Gainesville, Fla (June 21, 2021) – The University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni announced this month the election of its 2021-2022 Board of Directors: Gordon Van Owen, Juan Leguizamon, Bryan Ruiz, Rock Charles, Woody Bass, Michelle Wagner, Josh Czupryk, Georges Obayi and Arielle Gregory. These individuals will lead the reorganization effort and provide strategic direction for the affiliate group of the University of Florida Alumni Association.
“Becoming a Gator transformed my life, even at an early age. The Gator network has been my biggest asset, both personally and professionally. When I first arrived on campus, I was not out yet, but what I found there was a welcoming community that was ready to embrace and cultivate me into the person I am today,” said newly elected President Gordon Van Owen. “Being elected president of the LGBTQ+ affiliate group is a full-circle moment for me. My hope is that our group will solidify a network for LGBTQ+ Gator alumni who will then work to make UF a more inclusive experience for all students.”
The 2021-2022 University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni board of directors will include:
Gordon Van Owen; President (He/Him/His) – Gordon Van Owen graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2006 and completed his master’s in mass communications in 2008. He later earned a master’s in education from Columbia University and is currently working on his doctoral dissertation at Fordham University. He currently resides in New York, where he has worked in education as an English teacher and teacher leader since 2008.
Juan Leguizamon; Vice-President (He/Him/His) – Juan Leguizamon graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 2019. Since graduation, Juan has worked as a software developer and currently lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Bryan Ruiz; Treasurer (He/Him/His) – Bryan Ruiz graduated from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising with a minor in Business Administration in 2006. He has been working at Google for over 7 years and currently a Global Media Lead in Google’s New York City office. His role is to work with global brands to navigate the complexity of Google’s media ad products and produce key strategies to be successful with Google across all markets globally.
Rock Charles; Secretary (He/Him/His) – Rock Charles earned his bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in Latin Studies in 2010. Rock is originally from South Orange, New Jersey and has also lived in West Palm Beach, Florida before moving to Australia where he currently works as a medical doctor. He is in the process of transitioning to a position with Doctors Without Borders.
Woody Bass III; VP, Communications (He/Him/His) – Woody Bass graduated from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations in 2020. He is currently a Business Analyst designing and managing solutions for large transformational projects in the financial technology sector. Woody recently relocated back to his hometown of Orlando, Florida from Atlanta, Georgia.
Michelle Wagner; Director, Outreach (She/Her/Hers) – Michelle Wagner currently resides in Gainesville, Florida and serves as the Associate Director of Development for University Initiatives at the University of Florida. She graduated from Kennesaw State in 2008 with a degree in Business Administration and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Global Strategic Communications from the University of Florida.
Josh Czupryk; Director, Academics (He/Him/His) – Josh Czupryk graduated with a dual degree in public relations and political science in 2007. Currently located in Memphis, TN, Josh serves as Chief of Staff for Freedom Prep Charter Schools.
Georges Obayi; Director, Young Alumni (He/Him/His) – Georges Obayi graduated with a bachelor’s in industrial and systems engineering in December 2020. Georges recently relocated from Gainesville to Washington D.C. where he works as a Government and Public Services Analyst at Deloitte Consulting.
Arielle Gregory; Member-At-Large (She/They) – Arielle Gregory graduated in Spring 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Biology and History. She currently lives in Miami, FL working as a medical scribe for an orthopedic hand surgeon.
“The reorganization of the LGBTQ+ Alumni affiliate group is a watershed moment for UF and the UFAA,” said Van Owen. “There are countless LGBTQ+ Gator alumni around the world who have been looking for ways to reconnect with and give back to UF, and I believe the affiliate group is one step in bridging that connection between UF and its LGBTQ+ alumni.”
“The UF Alumni Association is very proud to be relaunching the Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni,” said Brian Danforth, Interim Executive Director, UFAA. “Representation of all communities that make up the Gator Nation® is critical to the success and longevity of the Alumni Association.”
About the University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni
The University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni is an affiliate member of the University of Florida Alumni Association (UFAA) and connects LGBTQ+ alumni, current students and their allies to the Gator Nation. The University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni seeks to build an environment of community, diversity and inclusion while promoting the university and championing its missions. The organization is made up of hundreds of members from across the United States and around the world including Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, South Korea, Taiwan.
To become a member or connect with the University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni, find us at one of the following links or follow us on social media at: