Pride 2011 • Making business better for LGBT Dallas

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce works to improve the business climate for its members

Vedda.Tony
Tony Vedda

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Pride Guide Dedication

The 2012 Pride Guide was dedicated to the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce in recognition of the chamber’s work to advance equality and make things better for the community. And chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda said this week that the chamber has planned an even busier year ahead.

In October, the Out & Equal conference comes to Dallas. The chamber was instrumental in bringing that convention to the city, the largest LGBT group that Dallas has ever hosted.

Vedda said he hopes that more LGBT groups — both large and small — continue choosing Dallas for their meetings. He said he’d like to see  Creating Change return and for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund hold candidate training classes here. The next GALA choruses festival will be in Denver but Vedda’s hoping Dallas will snag the one after that.

Vedda said that a variety of smaller groups that have never been to Dallas hold annual conventions, specifically mentioning the Gay and

Lesbian Medical Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association as groups he’d like to see come to Dallas for their annual conventions.

And, of course, he hopes the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber will schedule an annual meeting in Dallas sometime in the next few years.

Vedda said that Dallas has an advantage in bringing groups to the city because of the good working relationship the chamber and the LGBT community in general have with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau and with other city institutions.

“We have the same goal as any chamber,” Vedda said. “We help our members become bigger and more profitable. That helps us do good work in the community.”

He said that when an LGBT businessperson tells him that they don’t need the chamber, he tells them that the chamber needs them. A strong LGBT business community helps provide good role models and supports the vast array of non-profit organizations as well as chamber projects, he said, adding that in many ways, the chamber is a big, professional “It Gets Better” organization.

The organization’s newest project is its LEAP scholarships.

“We love our acronyms,” Vedda said, “And LEAP stands for Leadership, Education, Advocacy Program.”

Students who self-identify as LGBT, members of LGBT families or allies who advocate for the LGBT community are eligible. The first scholarships will be awarded in December for the spring semester. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 15 and are available online at GLBTLEAP.org.

Winners will be announced Dec. 8 at the Holly Jolly Ball, which is also the chamber’s major fundraising event for LEAP. Tickets will be $75, with silent and live auctions raising money for scholarships and other LEAP projects.

Vedda said he expects applications for the 2012-13 school year to be available online soon after the first awards are made.

LEAP is also planning an LGBT leadership institute. Former participants in Leadership Lambda have been advising the chamber on what worked in the past. Vedda said he wants participants to leave with a good understanding of LBGT history and accomplishments.

“The goal is to develop more ‘best and brightest’ for the non-profit sector of our community,” he said.

Those who go on to attend Leadership  programs in Plano, Dallas or Fort Worth will be better representatives of the LGBT community, he said.

Working with the National GLBT Chamber, the North Texas chamber is offering a designation of LGBT-certified supplier, Vedda said.

“We’re working to make sure opportunities are given to our community like other minority groups,” he said.

The chamber holds two monthly general networking programs and maintains three closed networking groups.

“Those groups have closed millions of dollars in new business for members,” Vedda said.

Several fun events are coming up as well.

A Cedar Springs Road progressive mixer will be structured like a progressive dinner. The evening starts at Tan Bar on one end of the block and works its way up the street, stopping at several chamber members before ending at Axiom Sushi.

The annual chamber dinner will be held in March. A community marketing conference will be held that month as well.

Vedda said he hopes each of these events and everything the chamber does helps Dallas’ LGBT businesses grow and prosper. He said a strong LGBT business community supports equality and the non-profit groups throughout the community that make it get better for everyone.

For more information, go online to GLBTChamber.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas CVB launches Razzle Dazzle sweepstakes

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau gets in on the action with their Razzle Dazzle Sweepstakes celebrating National Gay Pride Month here in Big D. As Razzle Dazzle Dallas makes its return after eight years, one person can win a package to make it, like, super special. VIP access and three nights at the Melrose is the best anyone could ask for.

Here’s the official word:

The Razzle Dazzle Sweepstakes provides one lucky winner and their guest with accommodations for three nights (June 2-4) at the historic Warwick Melrose Hotel, VIP access to all Razzle Dazzle Dallas events, exclusive gift bags and more.

“June is an exciting month to visit Dallas,” said Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas CVB. “We welcome the return of Razzle Dazzle Dallas, as both visitors and residents have an opportunity to participate in five days of events and entertainment created by the city’s vibrant LGBT population—the nation’s sixth largest. While they’re here, our VIP guests will also see Dallas’ world class arts, shopping, dining and entertainment.”

Entries for the Razzle Dazzle Sweepstakes will be accepted online through noon on May 13, 2011, and a winner will be announced shortly thereafter. The sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the U.S. at least 21 years of age or older at the time of entry. For official rules and to enter, head here.


—  Rich Lopez

Dallas CVB raffling off Super Bowl tickets

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Despite the common stereotype that gay men don’t like football, I am willing to bet there are some out there who would be thrilled to get to go to Super Bowl XLV, not to mention the lesbians who are football fans.

And with the NFL’s championship game coming to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington next February, the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau is giving even those of us who couldn’t normally afford a Super Bowl ticket a chance to see the big game firsthand by raffling off two Super Bowl XLV tickets,valued at $2,500.

The raffle tickets are $50 each and will be available through midnight on Oct. 31. The random drawing will be held Nov. 1, and the winner will get two tickets to the championship game on Feb. 6, with “premium seats,” according to CVB President and CEO Phillip Jones.

You have to be 18 years or older and reside in the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia to be participate in the raffle. But if you meet those requirements, you can buy as many of the $50 raffle tickets as you want to. Credit cards are accepted, and the raffle prize doesn’t include airfare, lodging or other potential expenses of attending the game.

A portion of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, which operates The Bridge homeless shelter.

For more information or to purchase a raffle ticket, go here.

—  admin

Out & Equal convention coming to Dallas in 2011

Largest LGBT national convention should have an $8 million economic impact on city, officials estimate


DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

George Carrancho
George Carrancho

The 2011 Out & Equal convention will be held in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, officials with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We’re excited to host the 2011 Out & Equal Conference in Dallas,” said Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the CVB. “With its more than $8 million economic impact to the city, it will be the largest LGBT convention held in Dallas to date.”

Jones said that convention and leisure travel to Dallas has increased in the past five years.

“We were selected to host this convention in part because of our strong, cohesive LGBT community,” he said. “This community support is essential as we continue to promote Dallas as a top LGBT destination.”

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is a national organization based in San Francisco advocating from within companies for workplace equality for LGBT employees. They provide a variety of services to companies and employee resource groups and offer diversity training specific to LGBT workplace issues.

There are 18 regional affiliates, including ones in Dallas and Houston.

Tony Vedda, executive director of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, said his group partnered with the Dallas CVB to bring the convention to the city.

“They were looking at several cities,” he said. “We’re thrilled they chose us.”

Earlier this year, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force held its annual Creating Change conference in Dallas for the second time.Officials estimated the impact of that conference at about $4 million for the city.

Vedda said that successfully hosting one LGBT event helps bring the next one.

“It shows the rest of the world that Dallas is a welcoming city,” he said.

Vedda said that the GLBT Chamber works well with the city. When the area was bidding on this season’s Super Bowl, the GLBT Chamber was asked to send a letter supporting the bid.

Vedda said that these events are very important to the city’s economy and has a positive effect on LGBT-owned businesses, especially in Oak Lawn.

“When we bring in conferences, those people leave lots of tax money for us,” he said. “That’s money that local residents don’t have to spend for services themselves.”

Veronica L. Torres, director of diversity and community relations with the CVB called the convention a big win for Dallas. She said this was the largest LGBT convention the city has booked.

Each year different groups partner with the CVB to stage events, like the Dallas Bears who host the annual Texas Bear Round Up and Dallas Southern Pride which holds its annual black gay Pride each fall, Torres said.

In addition to Out & Equal, the CVB helped book Reaching Out MBA for Oct. 2011 at the Fairmont Hotel. Torres said that 500 to 1,000 people are expected for that convention. In Sept. 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Band Association will meet at the Melrose Hotel.

Torres said she is hoping a small meeting of GALA choruses managers in Dallas next month translates into the convention of LGBT choral association booking the city. They would take over the all of the performing arts venues in the Arts District.

“Dallas is our hometown,” said George Carrancho of American Airlines Rainbow Team. “We’ve been a partner of Out & Equal for at least eight years.”

Carrancho worked with the CVB and GLBT Chamber to bring Out & Equal to Dallas.

He said Out & Equal recognizes the work of the airline. American’s chief commercial officer, Virasb Vahidi, will be the opening speaker of this year’s convention in Los Angeles, and Denise Lynn, vice president of diversity and leadership strategies, is up for the Out & Equal’s Champion Award, given annually to an ally.

To help Dallas win the convention, Carancho said he offered the convention an aggressive discount program.

“This is a big win for American and a big win for Dallas,” he said.

Vedda said that a number of things work in favor of the city of Dallas including the annual press tour for travel writers.

“We get beaucoups of great coverage,” he said. “We’ve done a good job of showcasing Dallas and Fort Worth as welcoming cities.”

Vedda said groups are impressed by the corporate support the local LGBT community gets.

“And not every city can call the mayor, ask him to come to help us sell the city and he does,” Vedda said.

Vedda said the GLBT Chamber continues to work with the Dallas CVB and they have their sites set on several additional conferences, conventions and LGBT sports groups.

“We’re always working on bringing new stuff to Dallas,” he said.

Officials with Out & Equal declined to discuss the 2011 convention, saying they do not announce the coming year’s convention until the end of the convention for the current year.

The 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Summit is scheduled for Oct. 5-8 in Los Angeles.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens