When Christianna Flynn and I first began talking about forming some sort of LGBT business group back in August of 2006, little did we know that we were setting the ground work for what would become Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR"), the only affiliate of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce ("NGLCC") in Virginia.
Through HRBOR I have secured a number of clients, but more importantly, I have made a large number of wonderful friends and replaced the social circle I lost when I came out after years spent in the closet. Today HRBOR will receive the NGLCC "Rising Star Award" at a gathering in Washington, D.C., at which the U.S. Secretary of Commerce will be in attendance. HRBOR's current president and I drove up to receive the award on HRBOR's behalf and to attend the national gathering's formal dinner. Through the graciousness of Dan Massey and Alison Gardner I had a place to stay the night so that my attendance is more affordable. I will always treasure my other founding board members pictured after the jump. They are amazing individuals.
For those coming out later in life, I continue to urge you to get involved in LGBT organizations in your area and, if none exists, consider founding one. It's a lot of work, but the rewards are amazing. And, if we could create an organization like HRBOR in this anti-gay area, it can be done anywhere. Here's the text of the letter from the NGLCC on HRBOR's award:
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce© (NGLCC) proudly announced Hampton Roads Business OutReach (HRBOR) of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia as the winner of its 2010 Rising Star Chamber of the Year Award. Each year the NLGCC recognizes one outstanding local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) chamber of commerce or business organization for its noticeable growth, enthusiasm, and vision on behalf of its members and community. Bestowed at the Chamber Awards Breakfast on Friday, November 18, the honor will be presented in front of LGBT business owners, corporate decision-makers, and fellow chamber leaders who have gathered for NGLCC's 2010 National Business & Leadership Conference: Out for Business!, being held at the Capital Hilton November 18-20 in Washington, D.C.
HRBOR, or the Hampton Roads Business OutReach, is an alliance of LGBT owned and supportive businesses and professionals in the Hampton Roads area that includes Norfolk, VA. Founded with the guidance of the NGLCC in 2007, HRBOR is the only NGLCC Affiliate Chamber in the Commonwealth of Virginia. By promoting an environment in which diversity can flourish, HRBOR is committed to the economic growth and prosperity of its member businesses and the community. This commitment is evident through the robust programming of monthly networking events, educational seminars, and social occasions, and an active and dedicated board of directors, led by businesswoman Nicole Carry. HRBOR has grown and succeeded at a logarithmic pace in its brief history. Inception to launch, including such extensive projects as establishing a mission statement, by-laws, and membership structure, occurred in just under six months. In their first year alone, their membership surpassed 100 members.
"For a young chamber to experience this kind of growth in only a few years is nothing short of inspirational to the chamber movement," remarks NGLCC's Co-Founder & President Justin G. Nelson. "Today, with a new website and continual outreach into the broader community, HRBOR stands as a shining example of commitment to diversity, economic equality and opportunity for its members, and the growing voice of the LGBT community in this conservative region of the United States."
To learn more about the NGLCC or the National Business & Leadership Conference, please visit www.nglcc.org. To learn more about HRBOR, please visit www.hrbor.org.