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Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce presents 2018 Business of Pride Awards



2018 Business of Pride Awards. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Originally conceived at the 10th anniversary of what was then known at the Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Business of Pride Awards celebrated leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied business community working to create a more diverse and prosperous Central Texas. The group, now known as the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, continued this tradition this past Saturday evening with PROUD!, its annual Austin LGBT Business Awards Gala, in the ballroom of the newly opened The LINE Austin Hotel in downtown Austin overlooking Lady Bird Lake and the Congress Avenue Bridge.

PROUD! 2018 emcees KVUE anchor Quita Culpepper (left) and Spectrum News Austin meteorologist and ALGBTCC board member Rich Segal (right). Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Emmceed by Spectrum News Austin meteorologist and ALGBTCC board member Rich Segal along with KVUE anchor Quita Culpepper, this year’s event also featured Dr. Sarah Weddington, the attorney who argued Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, as the keynote speaker.

PROUD! gala keynote speaker Dr. Sarah Weddington. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce


Quita Culpepper presenting Todd Hogan the 2018 Business of the Year Award. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Formerly the Business of the Year award, the Business Person of the Year award is now given to the LGBTQ business person that has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to their organization, as well as the ALGBTCC and the LGBTQ and allied business community. Previous winners of the former Business of the Year award include The Staging Guy (2017) and The Great Outdoors (2016).

Winner: Todd Hogan

Your verifiable jack-of-all-trades, Todd Hogan has worked in media marketing in sales in Austin for over a decade and has been a lifelong, active supporter of the nonprofit community working side by side many well known names in Austin including Broadway in Austin, KMFA Classical Music, Zachary Scott Theatre. Todd has been an executive for top media companies including Clear Channel Communications, Infinity Broadcasting, Border Media, and Univision where he has a track record of success in creating unique, results-oriented marketing solutions for multiple radio brands and their clients

Other nominees:

  • Stefanie Collins, Attorney at Law
  • Mia Parton, Aeparmia Engineering / Women’s Alliance for Leadership
  • Carlos Rivero, El Chile Group
  • Rodney Stoutenger, Native Edge Landscaping


2018 Rising Star Award winner Mia Parton. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

The chamber debuted its Rising Star Award, given to an LGBTQ business professional or entrepreneur under 35 who has demonstrated serious business acumen, and an innovative drive that has benefited their organization and the LGBTQ community.

Winner: Mia Parton

An accomplished engineer by trade, Mia Parton was appointed by the Austin City Council to serve on the Water and Wastewater Commission. She has been actively involved in the Central and North Texas areas as an advocate for the LGBTQ Community. In 2010, Mia founded Women’s Alliance for Leadership (WAL), a statewide non-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering LGBTQ women in Texas by offering accessible leadership workshops, awarding scholarships and honoring women leaders in the community. Mia embraces her diverse background as Muslim, Middle-Eastern/Asian, and lesbian.

Other nominees:

  • Cambriae Bates, AIDS Services of Austin
  • Juan Benitez, The Q Austin / ME. I AM JUAN.
  • Nicole Conger, Attorney at Law
  • Tarik Daniels, Author


Stefanie Collins at the 2016 Austin PRIDE Festival. Photo credit: Stefanie Collins, Attorney at Law /

Presented to an LGBTQ or allied business owner and member of the Austin LGBT Chamber, the Member of the Year awardee has shown innovation in their business practices resulting in the advancement of their organization and advances the mission, goals and purpose of the ALGBTCC resulting in a positive impact for the LGBTQ business community. Previous recipients include Art Diva Creative (2017) and The Fowler Law Firm (2016).

Winner: Stefanie Collins

A fervent advocate of the LGBT community as a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer, Stefanie Collins specializes on representing those who are marginalized and stigmatized by the criminal justice system.

