Photography by Robert Dodge Photography
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce recognized outstanding leadership in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business arena at the 13th Annual National Dinner Awards at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The event brought together more than 800 business owners, corporate representatives and LGBT chamber leaders from around the globe. Following a succession of triumphs for the LGBT community — including a new executive order in Massachusetts to include LGBT businesses in statewide procurement and passage of the Marriage Equality Act — the mood was festive.
This year’s honorees included:
- MillerCoors LLC, which was named Corporation of the Year in recognition of its support and dedication to ensuring fairness and equal opportunity for LGBT suppliers, customers and employees. NGLCC cited MillerCoors’ history of advocacy for equality of all people through its early integration of LGBT-inclusive corporate policies and continued support of LGBT organizations.
- LGBT activist Jim Obergefell, who was honored with the NGLCC/American Airlines ExtrAA Mile Award, which celebrates a courageous leader or organization that has championed LGBT equality despite incredible odds. He was also the plaintiff in the landmark marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges, which provided for same-sex marriage throughout the country.
- LGBT-owned business Social Driver, led by business partners and husbands Thomas Sanchez and Anthony Shop. The company is a marketing agency that uses social media strategies to drive results. Along with a wealth of knowledge and in-depth corporate experience, Social Driver maintains a serious commitment to working with other LGBT- and diverse-owned business enterprises.
- Kimberlee Sours, supplier diversity manager at Capital One Financial Corp. Sours serves as an active member of the NGLCC Corporate Advisory Council and Procurement Council. Last year, she was selected to join the Corporate Development and Engagement Committee on the Procurement Council, a role in which she cultivated new NGLCC corporate members and retained existing ones.
“NGLCC is more committed than ever to strengthening the LGBT business community. And we are not alone in that fight,” said NGLCC co-founder and CEO Chance Mitchell. “Over the last year, we have added 19 new corporate partners, and they are just as committed to empowering the economic realities for the LGBT community as we are.
Through their supplier diversity programs, these new partners join nearly one-third of the Fortune 500 in giving LGBT business owners an equitable seat at the table. ”
Event speakers, including U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Jim Obergefell, reflected on the successes of the previous year and reaffirmed the hard work still ahead. Castro also signed a strategic memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and NGLCC in a show of solidarity and support for the LGBT business community.
NGLCC co-founder and President Justin Nelson reiterated the ongoing importance of fighting for LGBT equality. “There is still much to do in our broader public policy fights for inclusion,” he said. “I hope we all leave here tonight feeling more inspired for future successes, more driven and more prepared for the battles ahead. There is much still to do, but this is our time. Together, we can leave an indelible print on history.”