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BUSINESS June/July 2014

+ LGBTBE Spotlight

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Frances A. Toler,


– Masters of Science in Financial Services – Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy Toler financial group is a certified LgBT Business Enterprise, certified by the ngLcc (national gay and Lesbian chamber of commerce) Toler financial group is not owned or operated by nYLYfE Securities LLc or its affiliates

6901 Rockledge Drive, Suite 800 Bethesda, MD 20817 Office: 301-214-6120 Fax: 202-379-1703

frances Toler MSfS, cAp® , registered representative offering securities through nYLifE Securities LLc, Member finrA/Sipc, a Licensed insurance Agency, 301-214-6600. in this regard, this communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of cA, co, Dc, fL, MD, nM, nY, pA, uT, VA, and WA. no offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside the specific states referenced. frances Toler MSfS, cAp® is also separately registered as an investment adviser representative under Eagle Strategies LLc, a registered investment Adviser, offering advisory services in the states of cA, co, Dc, fL, MD, nM, nY, pA, uT & VA. As such, these services are strictly intended for individuals residing in the states indicated. frances Toler, MSfS, cAp® is an agent licensed to sell insurance through new York Life insurance company in the states of MD, Dc, VA, fL, pA, nM & uT. no insurance business may be conducted outside these states referenced.

Letter from the PUBLISHER

This is a very special issue for us. Not only is it the first time UNITE Business will exhibit at the NGLCC National Business and Leadership Conference, but it is also the first time we feature eight certified LGBTBEs in the same issue. We are so proud of the extraordinary work you have done to achieve certification and strengthen the LGBT business community. With your hard work and dedication, we will continue our progress down the road to full equality. I can also say with great pride that UNITE is now being distributed to 21 LGBT chambers of commerce across the country. We launched the magazine delivering to just eight but have been able to expand our distribution and increase the amount of readers with each issue due to the overwhelming demand for the publication. Our goal by the end of 2014 is to distribute to 30 chambers. It may sound a bit ambitious, but I am confident we can achieve our goal together. One of my mentors growing up used to say, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” and this publication was a dream of mine. I wanted to create a magazine that the LGBT business community could be proud of and keep in their offices or on their coffee tables without being ashamed of the risqué content or advertisements that are common with many LGBT publications. Despite our initial success, UNITE still has a long way to go. We need your support and contributions to really bring us to the next level. We want to be more than just a magazine; we want to be your business partner. We highly encourage your feedback, ideas, and most importantly, your help promoting the publication to members of our community who may not have had the opportunity to see UNITE. Thank you for your support, and here’s to a successful conference! —Joey



At 21 years old, Nashville native Jesse Walker has taken Music City by storm since the 2009 launch of Country Music Treehouse. This multimedia site is home to video interviews with country stars, including Reba and Taylor Swift.

Dan Groover is an accountant and business consultant living in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been in business for himself since 2004 serving individuals, small businesses, and corporations throughout Middle Tennessee. Groover is currently beginning a new phase of his life in the realm of family and civil mediation.

Called the “Simon Cowell of startups,� Michael Burcham, PhD, is the founder and chief executive officer of The Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where he helps his clients with the best business ideas achieve their goals and coaches others to further develop their aims.

Estella Pan has worked in the music industry since 2001. In addition to writing for UNITE Magazine, she offers social media consulting and virtual personal assistant services to clients through her company, Rock Stellar Relations.

Jonathan D. Lovitz is an advocate, spokesman, fundraiser, and communications consultant for countless LGBT and business causes. He currently serves as director of communications for StartOut, the national organization dedicated to LGBT entrepreneurs, and on the boards and councils of LGBTQ groups worldwide.

After a diverse and successful 31 year career at IBM, Stan C. Kimer founded Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, where he offers innovative services in career development and diversity management. Total Engagement Consulting is a certified LGBT Business Enterprise by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Joey Amato is the founder and publisher of UNITE Magazine. Joey is also the vice-president of emerging media for Relevant Communications, a public relations company based in Boca Raton, Florida, that specializes in promoting art exhibits for celebrity artists across the country.

