4 Years and Going Strong!
In celebration of the Chamber’s 4-Year Anniversary, our Co-Founder & Board Chair, delivered these remarks to a crowd of over 100 people at the Anniversary Celebration. We celebrated the evening at the Alley Theatre with so many incredible supporters and the members who have helped the Chamber succeed and grow.
Unbelievable! It’s been almost 4 years to the day when we launched the Chamber. With the support of our Founding Leadership Council, our sister chamber, the North Texas LGBT Chamber, OutSmart Magazine and the NGLCC, we were able to up ramp the chamber in less than 60 days. Less than a year later, 8 of our members were participating in the Business Connect program with the Super Bowl in Houston using their LGBTBE® certification.
A year before we launched, Gary Wood and I were meeting, strategizing, and identifying key resource. There was one theme in all of our conversations and planning. We wanted to launch an organization that had impact on the community. Not just a networking organization, not just an events driven organization but a chamber that connected members of the LGBTQ & Allied Business Community. A chamber that is constantly striving to create economic opportunity and ultimately economic inclusion in every facet of our city and region.
Four years later, we are experiencing incredible growth and adding new members every month and rolling out new programming and events. We launched a collaboration with the Texas LGBT Chambers including Austin, North Texas and San Antonio to drive even more collaboration, connection with a statewide business community and make sure we have a “seat at the table” in terms of economic development across our great state.
We’ve added even more strategic partners to support our members and looking at even more and deeper collaborations. Keep an eye out for some very exciting announcements such as the launch of an LGBTBE Roundtable Program for our certified members!
I look around this room and see so many of our members that have done business together. Members who have found resources to support them and know that their values align, and they can simply be who they are and get the support they need. I hear the stories over and over that the Chamber has been a connective tissue to create a strong and thriving LGBTQ & Allied Business Community.
Many of you have heard me say ….We have so much more work to do to ensure that the LGBTQ Business Community is at the table and we have access to economic opportunity. Over the past 4 years, we’ve heard the stories and seen the struggles when a trans business owner who is transitioning has to hire a “front person” because the owner cannot be the “face” of the business for fear of losing long-time clients.
Or when an LGBTQ business owner, in tears, told me they had lost clients and revenue when the client realized they were gay.
Or when a LGBTQ business owner hears me overtalking at a local hotel to one of our board members, stops me after the meeting, wants to know more…and then says…I just can’t be out much less an out business because I am scared I will lose business. My heart sank and my eyes welled with tears hearing her and knowing she could not be her full and authentic self.
With these stories and more…we have so much more work to do. So…what do you say? Let’s keep building the Chamber for these LGBTQ Business Owners so they don’t have to worry about hiding who we are or losing clients. Let’s keep collaborating and building more relationships across other diverse communities. Let’s keep working to create unprecedented economic opportunity for the LGBTQ & Allied Business Community.
Tonight…in this room…relationships are being created, businesses are being connected, an LGBTQ entrepreneur is thinking about launching a business. This is the power of our work today and we will do going forward. Let’s…work…together!
Speaking of working together…
I want to give a shout out to our Allies! To all of our incredible Allies and Allied Members – Thank YOU! We don’t and will not go it alone. You are our rock.
To our other Co-Founder, Gary Wood, our amazing board, Founding Leadership Council, volunteers and executive administrators – thank you for your unending commitment to the Chamber.
To our Corporate Partners, Members, Strategic Partners including the SBA and NGLCC, Community Partners – thank you!
Co-Founder & Board Chair
Thank you to our Anniversary Celebration Sponsors for Your Support!
Presenting Sponsor – Lane Lewis Agency LLC
Host – The Alley Theatre
Check out the photos from the Anniversary Celebration