Outside, the Tidal Basin was bursting with cherry blossoms adjacent the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Inside, there was also a season of change as the Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CAGLCC) celebrated its first annual dinner on Thursday, April 2 -- and the Potomac Executive Network (PEN), its last. But hold your tears for PEN, this was a name change, not a death in the family.
A more bittersweet note was struck, however, as PEN President Joe Kapp used the gathering to announce that he'd be stepping down, though remaining a member of the board. But as one leader's step-down is often another's step-up, so it was on this night, with Ken White accepting the reins as CAGLCC's president.
Amid cocktails and gourmet catering, CAGLCC honored members of the community, including the debut of the Transgender Business Person of the Year award, which went to Alyson Meiselman. An attorney, Meiselman took the opportunity to urge community members to be aware of those non-senior attorneys and support staff who solicit their business and provide services and deserve credit for such, as, she noted, homophobia and transphobia and not strangers to the legal profession.
Ebone Bell, honored as Future Business Leader, prompted a round of applause by pointing out her mother in the audience. She also urged CAGLCC members to share their wisdom: ''I'm like a sponge, [and] I'm definitely looking for more mentors.''
Male Business Person of the Year went to Metro Weekly co-publisher and editor-in-chief Randy Shulman, who commented about CAGLCC putting him in the company of so many who have graced the cover of his magazine -- Bell, Kapp and White among them.
''Many of you have been on the cover, and many of you will probably end up on the cover,'' he told the crowd. ''That makes me very proud.''
Mitchell Gold, of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture designers and manufacturers, was honored with CAGLCC's Lifetime Achievement Award. While hitting themes of business, Gold also urged attendees to help him fight religion-based bigotry: ''If each of us will take the time to do something really important, to change a bigot's mind, that's a lifetime achievement for each and every one of us.''
Also honored were Sandra Goldthorpe, former president of the Maryland Lesbian & Gay Law Association, as Female Business Person of the Year; Pete Exis of Image X Photography, with the Paul Ludeman Volunteer of the Year Award; Stephen J. Moore and the DC Economic Partnership as Community Ally; and Ernst & Young as Corporate Partner of the Year.