A veteran of working with policymakers at all levels of government, Jim Schmidt has the experience to be a strong voice for any interest on the Hill. Jim began his career in state government during his college years as an intern of the staff of Tennessee State Senator Jim Kyle. In September 2011, he started his own firm, Schmidt Government Solutions LLC.

Brian Hooper, MDiv, PsyD, is a licensed pastoral psychotherapist with a private practice in the Belle Meade area of Nashville. He invites you to visit his website

Sebastian Fortino is a raconteur, reader, writer, wit, web content manager, and LGBT journalist, who currently resides in Fort Lauderdale. He has contributed to numerous LGBT publications including MetroSource, City Xtra Magazine, and South Florida Gay News.

Santiago MelliHuber is the associate editor of UNITE Magazine and a freelance reporter for the Washington Blade. He has recently worked in the news gathering department at CNN, where he honed his skills at the news desk, on the field, and on Capitol Hill researching and reporting the news.

Author of Blissful Organization: A Guide to Simple Living, Patricia Diesel is the founder and chief executive officer of Keep It Simple Now, a professional organizing and life coaching company, where she helps people restore tranquility and sense to their lives by encouraging release, order, and constructive engagement.


proud producers of

A History of Equality

In Everything We Do

table of contents

Joey Amato Managing Editor Ben Rock Creative Director Blake Kniffin Publisher

Santiago Melli-Huber Business Editor Michael Burcham, PhD contributing Editor Triskal DeHaven associate editor

Contributing Writers



Paul Collanton, Patricia Diesel, Victoria Fulkerson, Jenn Grace, Dan Groover, Stan Kimer, Jonathan Lovitz, Estella Pan, Jim Schmidt, Matt Skallerud, Scott Span, Jesse Walker Sales manager national advertising

Joey Amato (407) 496-8751 Rivendell Media (908) 232-2021 Contact

Unite Magazine (615) 852-6660


Dolly Parton images appear courtesy of Dolly Records

N now Community Marketing & Insights has released a breakthrough report on the attitudes and consumer behavior of over 2,000 African American/black LGBT residents of the United States. The study, produced in partnership with the Center for Black Equity, focused on participants who interact with media, events, and organizations representing the African-American/black LGBT community, especially Black Pride festivals. Earl Fowlkes Jr., president of the Center for Black Equity, presented the report during the 7th Annual LGBT Marketing Conference at the New York Times Conference Center. “This survey is a major breakthrough for the African-American/black LGBT consumer market. We finally have data that provides insight on the African-American/black LGBT purchasing power in the United States,” said Fowlkes. The report contains a wealth of key findings for African-American LGBTs living in the United States. Here is a sample of the findings in the survey. • 75% of participants feel positively toward corporations that include African-American imagery in their communications. • Only 3% of participants feel that corporate America does a good job outreaching to the African-American LGBT community. • African-American LGBT participants are trending higher in interacting with LGBT websites over the past 12 months, while interaction with LGBT print media is holding steady. • LGBT participants are trending higher in interacting with LGBT websites over the past 12 months, while interaction with LGBT print media is holding steady. • Starbucks and Target are the top two brands from which the African-American LGBT community has made a conscious decision to purchase because of

Earl Fowlkes

photo courtesy of Center for Black Equality



their pro-LGBT policies and practices. • By far, Chick-Fil-A is the brand most likely to be boycotted by the African-American LGBT community, with 78% indicating they are boycotting the company. • Body weight is the number one health concern of both male (71%) and female (72%) LGBT African Americans. After body weight, the health concerns of the men and women are very different. Gay and bisexual men are most concerned about HIV and STIs, while lesbians and bisexual women have more concern about mental health and heart disease. When analyzed by age, body weight is still the number one concern for both young and old, however mental health concerns resonate more with younger African-American LGBTs. • Participants take about 2.5 leisure trips per year and are most likely to stay at a midrange hotel. 68% of participants indicated that they are most likely to define themselves as warm weather travelers. 48% of the men defined themselves as urban core travelers, while 43% of the women defined themselves as culture travelers. Only 35% of participants defined themselves as known LGBT-friendly destination travelers. • Among all African-American LGBT participants, the NBA enjoys the top participation rate among all sports leagues surveyed, and 46% indicated having watched a game on television in the past 12 months. Among African-American lesbians and bisexual women, 22% indicated having attended a WNBA game in the past 12 months. For the complete report, visit

“We finally have data that provides insight on the AfricanAmerican/black LGBT purchasing power in the United States.”



HRC Invests $8.5 Million in the South

now The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently announced its plans to invest $8.5 million over a three-year period to further equality efforts in Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. “This is a real game changer,” said Ben Cooper, chairman of Equality Alabama. “Equality Alabama has long worked hard to create and affect positive change for the LGBT community in Alabama. This injection of capital and resources will allow us, as a community, to increase our focus and accelerate the kind of change in Alabama that we see occurring elsewhere around the country.” The investment is part of a new initiative called Project One America and will result in a full-time staff and physical office for LGBT advocacy in Alabama. The initiative will be headed by Brad Clarke, a long-time LGBT advocate with a consistent record of success at statewide LGBT equality organizations in Iowa and Colorado. Its deputy director will be Karin Quimby, a veteran of HRC’s field work in the South. “Brad and Karin are no strangers in Alabama, and Equality Alabama has long been working with both of them,” Cooper said. “As HRC ramps up its educational efforts to make Alabama a safer and more friendly place for LGBT persons, Equality Alabama and its 501(c)(4) organization, Equality for Alabama, are simultaneously increasing our own efforts as well.” In January 2014, Equality Alabama hired long-time Montgomery lobbyist Jeff Martin to lobby on its behalf, marking the first time in the state’s history that the LGBT community was represented by a paid lobbyist at the state capital. “Our relationship with HRC is one that we have strengthened over many


by Dan Groover

months engaging in conversations demonstrating the undeniable credibility of Equality Alabama and that of our nationally recognized partner organizations,” Cooper added.

viduals in the workplace. They are currently working to implement workplace nondiscrimination ordinances in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville.

Along with affecting change in Montgomery, Equality Alabama and HRC are dedicated to building legal protections for LGBT indi-

“It’s an exciting time to be a member of our community in Alabama,” Cooper said. “More than that, it’s an exciting time to be an Alabamian.”



THE MANY COLORS OF by Jesse Walker A star since the 1960s, Dolly Parton has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. With her latest album, Blue Smoke, releasing on May 13, the 68-year-old country music legend still has the energy to embark on a new world tour to promote the album and reach out to her fans. Having grown up poor in East Tennessee, Dolly has deeply rooted Blue Smoke in a variety of influences from her life, and she feels that one of the most notable tracks is “Lay Your Hands on Me,” written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. “When I heard that song years and years ago when it first came out, I thought it would make such a perfect gospel song. I grew up in a Pentecostal Church where we really believed in laying your hands on people and praying for them,” Dolly says. “I really think it made a great gospel song! It’s one of my favorites on the whole album just because it’s different and we did all those bluegrass harmonies in addition to the choir.”

to recall the many things that blue smoke means to her. The song is a great reflection of where she grew up, the Great Smoky Mountains, often called the “Blue Smokies” because of the blue, smoke-like mist that rises from them. “The other ‘blue’ part of that smoke is that there was so much bluegrass influence with the instruments and the harmonies,” she says, before adding that the song is most literally about a train. “You just feel like you are going somewhere. You are getting out of a mess,” she says. Then, she adds with a laugh, “I don’t like to fly so I would rather ride a train. ‘Blue Smoke’ just seemed to fit all of those things.”

