The Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce will host a June business summit to teach LGBT-owned businesses how to gain access to Super Bowl contracts, and how to become certified.

Q&A with new ATL gay chamber president Dan Dunlop

Daniel Dunlop takes over as the president of the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce this month, and he couldn’t be more excited.
“This is a growing and vibrant community that is very focused on the economic growth of our LGBT and business members, and it is an organization that is on just a tremendous surge of success right now,” he told Georgia Voice. “Atlanta is a great place to do business and we want to do our best to capture a piece of that as well. I am so privileged to be president at this moment in our history.”

Dunlop is also the president of Dunlop Productions, a meeting, conference and event production company. He and his partner moved to Atlanta from Cincinnati, Ohio, about four years ago and live in Midtown, where they enjoy perusing the city’s restaurants and Piedmont Park with their dog, Maker’s Mark. Prior to being this year’s vice president, Dunlop served as the chair of special events for AGLCC.

He recently sat down with Georgia Voice to talk about his plans for the upcoming year.

How did you get involved with the AGLCC?

“I was involved with the Metro Chamber for about a year or so, and I just realized that I felt like I could have more of an impact with the AGLCC in terms of really offering my time and leadership and involvement, and seeing more of a need, I guess.

I came through a national certification to the NGLCC, and through that process I discovered that it would be far more advantageous to be involved with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.”

What made you decide to go into leadership with the organization?

“I’ve always had a desire to serve and to be counted on, and so I think rather than just consumer services I wanted to offer whatever assistance and volunteer my time. … I can do that a number of ways, but when I saw the AGLCC and knew I could offer assistance in some of the event programming, that’s how I chose to get involved. I guess I just have to say, things I really believe in, I get behind. And I get behind not only with my investment resources, but also with my time. This now becomes a big part of my landscape for work right now. Being on the leadership team for this organization does require a bit of time, so you know it going into it, but I’m ready and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this chapter.”

What are some of your goals for your year as president?

“A couple things I’ve been thinking through, and it’s not crystallized, but I want us to further explore our mission. The AGLCC exists to promote the economic growth and advancement of our LGBT and allied business members, our non-profit organizational members as well as our corporate partners. We have five pillars that embody that mission. … We’ll be looking to strengthen those, maybe offer more chapters of the business-builder luncheon that meets. I’m thinking that we’ll probably increase those five to seven in the coming year to be diverse to our membership and where they do work and do business.

Well be looking at getting our own YouTube broadcast channel and populating that with relevant training. We’ll be doing some short programming and lots of testimonials for corporate partners to talk about how to engage with companies and how to navigate the procurement process. My president’s letter each month will also be a video letter as well as a written letter.

Our goal is to make Atlanta a friendly destination and market outside of the city to boost our reputation as a global area for business. We’re hoping to really kind of lift that mantra of LGBT tourism in the coming year as well.”

Another one of the AGLCC’s pillars is certification. What’s involved in getting certified as a LGBT-owned business?

“We’re the only Atlanta-based organization that can certify businesses in a recognized way. Just because you’re a gay-owned business doesn’t mean you’re qualified, so you have to be certified.

Especially in light of the Super Bowl coming here in 2018, the latter half of 2017 and ’18 will be about contracting. We’re really about positioning our businesses to become certified so they can get a piece of the Super Bowl pie.

The process itself is really led by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in DC. It’s modeled after the women-owned business models in terms of how you go through the process. It’s a bit of a lengthy process. They do a deep-dive into your business and your business model and they really kind of get into the nuts and bolts of your business to really understand it and document that you are an actual business, that you’re not a front. It gives you a certification from the National Chamber, that when Coke or Cox Communications are looking to [increase] their quote of diverse spend, they really need a business that is certified as that diverse supplier. … Because we’re a certified company they get credit [on the Equality Index].”

How will you and the leadership team address the organization’s finances following the embezzlement incident?

“Obviously we were blindsided by all this, but what we’ve been doing ever since that occurred, is we are following a new set of protocols for how our finances are being handled, in terms of a protocol for a number of people who are part of the actual processes. Not just a person writing checks and reconciling bank statements, but there’s a team overseeing that process. Those practices and standards are being instituted and our finance committee meets on a weekly basis with almost an auditor-type person who is good at setting up those standards and policies.”