North Texas GLBT Chamber awards $14,500 in scholarships

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce announced winners of its GLBT LEAP — GLBT Leadership Education & Advocacy Program — scholarships. LEAP scholarships are awarded to residents of Texas who self-identified LGBT, members of LGBT families or allies who have been strongly supportive of the LGBT community.

Thanks to a generous donation by Texas Instruments, this year’s scholars include two recipients of the Steve Lyle Educational Scholarship — $2,500 was awarded to Judith Velazquez, of Schulenburg, Tex., who is pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Texas, and Melvin Rodriguez, of Houston, who is pursuing a Master of International Affairs/International Politics degree at University of California – La Jolla. Lyle served on the first board of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce who retired from Texas Instruments in 2015.

The $2,000 Rob Ruhlin Memorial Law Scholarship was awarded o Adam Greenup, of Arlington. He is attending UNT Dallas College of Law. The scholarship was established by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce to honor the late Rob Ruhlin, a Chamber board member who lost his life in 2014.

Derek Miller of Fair Oaks Ranch, Tex., was awarded the $1,500 LEAP Film & Television Scholarship. Miller is pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree at Texas State University.

Three additional scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each were awarded to Margaret Neuner of San Rafael, Calif. (John F. Kennedy University, Calif.); Jordan Richardson of Lufkin (University of Texas); Matthew Chester of Austin (University of Texas).

Founded in 2009 by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, GLBT LEAP has awarded 33 scholarships valued at $55,000.

“Scholarships are at the core of the GLBT LEAP mission to support young adults and nurture leaders in the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender community,”said Candy Marcum, GLBT LEAP Board Chair. This year’s cohort of scholars reinforces our mission and demonstrate the breadth of disciplines being pursued by our future leaders.”

—  David Taffet

Dallas Voice signed amicus brief

amicus briefEven though the hearing is over and an expected two month wait has begun, I just learned Dallas Voice signed an amicus brief to Obergefell v. Ohio, the marriage equality case.

The brief was signed by 379 business across the country. Dallas Voice is the only LGBT publication among the signers.

Major North Texas-based businesses on the list are American Airlines, AT&T and Kimberley-Clark. No, ExxonMobil, surprisingly, isn’t there.

Several other small businesses from the area are also among the signers including Law Office of Lorie L. Burch PC, David Mack Henderson Income Tax Preparation, Steve Graves Insurance Agency, Stonewall Behavioral Health and Uptown Physicians Group.

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce are two of several local LGBT chambers to sign.

No Texas sports franchises are includes. The New England Patriots is the only professional sports team listed.

The brief’s theme is business benefits from diversity.

“To reap the rewards of diversity, employers need to be able to recruit and retain top talent, in part though equitable and competitive benefits packages,” the brief states.

“Employees in same-sex relationships receive varying, if any, access to the rights, benefits and privileges that different-sex couples enjoy,” it says.

The brief concludes, “marriage discrimination injures amici’s [signers] businesses.”

—  David Taffet

Gay matchmaking service He’s For Me opens Dallas office


From left, He’s For Me Dallas manager Dana Foley-Taylor, owner Tammy Shaklee and North Texas GLBT Chamber’s Tony Vedda and Ron Watterson help cut the ribbon at the office’s opening Friday. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Dallas gays now have no excuse to be single — at least not for long.

Gay matchmaking service He’s for Me opened its Dallas office on Friday to celebrate Valentine’s Day and introduce the full-time staff to the community. Staff members were joined by members of the GLBT North Texas Chamber of Commerce, of which H4M is a member.

The company started in Austin in the fall of 2012. Within six months, matchmakers were setting up Dallas and Houston couples, owner Tammy Shaklee said.  The popularity made a full-time office in Big D necessary, and she plans to open a Houston location next.

Shaklee said it’s easy to meet people, but it’s hard to know if they’re single, looking for a serious relationship and if you’re compatible with them.

