The motto of the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is simple but powerful: “advocacy through economics.” On Aug. 20, the organization hosts its 12th annual Community Awards Dinner, which honors leaders, companies and organizations that bridge the two.

“We’re trying to build the gay dollar and build businesses working together and supporting each other, and the dinner definitely raises that awareness and shows the importance of looking out for each other, making sure our voices are heard, and making sure we are putting money back into our community,” says Ted Bruner, AGLCC president.

AGLCC solicits nominees from its members and others in the community in the categories of Business Woman of the Year, Business Man of the Year, Member of the Year, Corporate Ally and Guardian Angel (which goes to a nonprofit).

GA Spotlight: Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

The AGLCC narrows the submissions down to five nominees in each category. Winners are then selected by an eight-member committee made up of board members and other community leaders. The winners will be announced at the Aug. 20 gala dinner, which will be held at the W Midtown Hotel. An after-party follows at the Artmore Hotel.

Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

Community Awards Dinner
Friday, Aug. 20
VIP reception & silent auction: 6 p.m.
General admission: 7 p.m., Dinner & program: 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $130 VIP; $99 general admission
(Tickets can be purchased at the door)
The W Midtown
188 14th St., Atlanta, GA 30361

Over the last decade, the dinner has grown in respect and influence, Bruner says, particularly for large companies that want to be known as supportive of LGBT employees.

“I do think that the larger corporations are definitely looking at this as a much stronger event, and are taking it much more seriously,” says Bruner, who notes that he first joined the AGLCC in part because his employer, Cox Enterprises, backed the chamber.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT group, compiles an annual Corporate Equality Index that rates companies on LGBT issues.

The AGLCC was founded in 1994 as the Greater Atlanta Business Coalition. In 1997, it became the first recognized LGBT chamber of commerce in the U.S.

The organization held its first community awards dinner in 1998, and changed its name to Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in 2003. Its  current activities include frequent Business Builder luncheons, Wow Wednesday celebrations and Fourth Friday networking (although there is no Fourth Friday networking in August due to the dinner).

The chamber now cites 420 members and includes as many as 3,000 employees, Bruner says. Members range from large corporations to small companies and individuals.

“I tell people that whatever you need during your day, we have a member who can help with that,” he says.

Community Awards Nominees

Business Woman of the Year
• Simone Bell, Ga. State Representative (D-58)
• Laura Douglas-Brown, GA Voice
• Cindy Gardner, Life Touch Coaching
• Renee Weese, Minerva Planning Group
• Kelly Spurgeon & Pam Ridgway, Advantage Graphics

Business Man of the Year
• Matt Hennie, Project Q Atlanta
• David Hober, Hober Realty
• Rick Kern, MixIt Marketing
• Gary Raches, Midtown IT
• Thomas Ryan, Carma Productions

Member of the Year
• The Artmore Hotel
• John Benthal, The Mission Motif
• Georgia International Convention Center (GICC)
• Perry Phillips, PerriSparkle Cleaning Services
• Pam Schloemer, Schloemer Bookkeeping

Corporate Ally
• Carma Productions
• The Coca Cola Company
• Cooper Atlanta Transportation
• SunTrust
• Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

Guardian Angel
• For the Kid In All of Us
• Gay Fathers of Atlanta
• Out on Film
• Positive Impact
• Stonewall Bar Association