Local LGBT professionals of AGLCC honor their members, allies, and leaders during annual awards gala
By Matthew Holley
Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce gathers in the spirit of business networking and camaraderie on a regular basis, but when they prepare to do it in fancy dress ready to give out prestigious awards, it only means one thing: the annual AGLCC Community Awards Dinner.
The posh gala, set this year for September 23 at the InterContinental Buckhead, awards excellence in LGBT-led business with trophies for Businessman of the Year, Business Woman of the Year, Corporate Ally, Guardian Angel, Vanguard and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The dinner is also a chance to celebrate the group’s year-round efforts to create economic opportunities through networking, professional development, educational programming and the promotion of member businesses and corporate partners, says Jack Kinley, AGLCC president.
“[The chamber is] where members give back to the community by opening doors to jobs and contract opportunities that might not otherwise be available,” Kinley says. “My mom taught me that my good fortune is meant to be shared with others. That’s what this chamber does, and that’s why I am proud to be its president.”
Affiliated companies and business owners actively work for LGBT inroads through jobs, contracting and political advocacy, and the 2016 awards dinner celebrates that. To keep things lively, it features emcee Tony Kearney, whose infectious personality – albeit in very different clothes – is also known as his drag alter ego, Wild Cherry Sucret.
“Tony gives so much to the Atlanta community at large,” Kinley says. “In a sense, he’s the embodiment of the spirit of the awards and the chamber as a whole. We’re a professional networking group, but we’re a feisty social group too. I think people overlook that quality in the AGLCC. Tony will keep us on our toes. I’ve made a few $5 bets to see what I can get him to do to keep people guessing all night long.”
Kinley delights in revealing a few other details that set this year’s event apart from its predecessors.
“Paul Plate, recently retired executive director of Positive Impact, will be honored with our Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to providing culturally informed mental health and wellness services for individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS,” Kinley says. “Additionally, Selisse Berry, executive director and founder of Out & Equal will be honored with our Vanguard Award in recognition of her work shaping LGBT-inclusive cultures and policies within global corporations.”
More than the other categories and nominees – which this year include William Duffee-Braun, Goliath Atlanta’s co-publisher and David Atlanta’s development director, for Businessman of the Year – the night itself is specifically meant to honor all of the AGLCC members’ hard work. Kinley says each member embodies a spirit of service and desire to give back to AGLCC and other local organizations.
“This is our chance to thank them,” he says.
All in all, the 2016 AGLCC Community Awards Dinner, which also features a pre-reception and after-party, is shaping up to be a must-attend event of the fall season, a momentous moment Kinley is ready to share with all of gay Atlanta.
“I’m excited that a broad cross-section of our membership is up for an award or two which they all so richly deserve,” Kinley says. “I think Atlanta will get a glimpse of what I see every day. … The night is really about the spirit of our members and encouraging them to keep up the good work.”
Want to go?
What: 2016 AGLCC Awards Dinner
When: Friday, September 23, 2016
Where: InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta
3315 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30326