Weekly Wrap-Up: February 15, 2019

HISTORIC, ADVOCACY, DIVERSITY. THANKS. Those are the words for the week.Read this update and see what you helped make happen. 


Mayor Briley Signs Historic EO for LGBT-Owned Businesses-



Mayor David Briley signed a historic executive order for LGBT-owned businesses doing business with Metro on Monday, Feb. 11, at 10 a.m. By signing the executive order, Mayor Briley recognizes the significant contributions that LGBT-owned businesses make in Nashville and provides them with more opportunities to compete and succeed.


Mayor Briley was joined in making remarks by Joe Woolley, CEO, Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Chance Mitchell, Co-Founder and CEO, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), Klayton Fennell, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Comcast and Jack Davis, Founder, Good Neighbors Festival, and Shovann Backus, Founder, The Stiletto Chef. 


Our News Release includes all the press coverage this historic signing received! You can read statements from the Mayor, Councilmembers, myself, and our former CEO Lisa Howe. There are pictures from the event and video of it as well. Everything can be found here


I hope you will read my full statement to appreciate how many people have worked on this and how we got here. I want to put a few things directly into this email for all of you to read, I got off script at the event and want to make sure they are said, especially to you our member - 

I want to start off by thanking the members of the Nashville LGBT Chamber. Without members, there would be no Chamber. All of our members will benefit from this executive order. Our corporate members that already have these policies, will benefit from having Metro following their lead, creating an even more fair and inclusive place to do business. Thanks to our corporate members Comcast and Ingersol Rand for being here today to speak and your support. 

Our corporate members that do not yet have this policy, will have our city set the example and help bring them along to match. 

And our small business and individual members will benefit from a more welcoming and fairer city and of course, our LGBT business owners will benefit from having Metro clearly wanting to and ready to do business with them. Our incredible members that are here and going to speak to you about what this means for them! Jack Davis with Good Neighbor Festivals and Shovann Staton-Backus with The Stiletto Chef.

I want to thank our board of directors, lead by our President Ron Snitker. The board volunteer countless hours and they know that the main thing a Chamber does is advocate for its members. We were once strictly a networking organization and there is nothing wrong with that, but by advocating we have truly served our members and the LGBT community by helping them move towards full equity in society. We have continued advocating on this issue and we are all so excited to see it come to fruition.

We would not be here without the work of our previous CEO Lisa Howe and I want to thank her. She and I met with the Dean Administration 6 years ago for the first time on this topic. A lot of work and education has happened from there to here. Without her, her non-stop and tireless work, this day would have been far off. Thank you, Lisa. You are not physically in the room but we know you are here.

There was a lot of press across the country on this event, with Nashville being the first city in the South to make this move. Our friends in Atlanta were shocked and are moving quickly to follow, surprised that they are not leading the way in LGBT rights. We will be helping them and other LGBT Chambers across the country reach this goal. 


If you are an LGBT business owner, make sure you have reached out to me so I know you want to get certified. We have a class of 15 ready to go through certification. We are happy to add more. We will kick this off in March at an event we are planning at the Entrepreneur Center. 


Thank you to so many others, especially in the Mayor's office. And as I said at Monday's event, the person that deserves the most thanks is Mayor David Briley for making this happen. 



Thursday was all about advocacy with a morning meeting at the Metro Procurement Standards Board. This was the actual action that the executive order instructed to take place with this board voting to track LGBT Certified businesses and making the changes to do that. The new Metro website that will allow this will go live July 5th. We testified about the certification process and the importance of having these numbers collected. You have to be counted to be tracked and have data, you have to have data to show that there may be a disparity, then you can advocate for change for that disparity. 


That meeting was followed up with a Tennessee Thrives meeting discussing the numerous bills that coalition of businesses will be pushing back on. There are a lot. PLEASE make sure you have signed up with Tennessee Thrives


Legislative Update-

The Chamber's own Advocacy committee met later to review state legislation of interest to our members this year.  Among the many bills that would negatively impact LGBT businesses and individuals are- 

efforts to allow child placement agencies to discriminate against LGBT people in adoptions or foster care, 

a bill to restrict local government's ability to penalize businesses who discriminate, 

a bill to allow indecent exposure charges against anyone of the opposite birth sex using a restroom or locker room, 

and a bill to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.  


Your Chamber will be working with our advocacy partners, Tennessee Thrives, TEP, ACLU and others to fight these bills. We will have a full bill report for you and track these week to week. Stay engaged and be ready to take action when needed. 

We also encourage our members to attend the Tennessee Equality Project's Equality Day on the Hill on Tuesday, March 5th, to make your voice heard.  


Small and Diverse Business Forum-



We attended the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small and Diverse Business Forum today. Representatives from Nashville Predators, Tennessee Titans, Nashville Sounds, First Tennessee Bank, Music City Center, MNAA, Omni Nashville Hotel, and DoubleTree by Hilton led programs on how to engage in local supplier diversity. Mayor David Briley and his staff spoke about diversity and inclusion within Metro. Watch this video to hear him mention his executive order signing on Monday. 


Brewing Up Business-



Our February Brewing Up Business will be on the 28th! You do not want to miss this fun event! We will be networking and playing in their Space Chase exhibit. This will be a perfect chance to get out of the house during winter. Shovann Backus of the Stiletto Chef will be catering! Shovann spoke at the Mayor’s event on Monday. 

We will also hear from the Adventure Science Center on what they are working on and we will discuss the executive order on LGBT Certification and the Business Awards! Find out more info and register here

Excellence in Business Awards-



The Nashville LGBT Chamber is proud to invite you to its annual business awards lunch event on Friday, May 3, 2019, 11 am - 1 pm, at one of our newest members, the beautiful JW Marriott Nashville. 


You can purchase tickets and become a sponsor now! 


Member tickets are $65. For this year’s Excellence in Business Awards, we will be offering several sponsorship opportunities. Not only will you be sponsoring the event itself, but each award category will have a direct sponsor. There are only 7 sponsor opportunities and half of these are already sold. Move fast if you are interested! 


For an added value over regular ticket purchases, you may also choose to host half and whole tables. All of these opportunities are clearly outlined in our Excellence in Business Awards Prospectus


We need your help! We have to give awards to somebody and you get to tell us who is deserving. We are now collecting nominations for the awards. Please use this form to nominate a company, small business, friend, co-worker, boss, spouse, peer, mentor, mentee, or yourself for an award from the LGBT Chamber. We will accept nominations through March 15th. 


We will announce all finalists at our Brewing Up Business program on March 21st. Please send as many deserving nominees as you want in the following categories:

  • Corporate Diversity

  • Small Business Diversity

  • Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Ally Award

  • Business Leader of the Year

  • Community Service Award

  • Leadership in the Arts

You do not want to miss this event! Reach out to Lauren Bland if you have questions.


A Little Vacation-

I am taking some time off next week. I will have little access to emails. Lauren will be holding everything down here in the office so please reach out to her if you need anything and I will get back to you as soon as I can. 


As we stated for the 20 year anniversary, “We are Just Getting Started.” That is so true, there is much more work to be done. Thank you all for your support of the Chamber. YOU should all feel great pride in making history this week, it could not have happened without you.

Forward together, 



Joe Woolley 


Nashville LGBT Chamber

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