Other nominees:

  • Alfred’s Catering
  • Cynergy Data Texas
  • Nicole Conger, Attorney at Law
  • Mia Parton, Aeparmia Engineering / Women’s Alliance for Leadership


Texas Health Action Treasurer Christopher Adams (left), CEO Christopher Hamilton (center) and Kind Clinic Executive Director Joe McAdams (right) accepting the 2018 Ceci Gratias Guardian Award. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Formerly the Nonprofit of the Year award, the Ceci Gratias Guardian Award was renamed to honor the chamber’s first President and CEO — Ceci Gratias — and is given to an individual or non-profit organization that exemplifies Ceci’s spirit in giving tirelessly in order to positively affect the health, happiness and general welfare of those in the Central Texas LGBTQ community. Former winners of the Non-Profit of the Year award include Leap to Success (2017) and Austin PRIDE (2016).

Winner: Texas Health Action

Texas Health Action supports programs and sexual health clinics with an emphasis on HIV prevention. It’s signature program, KIND Clinic is a full service sexual health and wellness clinic dedicated to the treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including access to the HIV prevention treatment, PrEP and PEP, as well as gender care services.

Other nominees:

  • AIDS Services of Austin
  • Austin Baptist Women
  • Out Youth
  • Courtney Santana, singer-songwriter / Survive2Thrive
  • Chuck Smith, Equality Texas


Starbuck’s Pride Alliance Network marching in the Austin PRIDE parade. Photo credit: Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Also debuting this year, the Corporate Ally Award is given to a corporate partner who has shown exemplary support to the Central Texas LGBTQ business community and the chamber.

Winner: Starbucks

Other nominees:

  • Apple
  • RSM
  • Indeed
  • Wells Fargo


2018 Ambassador of the Year award winner Paola Aguillon. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Selected by the veteran members of the Ambassador Committee, since taking the reins Paola Aguillon has shown persistence, accountability and class working to increase the value of the Ambassador Program and thereby the value of the Chamber to its members. Previous recipients of the Ambassador of the Year award include Stephanie Emory (2017) and Becky Clark (2016).


Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Chase Kincannon (left), 2018 Jimmy Flannigan Award winner Shannon Mantrom (center) and Austin City Council member for District 6 Jimmy Flannigan (right). Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Named after its first recipient, former ALGBTCC board chair and current Austin City Council member, the Jimmy Flannigan Leadership Award has been given to a chamber board or staff member that has demonstrated outstanding achievement, unwavering dedication and service to the chamber and Austin’s LGBTQ community. Previous winners of the chamber’s leadership award include former board chair Amy Cook (2017) and the current board chair Chase Kincannon (2016).

Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Chase Kincannon introducing the 2018 Jimmy Flannigan Award winner as the award namesake Austin City Council member and former ALGBTCC board chair Jimmy Flannigan (right) looks on. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

“I met this board member some years ago during a Pride event, and somehow duped her into the idea that board service was both easy and fun,” said Kincannon when introducing the recipient. “During the early days of the Ambassador program, there was always one board member that I could count on to be there to help me cut that damn rainbow ribbon. Her hand was always up when it came time in a board meeting to determine who would show up early, stay late, or spearhead a project (that Pride float was the tits). She revitalized and recreated the Agenda from scratch. She has always been my number one supporter and bulldog when needed to whip volunteers into shape or otherwise make sure things got done.

“But more importantly, this person is the epitomic example of acceptance, kindness, inclusion, and community building. Tonight we give the Jimmy Flannigan award, for the first time, to a straight ally. I hope this award and its recipient continue to inspire our Chamber, our community, and our city to work together and love one another, no matter our differences.

“I’m proud to give the 2018 Jimmy Flannigan Award to my friend, Shannon Mantrom.”


The event also served as a fundraiser for the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Foundation, providing educational grants to deserving LGBTQ residents of the Austin metro area. These scholarships help any LGBTQ person of any age to develop skills and become more successful. This year’s recipients were Jamika Shivers and Joshua Sanchez. Shivers is working towards a degree in social work with the ultimate goal of opening a health clinic for LGBTQ youth, while Sanchez is working towards a Masters in Special Education.

2018 Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Foundation scholarship recipients Jamika Shivers and Joshua Sanchez accepting their educational grants. Photo credit: Jana Birchum / Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Chase is the Founder and Creative Director of, Host and Executive Producer of OutCast Austin, an award-winning LGBT weekly radio program on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. In 2011, he was named the Critics Pick for 'Most Gaybiquitous' in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin. In 2012, CultureMap Austin named him one of Austin's Top LGBT bloggers and he received the AGLCC's Chamber Award for Social Media Diva.