That gospel sound is just one of the “many colors” Dolly said is found on the album. She explained she makes music that her fans want to hear and that she personally enjoys, rather than catering to a commercialized radio sound. Bluegrass, gospel, mountain, country, pop, and rock aspects can all be found on the new album, creating a variety of sound that is very much on purpose.

Having already completed the Australia and New Zealand legs of her tour, Dolly will have a run of shows in the United States in May, followed by a widespread visit to Europe in June and July, including stops in Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. She notes the differences between American audiences and those in another country, especially how international audiences are so responsive to her show because neither she nor they know when they will get to see each other again. “I give it all I have got, and they give it all they have got,” she says, “so it really makes for a nice, fun show.”

Blue Smoke had been on Dolly’s mind as a great title for a project since her early bluegrass music, and she wrote the title track

Even while traveling, Dolly makes sure to write something every day. “Songwriting is just as natural as breathing to me,” she says.

photo courtesy of Dolly Records.

“It was a song that brought me out of the Smoky Mountains and sent me around the world.” When she is home, Dolly likes to plan two- to three-week periods when she will retreat to either her East Tennessee home or her Nashville lake house to do nothing but write. “I can come up with anywhere from 20 to 30 songs during that period of time,” she says and then quickly adds, “but they are not all good! “I do prefer to write alone because I just have such definite thoughts; it is like my little private time,” she continues, explaining that she has different instruments, including guitars, banjos, and a piano, in her home depending on what sound she is wanting for a particular song. Still, she sometimes will write with others, such as her brother, her uncle, and one of her aunts. Dolly realizes her international fans are not the only ones who have lifted her to icon-level status and embraces the way the LGBT community has come to love her. “Well, first of all, the guys want to look like me,” she jokes. “I’ve always said, it is a good thing I was born a woman or I would have definitely been a drag queen!” She thinks the community supports her because she, too, has been condemned and persecuted for who she is, what she thinks, and what she looks like. “I think people relate to me because they know that I understand what it’s like to


fight for being myself and overcoming all sorts of things,” she says. “I don’t judge or criticize anybody. I’m not God, and I’m not a judge. I just love everybody.” She is honored and flattered not only that the drag queens like to dress like her but that the LGBT community truly understands her. “We are just people. We do what we do, love who we love, and can’t help who we are. We should proudly be that.” When it comes to what she does next, Dolly has a lot of ideas. “I just want to continue to do more and be better with the things I’ve got,” she says. “I want to write better songs. I want to record better records. I would love to do a children’s [television] show someday. I would love to have my own cosmetic company. I just always look for good things to write about, to talk about, and just try to do something to help somebody else. I have new dreams everyday, but one thing I am proud of is the Imagination Library and giving books to children.” Dolly has also received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2006 from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and is very proud and grateful for the recognition of her achievements. “It’s different than your family and friends saying it, but when that many special people think I’ve done something, I must have done pretty good,” she says. “I’m so grateful and thankful that I have had a chance to see my dreams come true unlike so many people in this world that can never say that. “I ain’t done yet!” she adds. “I hope to do this for a long time more. I don’t ever intend to retire.” Dolly will be bringing her classics like “Jolene” and “Coat of Many Colors” as well as all the new tunes from Blue Smoke to audiences in the United States and worldwide as her Blue Smoke World Tour continues. The album launches May 13. Visit for a full list of tour dates.


photo courtesy of Dolly Records.

t or pp su CC to GL d N ou e Pr th

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big idea

Developing AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET by Michael Burcham, PhD

In this ever-changing world, we are constantly forced to reinvent our businesses and ourselves. This reinvention process requires an entrepreneurial mindset. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is all about perspective. It’s the view that no matter how long you’ve been in business, you’re starting it anew today. It’s about the process of diagnosing issues and symptoms to find root problems, framing options that may serve as possible solutions, clarifying data that you have and seeking information you need, and developing viable options and alternatives. Being entrepreneurial in our work is essentially a mindset of thinking and doing something that we have not done before to achieve a desirable goal or outcome. It is about assessing a situation, designing alternatives, and choosing a new way—or perhaps a combination of ways— that we hope will lead us to something better, however we happen to define better at that moment. Here are some key areas you can focus on to build your own entrepreneurial mindset:

