For those of you who are reading about the Chamber for the first time, it's short for Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; to everyone else, congratulations! You know who we are, so the next time you hear us mentioned feel free to do some PR for us, like, ''The Chamber is the go-to resource for LGBT business in the D.C. metro area.'' In the meantime, to further your Chamber education, a few highlights from 2012.
We rocked it.
CAGLCC Executive Director Mark Guenther
(Photo by Todd Franson)
The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) presented us with their ''Chamber of The Year'' award in August. Sam McClure, NGLCC director of affiliate relations and external affairs presented the award at the group's annual conference in Chicago: ''The Chamber of The Year stands as a shining example of what an organization should be. It is established and stable; it has weathered ups and downs and continues to see growth in its core products. It's engaged locally and nationally in policy, supplier diversity, certification and the LGBT business movement. This chamber is a role model for others. Building upon a successful 22 years solely as a networking group, this organization restructured itself as a chamber that focuses on facilitating the success of LGBT businesses and their allies. Their decision to hire an executive director resulted in their membership doubling in just three-and-a-half short years. They've established themselves as the local organization of choice that provides outstanding value and support to their members.''
In November, we demonstrated we could bring business, fun and community together at g.life, the Chamber's most ambitious project to date. Interactive exhibits, street performers and educational seminars enlivened our pop-up metropolis at the Marriott Wardman Park for ''One Day in D.C., All Things LGBT.''
If the Chamber started out as a networking group, for the past four years we've hit the concept out of the ballpark at Mega Networking. In March, 1,600 attendees stood in line outside Town Danceboutique to schmooze with the best, connect with community partners, visit with vendors and experience the power of the LGBT business community.
Our Annual Awards Dinner, ''A Salute to Business Excellence,'' recognized outstanding business leadership. An exquisite meal prepared by the kitchen of celebrity chef Art Smith coupled with a beautiful room at The Liaison, provided the context for an elegant, meaningful evening.
''Pridelicious: The Chamber Means Business,'' our theme for Capital Pride, proved once again that even those most determined to stand along the sidelines will join the parade. We represent LGBT business and we're proud of it.
The Chamber, a largely volunteer organization, hosted more than 100 networking and educational events in 2012. The amount of care, knowledge and dedication that goes into each one never ceases to amaze me. It comes back to pride of ownership, I believe. Every one of our board members, committee chairs and volunteers derive a great sense of accomplishment in the work we do for the LGBT business community. That said, very little of all this excellence would be possible without the vision and leadership of Executive Director Mark Guenther.
2012 was a stellar year and we fully intend to build upon it in 2013. Rock on.
Ernesto M. Santalla, CAGLCC board president, owns Studio Santalla Inc., a full-service architecture and interior design firm in Washington.
The Chamber Means Business. For more information visit caglcc.org.