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Rainbow Connections: February 2019

Here’s our rundown of networking events to check out in February. Highlights this month include StartOut’s Celebrating LGBTQ Women, Transgender & Non-Binary Business Leaders and the SXSW LGBTQIA+ Community Meetup.



Networking events took a backseat to political activism in 2018, but its looking like 2019 will be the year that face-to-face networking returns … at least until the 2020 campaigns start to heat up. So, grab those business cards and join us for a little LGBTQ+ networking building next month.

Here’s our rundown of networking events to check out in February. Highlights this month include StartOut’s Celebrating LGBTQ Women, Transgender & Non-Binary Business Leaders and the SXSW LGBTQIA+ Community Meetup.

This is an active post and is updated. It also features a curated list of events. For a complete list of upcoming events, check out our community calendar.

Austin LGBT Chamber February Luncheon

ALGBTCC Rainbow Ribbon Cutting for BizBox Powered by Office Depot
The Rainbow Ribbon cutting for BizBox Powered by Office Depot at the Austin LGBT Chamber May Luncheon. Photo credit: Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce / Facebook

The Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce‘s luncheon will be at the El Chile Café y Cantina on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2019 from 11 AM – 1 PM. In addition to the luncheon, there will also be a Rainbow Ribbon Cutting for new members of the Chamber.

Tickets are $20 for members, $25 for non-members and $30 for walk-up registration, space permitting. Advanced registration is highly recommended.

05feb11:00 AM1:00 PMFeaturedAustin LGBT Chamber February Luncheon11:00 AM - 1:00 PM El Chile Café Y CantinaCategories:NetworkingAges:All Ages

Celebrating LGBTQ Women, Transgender & Non-Binary Business Leaders

On THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2019, StartOut Austin and the eBay Foundation will host an evening featuring several female, transgender, and non-binary founders and business leaders from 6-8:30 PM at Galvanize.

A panel featuring Danielle Skidmore, former Austin City Council candidate and President at Danielle Skidmore Consulting, Kerry Rupp, Partner at True Wealth Ventures, and Angelica Erazo, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator at Oracle. Led by Logan Wick, Founder & CEO of OutBranding Promos, the panel will feature an open, honest discussion about how they navigate being their authentic selves at work while leading companies.

07feb6:00 PM8:30 PMFeaturedCelebrating LGBTQ Women, Transgender & Non-Binary Business Leaders6:00 PM - 8:30 PM GalvanizeCategories:NetworkingAges:All Ages

Pride in Austin Networking Happy Hour

Exterior of the Lucille Patio Lounge
Lucille Patio Lounge on Rainey Street. Photo courtesy Lucille Patio Lounge / Facebook

The last event Pride in Austin Happy Hour was back in October 2017, but it looks like Varela Properties is reviving the networking event. The next one is scheduled for WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2019 from 6:30-11 PM and will be held at Lucille Patio Lounge over on Rainey Street.

13feb6:30 PM11:00 PMPride in Austin Networking Happy Hour6:30 PM - 11:00 PM Lucille Patio LoungeCategories:NetworkingAges:21+

LGBT+ Happy Hour with the ‘Loo

The second Thursday of each month, Rain on 4th hosts its monthly happy hour for Waterloo Counseling Center. Stop by on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2019 from 6-8 PM and find out more about the LGBT+ and HIV/AIDS-specialized counseling services the center offers Austin’s LGBT community. Plus, each month a portion of sales during happy hour is donated back to Waterloo.

14feb6:00 PM8:00 PMLGBT+ Happy Hour with the 'Loo6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Rain on 4thCategories:Fundraiser,LGBTQ+,NetworkingAges:21+

SXSW LGBTQIA+ Community Meetup

Attendees at the SXSW LGBTQIA+ Meetup
Attendees at the SXSW LGBTQIA+ Meetup at DropBox Austin in March 2017. Photo courtesy SXSW / Waldo Photos

The past couple years, SXSW has hosted a pre-festival community meetup for the LGBTQIA+ community here in Austin. It’s an excellent opportunity to find out more about queer content included in this year’s festival. If you haven’t already gotten yours already, the chance to get a discount on a badge. Plus, there is an opportunity to win a badge to this year’s festival.