1. Shape Your Life Experience Entrepreneurial thinking is about where we place the responsibility for our experiences. Although it’s not realistic to think that we have complete


control of all our experiences, it’s martyrdom to think that we have none. An entrepreneur is someone deeply engaged in his or her experience of life and willing to do the daily work of transforming it. A very successful entrepreneur takes the time to analyze her life, to look closely at her vision and purpose in life. She puts her life on paper. She takes the time to construct mental images that guide her on her journey. While most people are winging it, she puts her life mission, business vision, and goals on paper. Then, she goes to work, executing her plan. When we constantly work on ourselves, we develop a greater understanding of and a greater belief in ourselves. This mindset is what allows us to become an expert in our chosen area. If we don’t understand and value ourselves, neither will anyone else, and those who understand and value themselves have a greater ability to understand and value others.

2. Think Pragmatic Idealism To adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, we must be idealists while remaining pragmatic. We must be sensitive to the world we wish to see and conscious of the world as it is. The entrepreneur’s work lies in connecting the two. When we are able to thoughtfully connect our dreams with our skills and a market opportunity, we are ready to begin our own entrepreneurial journey.

3. Think Strategically An entrepreneur is a great strategist and a master at getting others excited about helping them grow the business. They know how to make the most of every opportunity to bring in new

prospects, convert them to paying clients, and get them to buy repeatedly. That means carefully planning, strategizing, measuring results against expectations and readjusting. It means taking calculated risks and learning from the ideas that fail—and there are always ideas that fail. Most people make their decisions about their lives and careers based on emotions and assumptions. Successful entrepreneurs base their decisions on fact-based thinking.

4. Act Purposefully with Vision Vision is what we’re to do with the time that we have. Have you known anyone that is absolutely driven to succeed? No matter what the obstacle, he keeps going. In most cases, it is because he has extraordinary clarity of his vision. He took the time to clearly define what it is that he wanted to do. He stopped and thought about his life and what it was that he wanted to accomplish. He had the drive to see the task all the way to its outcome. Time is our scarcest resource. When we realize not as an intellectual construct but as an emotional conviction that our time here is finite, we act purposefully. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must protect and manage your time, because it is the most valuable asset you have. Thoughtfully plan your days, weeks, months, and years. Think about both how and with whom you spend your time—it’s likely an indicator of what you will become.

5. Understand the Ecosystem James F. Moore defined a business ecosystem as “an eco-

nomic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals.” These ecosystems encourage companies to coevolve their capabilities. Sometimes an ecosystem can sprout up around a product (think about the cases, headphones, and chargers for mobile devices). A company can sprout whole economic worlds as was the case of the App Store, which was a new platform for Apple. Amazon also sprouted a marketplace where third-party vendors could offer their wares, creating an ecosystem. These ecosystems are the structure that surrounds and supports our businesses. They build stakeholders out from the business and into society.

6. Learn to Focus Your Energy This characteristic is what I have found to be the most important when it comes to entrepreneurial success. Once we become aware of the possibilities of success, we also realize how many other opportunities abound. It is easy to become scattered and distracted. Successful people develop the ability to focus and concentrate to maximize their resources and effort.

Summary Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is one of the best self-growth initiatives someone can undertake. Individuals who actively work to develop an entrepreneurial mindset are transformed, rarely resembling the person that they once were. They are constantly educating themselves and gaining experience that will lead them to the goals they desire. They truly understand the importance of acquiring greater skill sets, which in turn gives them greater self-worth.

Advocating for Same Sex Partners Financial and Legal Issues • Estate Protection • Personal Protection • Income Protection • Tax Protection • Investment Protection An industry leader in educating clients, peers, and adult learners in estate planning and wealth transfer, Frank C. Weightman, PH.D., CEP, is a strong advocate for the Nashville LGBT community. His office is located at 341 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 210, Franklin, TN 37067, 615.261.4632. Securities and advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC. Radian Partners is not affiliated with FSC or registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor.

