In June 2018, WAPA's new members elected its first Governing Board to serve from 2018-21.

WAPA aims to be fully representative and inclusive of all LGBTQ+ alums, and encourages those who have questions, concerns, or ideas about the group to contact us by email at askwapa@wellesley.edu. WAPA looks forward to working with all of Wellesley’s LGBTQ+ alums to build a shared interest group we can all be proud of.