And she met her husband through a dating service in Austin seven years ago.

“I would have never met him without the matchmaking service,” she said.

She then tried to convince a gay friend to use a service to find love. Only he couldn’t find a service that paired gays.

“I started the research, and after three days of trying to find service for him, I found that none existed,” she said. “When I couldn’t find a service for him to hire to help him, I started the process to start it myself.”

H4M also serves gays in Seattle, after a Houston client relocated and wanted Shaklee’s company to help him there. The company now serves gays in Denver, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta.

While Shaklee, a straight ally, saw the need for gays to have a service, she said she’s researching expanding the company for lesbians with a She’s For Me component.

“I really do believe in my heart that it took a straight ally to give the community something that it hadn’t had the opportunity to have before,” she said.

H4M Dallas office is located at at 2911 Turtle Creek Blvd., 3rd Floor. For more info about HFM, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Obama official highlights business equality at N. TX GLBT Chamber dinner


Fred Hochberg, the openly gay president of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., speaks at the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s eight annual Business Excellence Awards dinner on Thursday night. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Fred Hochberg is using his position as president of the Export-Import Bank to advance LGBT equality among business leaders and politicians.

Hochberg said he frequently gets an opportunity to educate anti-equality lawmakers about LGBT issues because they want and need to understand the issues of international business.

Hochberg, the first openly gay president of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and the highest-ranking gay person in the Obama administration, spoke about the importance of educating people on LGBT issues as the keynote speaker at the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s eighth annual Business Excellence Awards Dinner Thursday.

Hochberg’s role includes trying to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the U.S., Hochberg said he has conversations with people who vote against LGBT issues, but strive to understand the issues in a global market. And he uses his position to help gain understanding for the LGBT community.

But even as the highest ranking openly LGBT official, Hochberg said times weren’t always so accepting, mentioning his hesitancy to come out in the 1970s. He joked that he came out slowly instead of young people now who come out on Facebook.

“If you’re not out, I’ll let you it is a hell of a lot better on the other side,” Hochberg said.

While his career was in business, he said he wanted to do more and dedicated himself to helping elect President Bill Clinton and then focused on lifting the ban on gays in the military, which he called “a gift to America.”

Clinton appointed him to head the Small Business Administration in 1998. And President Barack Obama later tapped him to head the Export-Import Bank in 2009, a position for which he was recently nominated again.

He said he was proud to see Obama repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” sign an LGBT-inclusive federal hate crimes bill into law and come out for marriage equality. But he reminded the audience that the work is not done, and when people see successful groups like the GLBT chamber, they think all LGBT people are successful and happy, when there are many who are not.

“They don’t see the discrimination. They don’t see that our brothers and sisters who work at jobs are afraid to come out or our partners that are not covered by insurance,” Hochberg said. “We all have to keep working because I think our work is not done.”

Recipients of the chamber’s business excellence awards were recognized during the dinner. The awards were: The law office of Rob Wiley, Business of the Year; Kristopher Parker of Resource Center Credit Union, Emerging Leader; Jeremy Bradford of the American Cancer Society, Member Service; Cooper Smith Koch of Cooper Smith Agency, Community Service; Nancy Minchillo of Hewlett Packard, Supplier Diversity Champion; Southwest Airlines, Corporate Ally; and Marsha Thomas of TNT Promotions, Chairman’s Award.

More photos below.

—  Dallasvoice

GLBT Chamber announces recipients of 2012 Business Excellence Awards

Rob Wiley P.C.

Rob Wiley

The Law Office of Rob Wiley, Jeremy Bradford, Cooper Smith Koch, Kristopher Parker and Southwest Airlines have been named recipients of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce 2012 Business Excellence Awards.

The awards will be presented during the eighth annual Business Excellence Awards Dinner: A Tapestry of Business Equality on April 25 at eM The Venue.

“The Awards Review Committee had the nearly impossible task of choosing only six honorees from many excellent nomination; they did an outstanding job,” said Ron Watterson, chairman of the North
Texas GLBT Chamber Board of Directors. “Each year the Chamber awards are said to ‘recognize the best of who we are as business and community leaders.’ I believe that this year’s recipients have defined a new standard of excellence in business and service to the community.”

Here’s more on the recipients:

—  David Taffet

Obama administration official Fred Hochberg to speak at Chamber dinner


Fred Hochberg

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce has announced that Export-Import Bank Chairman and President Fred Hochberg will be the keynote speaker at the group’s 8th annual Business Excellence Awards Dinner.

Hochberg is the first openly gay president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank and the highest-ranking gay person in the Obama administration. President Bill Clinton appointed him to head the Small Business Administration in 1998.

When President Barack Obama tapped Hochberg to head the Export-Import Bank, he was serving on the board of the Human Rights Campaign. He served as chair of HRC.

His partner, Tom Healy, is a poet and a director of arts programs at Columbia University. He was appointed by Obama to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and became its chairman.

As head of the Export-Import Bank, Chairman Hochberg plays an essential role in Obama’s plan to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Under his leadership, the the Export-Import Bank set export finance records in 2012 for a fourth year in a row in a number of areas including an increase of 16.5 percent in authorizations for minority- and woman-owned businesses.

“The Business Excellence Awards Dinner recognizes ‘the best of who we are as business and community leaders’” said Ron Watterson, chairman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber Board of Directors. “Chairman Hochberg’s body of work in business, philanthropy and public service embodies the spirit of the Business Excellence Awards and the Chamber.”

—  David Taffet

Dallas Business Journal honors Miller with Minority Business Leader Award

4Felicia MillerBlack lesbian leader Felicia Miller will be honored Thursday by the Dallas Business Journal with a Minority Business Leader Award. Miller is regional director of human resources central region for Tenet Healthcare Corp. overseeing 15 hospitals with 11,000 employees in three states — Texas, Missouri and Tennessee.

The award honors minority business owners and executives who also have leadership roles in their communities.

Miller served on the board of Black Tie Dinner and the Human Rights Campaign’s DFW Steering Committee. Nationally she was on HRC’s Board of Governors on the National Diversity Committee. She worked to help HRC partner with groups such as Lambda Legal, Dallas Southern Pride and Legacy of Success Foundation.

She was a founding member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

Miller joined Tenet in 2010 from Texas Health Resources where she was director of human resources for Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.

Miller was born in San Antonio. She earned bachelor’s degrees in health information and healthcare administration from Texas State University and began her career with the Bexar County hospital system, work in medical records and cancer statistics. She lives in Dallas with her partner, Katrina Franklin.

On Saturday night, Dr. Steven Pounders and Jim O’Reilly will hold a reception in Miller’s honor at their Turtle Creek condo.

—  David Taffet

Gay chamber brings ’13 conference to Omni Dallas 4 years after benefits flap

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has selected Dallas as the city to host its summer 2013 National Business & Leadership Conference — and the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel as the venue.

The 10th anniversary conference will come to Dallas four years after local controversy over Dallas’ city-operated Omni offering domestic partner benefits. Dallas Voice raised questions about the hotel not offering DP benefits in 2009 after the city signed a 15-year operating agreement with the company for the $500 million hotel.

Omni is one of the few major hotel chains that doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits to its employees throughout the U.S. Omni is also owned by Oak Lawn-based TRT Holdings, whose CEO, Robert Rowling, has contributed millions to Karl Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads.

The convention center hotel later announced it would offer DP benefits when it opened last fall after Mayor Tom Leppert convinced the company to do so, even though it hadn’t been considered as part of the operating agreement between the city and the hotel.