N now

GLAAD Presents Takei with Vito Russo Award by Estella Pan

photo courtesy of GLAAD

George Takei accepts the Vito Russo Award at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria New York.

GLAAD, the nation’s LGBT media advocacy organization, honored George Takei and the best in film and television at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria New York. Naomi Watts, Kylie Minogue, Emmy Rossum, Boy George, Laura Prepon, Laverne Cox, Swoosie Kurtz, Tamron Hall, and country star Kacey Musgraves were among the special guests. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for its fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories of LGBT people and issues that build support for equality. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive officer of GLAAD, addressed the capacity crowd. “We are a team—focused on advocating and educating—and we have added a new component to our arsenal: we have to protect the phenomenal progress we have made over the past quarter century. There are some who say our work is done. I say we have twice as much work to do.” George Takei received the Vito Russo Award, which is named after one of GLAAD’s cofounders and the author of The Celluloid Closet. The award is presented to an out media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. “I am so glad to be with all you GLAAD people to receive this important recognition. The Vito Russo Award is charged


with meaning and potency. In the twenty-five years since its founding, GLAAD has dramatically changed American society for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people,” Takei said, in his acceptance speech. “I know, because as a closeted kid growing up in Los Angeles, all I saw of gays and lesbians in movies and television or heard on radio were caricatures of people who were mocked and laughed at or pitied or hated. The media stripped us of all humanity and made us into pathetic stereotypes. The media then was a soul-crushing monster. “GLAAD took on this formidable beast with its media savvy, political acumen, and the power of its advocacy and transformed the media into a powerful force for change. GLAAD inspired and galvanized others into action to join with in the great 21st century civil rights movement. “But as long as LGBT people can be fired from their jobs for simply being who they are, our work isn’t done yet. As long as young people are kicked out of their families just for being who they are, our work is not done yet. As long as people are being bullied into feeling that their lives are so hopeless that they are driven to self-destructive acts, our work is not done,” Takei continued. “Working in concert with GLAAD, with its history of achievement and the legacy of Vito Russo, we will make this a better world, a more equal society of all people. I accept the GLAAD Vito Russo Award with pride and with humility and with resolve.”


Stepping out fresh-faced from college into an established company with a reputation for doing things differently can be intimidating, but approaching the owner and telling him you are going to own half the company one day sounds like a quick career killer. That is exactly what Thomas Ryan-Lawrence did. “I was just out of college at GSU [Georgia State University] and took a sales job for the local Gay Community Yellow Pages [GCYP],” he says. “I had absolutely no idea what I was stepping into, let alone where it would take me.” Fast forward a decade later and that fresh-faced boy from college is now a partner and the chief financial officer for one of the fastest growing LGBT-owned small businesses in the United States, Carma Productions, Inc., and is taking a yellow page company into the era of mobile tech with the launch of Gayborhood. “We saw the need for an on-the-go version of GCYP,” Ryan-Lawrence explains. “We saw everyone looking down constantly at their phones. And that was that, we knew what we had to do.” Gayborhood is a mobile application designed to be powered and used by the gay community. By leaving the app open for constant listing additions, the size of the directory has grown exponentially since its launch in 2010. Anyone from the 14-year-old high school student to the 85-yearold activist can add an LGBT-friendly business for free. “We can’t be everywhere; we can’t talk to every business owner face-to-face,” Ryan-Lawrence says, “well, at least not yet. We want everyone to feel that this is their resource, for them to grow and use as they see fit.” As members of a certified LGBT business enterprise, the executive staff wear lapel pins letting clients know that they are proud of their certification.