This year’s event is held in partnership with the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. It will replace the chamber’s monthly networking happy hour normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Join us TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2019 from 6-8 PM at the offices of DropBox Austin. The event is FREE with RSVP.

26feb6:00 PM8:00 PMFeaturedSXSW LGBTQIA+ Community MeetupAustin LBGT Chamber Networking Happy Hour6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Dropbox AustinCategories:NetworkingAges:All Ages

Stay tuned. We’ll be posting the details about our annual Big Gay Kickoff Party in partnership with the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the first week of February.

GOT EVENTS? Submit events online at Please allow 2-3 business days to process your listing. Basic events listings are always FREE.

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Austin LGBT Chamber Raises Fees for Small Business Members



ALGBTCC Rainbow Ribbon Cutting for BizBox Powered by Office Depot
The Rainbow Ribbon cutting for BizBox Powered by Office Depot at the Austin LGBT Chamber May Luncheon. Photo credit: Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce / Facebook

The Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce‘s Board of Directors has voted to approve a restructure of its membership fees for 2019. Starting January 1, 2019, the Enhanced Small Business Member level will be eliminated and the fee for the Basic Small Business Member level will increase from $250 to $365 per year.

When their current membership expires, current Enhanced Small Business Members will have the option to upgrade their membership to the Corporate Silver Partner level for $1,000 or downgrade their membership to the Basic Small Business Member level at $365.

There were no changes to the membership fees for Student, Individual or Non-Profit Organization member levels or the Corporate Partner levels.

Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
2019 Membership Levels

Student – $25
Individual – $75
Basic Small Business – $250 $365
Enhanced Small Business – $450
Corporate Silver Partner – $1,000
Corporate Gold Partner – $2,000
Corporate Platinum Partner – $3,500
Corporate Titanium Partner- $5,000

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Transgender Americans Still Face Workplace Discrimination Despite Some Progress

While US companies have made significant strides in creating workplaces that are more inclusive of transgender individuals, discrimination and employment penalties remain.



This article is republished from The Conversation under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license. Read the original article.

Activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost due to trans prejudice and hatred.

In that spirit of reflection, the day serves as an opportune time to examine how the opportunities and experiences of transgender individuals in the workplace have changed – particularly at a time when some government officials are openly advocating policies that discriminate against them.

I’ve been researching diversity and inclusion in a variety of settings including sports and work for nearly two decades. The good news is that my work and that of my peers shows transgender individuals have made significant strides in the workplace. The bad news is that many hurdles remain to equal opportunity and an end to discrimination.


Various indicators and signs point to meaningful improvements in the access, treatment and opportunities for transgender employees.

One such indicator is the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, an annual assessment of policies and benefits for LGBT individuals in Fortune 500 companies. In 2002, only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies had nondiscrimination polices based on gender identity. That figure was 83 percent in the most recent report, which came out in 2018.

Human Rights Campaign 2016 Corporate Equality Index Best Places to Work Reception / photo credit: Ted Eytan / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The report also shows that most Fortune 500 companies now include transgender-inclusive medical benefits. In 2002, no companies offered such provisions.

Another measure of how much things have changed is in the willingness of corporate giants and their CEOs to oppose policies that discriminate against trandsgender individuals.

A recent example is when President Donald Trump said he would seek to legally define gender as immutably male or female. Coca-Cola, Apple, JP Morgan Chase and dozens of other major U.S. companies swiftly signaled their opposition.

Another is the backlash that has followed legislative efforts to limit the rights of transgender individuals to use pubic restrooms. North Carolina, for example, was estimated to lose US$3.76 billion over a dozen years after companies nixed plans to build facilities in the state or canceled concerts because of the “bathroom bill” lawmakers passed. They later repealed it.

My own research with a colleague shows why corporate America is taking a stand: Most consumers value inclusiveness. Participants in a study we conducted in 2014 interpreted LGBT-inclusive statements by organizations as a signal that the company valued all forms of diversity. As a result, the consumers’ attraction to the organization increased.


Despite the progress, hurdles still exist, impeding full trans inclusion in the workplace.

A study I conducted with another colleague in 2017, for example, showed that, although attitudes toward transgender individuals have improved over time, they still lag behind perceptions toward lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.

