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Jack Berger - 2021 Volunteer of the Year

Just about everybody knows Jack! If you don’t know Jack Berger…well you’re just missing out! Ask most people in the Houston’s LGBTQ+ community and Jack is known and beloved for all he does for the community. Jack is the ultimate connector and always connecting Chamber Members to opportunities and more.

It's no surprise that Jack was chosen as the 2021 Chamber Volunteer of the Year. He has been a champion for the Chamber since it started. He joined the Chamber Board in 2020 and has been a tremendous advocate for the mission of the organization and currently serves as the Chair-Elect. Whether recruiting new members, sponsor engagement, assisting with event planning, hosting the First Friday Meet & Eat, handling LGBTBE site visits and much more, he is always promoting the Chamber and giving his time and talent.

Every nonprofit should be so lucky to have a “Jack Berger” as part of their leadership. And…it’s not just the Chamber that benefits from his leadership and dedication! Many people know Jack through his role as the Advertising Media Manager for OutSmart Magazine (one of our Founding Members) and he also services as the Vice President, Media Relations for Hawthorne Capital (another Chamber Member). Plus, he has given back through leadership involved with many LGBTQ+ organizations in Houston including EPAH, Lesbian Health Initiative, Bunnies on the Bayou and more.

We sat down with Jack to talk about being recognized as the 2021 Chamber Volunteer of the Year. Read more to hear about his dedication and passion, why he’s involved in the Chamber and get to know Jack.

Congratulations on being recognized as the 2021 Chamber Volunteer of the Year! What does this recognition mean for you?

When I get involved with an organization, I try to do the best that I can to positively impact the overall mission of that organization. I certainly don’t set out to win awards, but it is a great feeling to be recognized as the Volunteer of the Year. I guess it means that folks have taken notice of what my contributions are and that it is appreciated.

Why did you get involved in the Chamber?

I was involved in the former Chamber that unfortunately did not succeed and ultimately was dissolved. So, when co-founders Tammi Wallace and Gary Wood started this new version of the Chamber, it was exciting to have OutSmartMagazine be a founding member and be there from the start. When you are the voice of the LGBTQ+ community, like OutSmart has been for 28+ years, it was an easy decision to get on board.

You’ve dedicated a tremendous amount of volunteer time to the Chamber over the years through your service on the board. Why is giving back to the Chamber important for you?

I was very happy to join the board a few years ago, as I am a firm believer that you need to give back to the communities that support you and your interests. A strong Chamber means that we have empowered LGBTQ+-owned businesses and Allies that can benefit from our community members having a seat at the table when it comes to building business and success

You give so much to the LGBTQ+ community in Houston including the Chamber. Can you share more about the other ways you give back through your time and talent?

I love being a dot connector and helping our community be more successful. In addition to my Chamber board position, I have been the president of EPAH, the Executive Professional Association of Houston, the oldest LGBT professional networking organization in Houston for 5 terms. And, through my position at Hawthorne Capital, I am fortunate to help support a number of local LGBT beneficiaries with sponsorship support like AIDS Foundation Houston, The Montrose Center, Avenue 360, the Chamber, the Pride Band and Share Our Blessings.

I have also been the president of Bunnies on the Bayou for 4 years and a board member for OutReach United, Bayou City Performing Arts and the Lesbian Health Initiative.

As a board member, what are you most proud of in terms of the Chamber’s accomplishments over the past five plus years?

About 5 years ago, I started my personal mission to make the Houston Astros aware that they were one of only a few MLB teams without a PRIDE Night on their schedule. It took the clout of the Chamber to help and two years ago we were thrilled to get our first Astros PRIDE Night.

Despite it being a victim of COVID-19, last year the dream was realized. Around the same time, Tammi and I were asked by the Houston Rockets to assist with their first PRIDE Night and it was a huge success. In fact, we also have PRIDE Nights with the Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash and Houston Saber Cats. Now if we could just get those Houston Texans!

As a board member, what energizes you most about what the Chamber will do in the next five plus years?

Every year the Chamber has shown growth, even in a pandemic. We have tremendous leadership and a great administrative team that makes it easy to be a board member. When you see the potential and the continued progressand the growth in areas like membership and programs, you cannot help but be energized for the next five years and more.

How does the work and mission of the Chamber align with your personal values?

The mission of the Chamber aligns quite well with my personal values…meeting new people and learning about their businesses is fascinating. The Chamber provides an opportunity for business owners and professionals to improve and grow; however, it is still up to that business or individual to put in the time and effort to reap the rewards. If you don’t put in the effort, you cannot expect the results to be optimized.

We know you’re a strong advocate for the Chamber. Thank you! When you’re talking to other business owners about the Chamber, what do you share to encourage them to get involved? Why should businesses and even individualprofessionals get involved in the Chamber?

My message is simple - the Chamber is the best at providing a unique opportunity for LGBT-owned businesses, their allies and LGBT professionals, as a forum to learn, grow and prosper by being a part of something larger. The Chamber has proven that it can get BUSINESS done and have a tremendous effect on its membership. The cost is minimal, but the rewards will be substantial!

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