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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, former 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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Mighty Swell Takes on White Claw

Austin-based Mighty Swell is aiming to become a household name and the number three hard seltzer in the U.S. by 2021.



White Claw fever has taken over the country, and as a result, it has become a victim of its own success with the popular hard seltzer brand confirming a nationwide shortage. Luckily, if you’re looking for an alternative to avoid the shortage or maybe you’d prefer to support a local business, look no further than your own backyard. Austin-based Mighty Swell serves up its own line of low calorie, low sugar hard seltzers, all of which are inspired by Austin’s vibe — the perfect balance between living an active lifestyle and relaxing in the sun.

“Mighty Swell Spiked Spritzers were born of a desire to create a premium tasting, ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage that fits consumers active lifestyles and thirst for flavor,” said John Beal, General Manager for Mighty Swell Spritzer Co. “The newest addition to our lineup embodies the spirit of the brand by offering a deliciously light effervescent taste with 5 percent ABV. We’re aiming to become a household name and the number three hard seltzer in the U.S. by 2021.”

Whether drank right out of the can or served over ice or as a base for your favorite signature cocktail, each 12-ounce can contains 5 percent ABV (cold-brewed sugar alcohol), 110 calories and 4 grams of sugar. Mighty Swell offers individual flavors sold in 6-packs and a variety 12-pack that features all four flavors. Mighty Swell added Cherry Lime to its portfolio of flavors this summer, joining Watermelon Mint, Grapefruit and Peach.

  • Cherry Lime: Juicy red cherries with a hint of zesty lime. Instantly refreshing! Flavor notes: slightly sweet cherry, fresh squeezed lime, brightly effervescent
  • Grapefruit: Ruby red grapefruit with citrus zip and a crisp, fruity finish. Flavor notes: balance of sweet and tart, well-rounded, never bitter, orange-like juiciness
  • Peach: Fruit forward with light citrus and orange blossom. Flavor notes: fresh peach jam, hints of citrus, slightly floral
  • Watermelon Mint: Sweet, refreshing watermelon meets the coolness of mint. Flavor notes: crisp, bright mint, fruity juicy melon, balanced sweetness

All Mighty Swell products are gluten-free, use vegan-friendly ingredients and are proudly made in the USA. They utilize a clean ingredient deck and therefore do not contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, added sugars, sodium benzoate or food dyes.

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Report: Workplace Diversity Improving, Pay Gap Continues Across Industries

Namely data shows that mid-market technology companies still struggle with pay equity across gender and ethnicity lines



Workforce diversity has evolved over the past decade from being simply a buzzword to a progressive corporate pursuit. Today, companies are investing in diversity with entire teams and millions budgeted each year dedicated exclusively to building diversity and inclusion with diversity and pay equity metrics now standing alongside traditional performance indicators, such as revenues and budgets, in the boardroom.

While large-sized companies publicly publish their own diversity metrics annually to position themselves as leaders in “D&I” to attract new hires in a hyper-competitive job market, the effectiveness of these investments in mid-sized companies is unclear. While these modestly-sized businesses make up the bulk of the U.S. economy, employing nearly 50 million people, few studies have focused on this segment of the market.

A new report from Namely, a leading HR platform for mid-sized companies, sheds light on whether these investments are hitting the mark when it comes to diversity and inclusion across genders and ethnicities in mid-market workplaces. This year’s Workplace Diversity Report shows where mid-sized businesses are succeeding with diversity and equality, it also uncovers opportunities for improvement.

Key Findings

  • Ten percent of companies now offer employees gender identity options beyond “male” or “female”. Those companies now recognize over 25 unique gender identities; up from five terms from last year’s report.
  • The percentage of non-binary managers, 22 percent, does not vary significantly from the overall employee population (19 percent), suggesting there is not a career opportunity gap for workers who identify as non-binary.
  • White men make up 63 percent of all managers. Fewer women and non-majority employees occupy positions of authority, and are still subject to lower compensation than their male or majority peers.
  • Companies with the smallest pay gaps have more equal representation of women in the top salary tier. Nonprofit companies were the most equitable, while technology and healthcare companies were the least.
  • While men continue to make up the majority of employees in six out of the ten industries examined in the study, the most gender equal industries were financial services, media, professional services, real estate, and retail.
  • The report found a small improvement in workforce diversity at companies with c-level HR or diversity roles, however less than five percent of the most diverse companies had a diversity or c-level HR leader in place – showing that one person is not enough to ensure diversity at a company.

