Celebrating the Chamber's Anniversary: How It Started, How It's Going, What's Ahead
By Tammi Wallace, Co-Founder, President & CEO
How It Started
If it’s February, the Chamber is celebrating its Anniversary month. It was on this day, in 2016, that Gary Wood and I officially launched the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The launch event part of the “LGBT Business Builders” event sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). Other collaborating partners for the event included Houston Community College and OutSmart Magazine.
How It’s Going
Since 2016, the Chamber has become THE leading voice for the LGBTQ+ and Allied business community in the region. As Gary and I stood on the podium that day in 2016, we never imagined that we would come so far, so fast, and especially considering the pandemic (not to mention Hurricane Harvey, Texas Freeze and….). We’ve been here every step of the way with our members and Corporate Partners to support them through ups and downs. The progress over the past six years underscores the need and the importance of the work the Chamber is doing.
Read more about the Chamber’s accomplishments over the past six years here.
The Chamber’s progress and many accomplishments are in part because of the investment that our members and Corporate Partners have made in the Chamber and the dedicated time and support of individuals such as our Board (both past and present), Executive Administrators and Founding Leadership Council. Thank you to every member, Corporate Partner, strategic and collaboration partners and others that have supported the Chamber’s invested in the organization and supported its growth and impact in the region.
All these years later, it’s hard to imagine that the LGBTQ+ business community had no voice, no representation, or, as we like to say, “seat at the table,” when it comes to the economic ecosystem in our city, county and region. We set out to change that in 2016, and now six years later, the Chamber is that voice and continues the important mission of driving economic opportunity and economic inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.
Having representation and a “seat at the table” from an economic lens matters. Considering various economic indicators and the data reflects that LGBTQ+ people face higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, barriers to health care, and joblessness. Our community historically has not had the opportunities to generate wealth or benefit from generational wealth passed down from generation to generation because of discrimination and marginalization. As the data shows, our community is woefully behind on any economic measure, and this must change.
Not to mention that there continues to be repeated attacks on the LGBTQ+ community with continued legislation that targets our community, and overwhelmingly targeting the transgender community. Legislation that is intended to harm the LGBTQ+ community, that creates economic hardships, drives discrimination and hatred and that sets our community back even further. This is yet another reason why we must have a strong economic voice in the region and across the state to advocate for our human rights from a position of community and business.
Our work to support the LGBTQ+ community as a whole will grow in the coming years because we need to ensure that our community has the resources and tools to generate wealth, have access to high-quality inclusive jobs, capital to start a business, financial access and so much more. To continue our work and grow our impact, we need resources and support in the years ahead. You can help.
Support the Mission and Be Part of the Work Ahead!
There are great ways that you can support the Chamber and push our work focused on economic inclusion forward.
1. Join the Chamber, whether an LGBTQ+-owned business or Allied-business, or even an individual who wants to support the mission and work that we are doing to support the LGBTQ+ business community and overall community.
2. If you are reading this and you work for a medium or large company in the region, make the ask that your company get involved with the Chamber. As an organization, the Chamber is at the intersection of business and community and it’s a great opportunity to invest in the work we are doing to support businesses, LGBTQ+ and Allied employees and more. We encourage our current Chamber Corporate Partners to increase their involvement level as well!
3. Donate to the Greater Houston LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Through the Foundation we’ve done remarkable work including spearheading the Chamber Holiday Food Drive to support LGBTQ+ Seniors and supported BIPOC and women-owned businesses through the Comcast RISE program. And…there is more work on the horizon to support the LGBTQ+ community.
4. Buy LGBTQ+! Make a concerted effort to buy from LGBTQ+ and Allied owned businesses. You can find a list of these businesses (from small to large) in the Chamber Directory.
5. Follow the Chamber on social media. Follow the Chamber and share out the work and posts especially highlighting LGBTQ+ and Allied business owners.
6. Tell a businessowner you know or just a friend about the Chamber. Encourage them to get involved today!
We’re excited about this next phase for the Chamber and the positive impact we will have on the LGBTQ+ community. Be part of it!
In 2021, the Chamber celebrated its milestone five-year anniversary. Read more about the celebration, photo albums through the years, proclamations, testimonials and much more here.