Omni is now a member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

“The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce is honored to be hosting the 2013 NGLCC Business & Leadership Conference,” President & CEO of the North Texas GLBT Chamber Tony Vedda said in a release. “Dallas is a city of entrepreneurs and innovation; two words that are synonymous with the NGLCC. It seems only fitting that Dallas should host the NGLCC’s 10th anniversary conference.”

The conference will be from July 30 to Aug. 2. Registration begins Feb. 1.

Read the full press release below.

—  Dallasvoice

GLBT Chamber honors leaders, progress at 7th Anniversary and Business Excellence Awards

Jack Evans and George Harris accept the GLBT Chamber's first Lifetime Achievement Award from Candy Marcum at the award dinner March 28. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

ANNA WAUGH  |  Staff Writer

Award recipients glowed with pride for the activism they inspired and the progress they made at the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce Seventh Anniversary and Business Excellence Awards on Wednesday.

The event at the Adolphus Hotel in Downtown Dallas included the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to longtime gay couple and activists Jack Evans and George Harris. Most recently they created Dallas Way, a group dedicated to recording Dallas’ LGBT history.

Harris commended the chamber for its progress and expressed the honor of the award before Evans spoke briefly about how far the chamber has come from a 1992 meeting with 19 people to a room full of hundreds of people at an awards dinner.

“You guys out there, you guys are the ones that are going to be able to take us to the next 20 years,” Evans said. “Take advantage of this organization not only for yourselves, but for the community and for Dallas.”

Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda highlighted the success of the chamber recently, mentioning the third award the chamber has received from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The Excellence is Community Impact Award was accepted in August and recognized the economic impact of traveling and tourism, he said.

A new chamber app, Gay DFW to go, will soon allow all smartphone users to find chamber-member businesses that are near them with a GPS function, Vedda announced. The app will also allow members to post deals and specials for their businesses.

The website also changed to a new platform for member management to provide the members with best services in technology.

“Both this technology and the mobile app are things that no other GLBT chamber in his country is doing,” Vedda said.

AT&T received the Corporate Ally Award for the company’s acceptance and support of diversity in the work environment and the community.

Travis Gasper was awarded the Emerging Leader Award for his work with AIDS Interfaith Network, Equality Texas and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats. He thanked his friends and family for coming to the event, especially his mother who came from Colorado.

Member Service Award recipient Debbie Hoff addressed the audience’s unspoken question about why a retired straight woman would give more than 100 hours in-office volunteer work when she accepted the award. She said once LGBT rights became an issue of civil rights, she wanted to get more involved and be more informed, giving her time to support the chamber and advancement of LGBT business people.

“I give a little time and hopefully make a little difference,” she said.

The ExtrAA Mile Award was awarded to former Dallas Councilman Chris Luna for his work with raising money for AIDS awareness and time spent on several boards for the LGBT community. While on the council, he helped Dallas police hire gays and lesbians and add an LGBT nondiscrimination protection for city employees.

Business of the Year was given to the UPS Store owned by Jamie Sloan and Rick Adams. The award highlighted the growth of the business, which doubled its gross venue over the last year, as well as the amount of community service the company’s employees partake in regularly.

Dentist Kevin Terrell took home the Business Person of the Year for his personal touch in his work with patients and his current work on the Black Tie Dinner board. He thanked the chamber for the recognition and his family for their support.

The dinner also recognized the chamber’s three scholarship recipients for the Leadership Education and Advocacy Program. Hoping to beat the $7,000 raised last year for the scholarship fund, encouragement at the dinner helped raise $8,500 by the evening’s end.

—  Dallasvoice

GLBT Chamber announces 2012 award winners

Jack Evans, left, and George Harris

George Harris and Jack Evans, the local gay couple whom David Taffet profiled on the occasion of their 50th anniversary last year, will pick up another honor later this month from the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. Evans and Harris will collect the chamber’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award during the group’s seventh annual dinner, set for March 28 at the Adolphus Hotel. Others who’ll be honored at the dinner are listed below. For more information or to register for the dinner, go here.

—  John Wright