“On the ground, people leaders are making progress on closing the pay gap and moving in the right direction for both women and minorities. Everyone from c-level executives to entry-level employees realize we need to diversify our companies,” said Lorna Hagen, chief people officer, Namely. “HR teams now have more data than ever before to help make that a priority and a reality, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

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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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october 2019

15oct6:00 PM8:00 PMTuesday Night Run6:00 PM - 8:00 PM The Rock at Town LakeCategories:RunningAges:All Ages

15oct6:00 PM10:00 PMFeatured2020 Democratic Presidential Debates Watch PartyHosted by therepubliq6:00 PM - 10:00 PM Oilcan Harry'sCategories:PoliticsAges:21+

15oct6:45 PM10:30 PMVarsity Gay League Austin Kickball Fall 2019 Season6:45 PM - 10:30 PM Krieg Softball ComplexCategories:KickballAges:21+

15oct7:00 PM9:00 PMTuesday Social TennisHosted by Austin Tennis Club7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Austin Tennis CenterCategories:TennisAges:All Ages

15oct7:30 PM9:30 PMVolleyball Austin Open Play7:30 PM - 9:30 PM Austin Sports CenterCategories:VolleyballAges:All Ages

15oct8:00 PM11:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by Wild West Casino Games8:00 PM - 11:00 PM The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

15oct8:00 PM10:00 PMDragula Season 3 Viewing Party8:00 PM - 10:00 PM Elysium AustinCategories:DragAges:18+

15oct8:00 PM9:15 PMAustin Naked YogaTaught by Daryn8:00 PM - 9:15 PM ToddPilates & Barre North AustinCategories:FitnessAges:18+

15oct(oct 15)8:30 PM16(oct 16)1:30 AMDrag Me To Dozen Residency w King Woot & The Holy Nah Nah & more8:30 PM - 1:30 AM (16) Dozen StreetCategories:Drag,MusicAges:21+

15oct8:30 PM10:30 PMAustin Pride Bowling League8:30 PM - 10:30 PM Dart BowlCategories:BowlingAges:All Ages

15oct(oct 15)9:00 PM16(oct 16)12:00 AMDrag Class: Semester 8Hosted by Sabel Scities9:00 PM - 12:00 AM (16) Rain on 4thCategories:DragAges:18+

15oct(oct 15)9:00 PM16(oct 16)12:00 AMMagical Musical Showtune Sing-AlongHosted by Brian Hall9:00 PM - 12:00 AM (16) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:DragAges:21+

15oct(oct 15)10:00 PM16(oct 16)2:00 AMTuezGayzFeaturing theGlitoris10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (16) Barbarella AustinCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

15oct(oct 15)10:00 PM16(oct 16)2:00 AMKiki & KaraokeHosted by Nadine Hughes & Adam Stone10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (16) Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

16oct6:00 PM8:00 PMSteak Night6:00 PM - 8:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:Food,NightlifeAges:21+

16oct7:00 PM10:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Detour Neighborhood Bar DomainCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

16oct7:00 PM10:00 PMQueer Ride7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Texas State CapitolCategories:CyclingAges:All Ages

16oct8:00 PM10:00 PMCupcake's Bar TriviaHosted by Cupcake8:00 PM - 10:00 PM Trudy's Tex-Mex Texas StarCategories:DragAges:All Ages

16oct8:00 PM9:30 PMOver The Rainbow Comedy8:00 PM - 9:30 PM Alamo Drafthouse MuellerCategories:ComedyAges:All Ages

16oct(oct 16)9:00 PM17(oct 17)2:00 AMWerqHosted by Diamond Dior & Scarlett Kiss 9:00 PM - 2:00 AM (17) Sellers UndergroundCategories:DragAges:21+