photo courtesy of Carma Productions

Thomas Ryan-Lawrence Carma Productions

“Very rarely are you asked to ‘prove it’ when it comes to being gay,” Ryan-Lawrence says, “but let me tell you, NGLCC does just that and then some. It’s reassuring to know that they have our backs and want to protect the value of being a minority-owned business.” Ryan-Lawrence, along with his business partner, Marci Alt, founded Carma Productions, Inc., in 2007 when their services expanded from yellow page publishing to include


consulting, diversity training, and later, Gayborhood. They are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Gay Community Yellow Pages and four fabulous years of Gayborhood. Ryan-Lawrence is happily married to Chris, his husband of two years. The couples lives in Atlanta and welcomed their first child, Noah, in January. For more information, visit

Betsy Cerulo is the founder and chief executive officer of AdNet/AccountNet, Inc. The company was started in 1990 and has evolved into an integrative business solutions company providing human resource capital management services. “AdNet blends the best in people with the ongoing demands of the workplace by offering a humanistic approach to identify subject matter experts in the areas of accounting, finance, health care, human resources, and information technology,” Cerulo says. A graduate of the Catholic University of America, Cerulo began her career as a system accountant in her home state of New Jersey. She took her expertise in accounting and information technology and joined a national finance recruiting firm in January 1985. She progressed from personnel consultant to vice president, before leaving to start AdNet. Since then, AdNet/AccountNet has been recognized as one of Baltimore’s largest temporary agencies and women-owned businesses, and Cerulo has received several honors from SmartCEO Magazine, including recognition as one of the Brava! Top 25 Female CEOs and as the head of one of the Future 50 Fast Growing Companies. Cerulo was in the first group of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in Business in 1996, and her list of extracurricular activities includes serving as president on the executive board of the Maryland chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners as well as previously serving as vice chairwoman on the executive board of the Greater Maryland Better Business Bureau and the National Council of Better Business Bureaus. “I have a passion for fostering and mentoring new entrepreneurs and serving the LGBT community,” she says. “I’m actively involved with Chase Brexton Health Services, which is a regional health care facility serving diverse populations with a focus on LGBT health.” As an openly gay business owner, Cerulo is proud to create a safe workplace where all people are accepted and developed. She is married to her long-time spouse, Susan Murray, and with their two dogs and cat, the couple lives in Baltimore where they are the happy stewards of a 160-year-old historic farmhouse. They have a son, Matthew, a daughter, Carolyn, and two beautiful granddaughters, Alyssa and Julieanna. Cerulo’s greatest professional accomplishment is continually designing a healthy workplace that advocates creativity, excellence, and unconditional acceptance. For more information, visit

Betsy Cerulo


photo courtesy of AdNet / AccountNet


When Frances Toler looked at her two daughters 15 years ago, she realized her career had to change if her girls were to go to college. Since she was a midwife and her partner a hospice nurse in Washington, D.C., their salaries did not cover much beyond the basics—let alone college. Although Toler loved midwifery— her close relationships with clients and, of course, the babies—she knew it was time for a career change. But, to what? “I like to call it the Birkenstocks to pantyhose transition,” she says with a laugh, explaining how the transformation from midwife to financial planner was not the huge departure some might imagine. Although the technical details of the work were very different, she found that, at the core, the requirements for success were similar. “What surprised me was how satisfying this financial work was,” she continues. “Being the trusted advisor, guiding people through issues they found challenging or personal—all these were familiar to me.” After years of building a clientele and seeking training and professional certifications, including a Master’s in Financial Services, Toler is now enjoying a successful practice helping families and business owners with investment management, insurance advising, and financial planning, including estate and business planning. While many people find financial planning stressful, Toler observes it is an issue of perspective. When people focus solely on finances, they tend to become caught

Frances Toler

photo courtesy of Toler Financial Group

Toler Financial Group up in anxiety-producing math and lose sight of the bigger picture: how money fits into their lives. She understands that another step must come in the process before discussions of taxes or investments, and that step involves acting as midwife to the clients’ futures. “The key step,” she emphasizes, “is to help my clients articulate what they


want to do and experience in their lives. Afterwards it is easier to identify the goals that will help realize that vision, turning the planning process into meaningful and fun discussions about the future.” Drawing on her love of the Rocky Mountains, Toler calls her process the Mountain Vision Program.