Legal scholars from UCLA’s Williams Institute have shown that transgender people earn less and are more likely to be unemployed than their cisgender peers – whose gender corresponds to their birth sex. In fact, in 2011, one in seven transgender individuals earned $10,000 or less a year, while the unemployment rate for trans people of color was nearly four times the national rate.

For those who are employed, they routinely face discrimination. In another study out of the Williams Institute, state law and policy director Christy Mallory and colleagues found that more than one in four reported being fired, passed over for promotion or not being hired in the past year because of their gender identity and expression.

Others are aware of the mistreatment. In a survey of Texans – a state where employment discrimination against transgender individuals is legal – 79 percent of the respondents agreed that LGBT individuals face workplace discrimination.

Texans are not alone. According to the Movement Advancement Project, an organization whose mission is to promote equality for all, 48 percent of LGBT individuals live in states lacking employment protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.


The evidence suggests transgender individuals have made progress in the workplace, but they still face considerable barriers. What, then, can employers do to create more inclusive environments?

Legal protections are key. Organizational psychologists Laura Barron and Michelle Hebl have shown that the presence of anti-discrimination ordinances and laws decrease bias in employment decision making. Absent federal protections, states and cities can ensure all people have employment protections, irrespective of their gender identity and expression.

Organizational leaders also make a difference. My research shows that leader advocacy and role modeling are critical when creating and sustaining an inclusion culture. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, has a history of strongly advocating for LGBT rights. It is little wonder, then, that Apple is routinely listed among the most LGBT-friendly companies.

The Apple contingent in the 2014 Austin Pride Parade / photo credit: Chase Martin / therepubliq

Finally, co-workers play an important role, especially when they serve as allies. These are persons who advocate for transgender equality in the workplace and try to create welcoming, inclusive spaces. Allies seek to create social change, leading the charge at times and supporting their transgender colleagues in other instances.

Transgender inclusion helps all involved. Employee engagement and performance improves, as does their psychological and physical health. Diverse and inclusive organizations outperform their peers on objective measures of success, such as stock market performance.

Thus, the path forward – one that clears the hurdles in place and creates an inclusive environment – is one that can benefit everyone.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US. A complete list of partners and funders can be viewed here.

The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit publisher of commentary and analysis, authored by academics and edited by journalists for the general public.

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may 2019

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19may12:00 PM9:00 PMSunday Funday Beer Bust12:00 PM - 9:00 PM Oilcan Harry'sAges:21+

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19may4:30 PM8:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em4:30 PM - 8:00 PM Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

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19may7:00 PM10:00 PMDirty Bird Drag Queen BingoHost by Lady Grackle Birdbreath7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Highland LoungeCategories:DragAges:21+

19may8:00 PM10:00 PMSevere Weather WarningPresented by Theatre en Bloc8:00 PM - 10:00 PM Rollins Theatre at The Long CenterCategories:TheatreAges:All Ages

19may(may 19)9:00 PM20(may 20)2:00 AM#TheWrapUp ft. DJ Dallas Downs9:00 PM - 2:00 AM (20) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

19may(may 19)9:30 PM20(may 20)2:00 AMPlanet Fabulous KaraokeHosted by Murrah Noble9:30 PM - 2:00 AM (20) The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

19may(may 19)10:00 PM20(may 20)2:00 AMSuper Sunday Diva Show10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (20) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:DragAges:18+

19may(may 19)10:00 PM20(may 20)2:00 AMLatin Night ft. DJ PM10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (20) BT2 AustinCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

19may(may 19)10:00 PM20(may 20)2:00 AMLate Night KaraokeHosted by Colleen DeForrest10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (20) Highland LoungeCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

19may(may 19)10:00 PM20(may 20)2:00 AMKreamHosted by Cupcake10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (20) Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

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20may(may 20)10:00 PM21(may 21)2:00 AMMartinis & KaraokeHosted by Danny Pintauro10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (21) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

21may6:00 PM7:00 PMBeginner Yoga with Kirk6:00 PM - 7:00 PM TransformCategories:FitnessAges:All Ages

21may7:00 PM10:00 PMOpen Mic NightHosted by Sheena Simmons7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+