“The name reflects that big picture perspective you get from the top of a peak, when you can see everything around you and reflect on where you want to go,” she says. “I want my clients to have that perspective, so they can put money in its proper place in their lives.” For more information, visit

After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, Dan Trzos began his career as a counselor working with hearing-impaired Georgians. In 1993, he joined Canada Life as a rehabilitation consultant for disability claims. After a successful career, he left Canada Life as the manager of U.S. claims to develop a network of independent medical exam services for national carriers. Trzos also consulted with Georgia Rehabilitation Services while launching his own health insurance agency. In August 2013, he sold his block of businesses to begin consulting with employ-

ers, brokers, and social service agencies on Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance as the industry moved further into health care reform. Service expansion will include a private exchange offering to employers and brokers for employee health benefit selection and enrollment. Using the analogy of a Blockbuster sitting in a parking lot with Netflix knocking at its door, Trzos explained it was time to reinvent how insurance products were brought to market with the advent of the ACA.

A company retraining and reinventing itself to flow with the market is necessary to remain in business, and Trzos saw his business become more specialized yet continue to serve a broader base through private exchange enrollment technologies and knowledge of the ACA regulations. “With any change and educational pursuit, you put a lot of long hours in while juggling family and work,” he says. “Unfortunately, the challenges of high insurance premiums, politics, elections, media coverage, supreme court rulings, carrier waffling, and public sentiment have had a greater impact on the ‘transition’ from a traditional health insurance agency to a specialized consulting and enrollment firm than expected. But hey, even Netflix stock dropped to all-time lows and is again thriving.” In the next five years, Trzos sees health insurance selection moving to a more consumerism-based model with individuals and employee groups becoming more aware of cost and product options. By blending health insurance broker knowledge with social service navigator entities to bring product to all Americans, the consumer will be the winner. Trzos obtained his BS in Counseling from Wayne State University in Detroit and his Masters of Public Administration from Georgia State University in Atlanta. He has recently been contacted to serve on gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter’s policy group on the ACA in Georgia. He and his partner live in Atlanta’s Grant Park neighborhood with their teenage son and their hound dog. In his spare time, Trzos enjoys creating stained glass, reading, and practicing Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Yoga. For more information, visit

Daniel F. Trzos

US Marketplace

photo courtesy of Healthcare Reform Consulting


Behind every innovation is a great innovator. During one of the most uncertain economic times in recent American history, when businesses were becoming more conservative in their overall spend and budgets for business travel were the first to be cut, partners Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth saw an opportunity for innovation. Together, the couple used their shared passion for marketing to found American Meetings, Inc., (AMI) with the goal of bringing new solutions to the corporate meetings industry. McNeill and Bludworth first met while working for a meeting planning firm that provided meeting logistics, such as preplanning and onsite execution to three major pharmaceutical corporations; however, the pharmaceutical industry was facing increasing scrutiny on marketing spend for physician

travel, meals, and accommodations, and pharmaceutical companies had begun canceling onsite meetings and events to look for alternate strategies to market new drugs. The effect was felt across the meetings and events industry, and the need for innovative solutions coupled with the ability to serve multiple client industries was essential for survival. “Every one of our clients has a unique challenge,” says Bludworth, “and it is our job to develop a custom experience for every organization we serve.” Along with being business partners, the pair were married in Vermont in 2009 and soon after became the proud fathers of twins. “Raising a family together provides its own set of unique challenges,” says McNeill, “but being business

and life partners also allows for greater business flexibility.” Over the past decade, AMI’s clients have benefitted from its pioneering proprietary meeting technologies, including AttendeeBuilder, a one-of-a-kind attendee marketing platform that integrates and personalizes all marketing channels, such as URLs, HTML5/Flash Intros, and surveys, and MeetingSoft, AMI’s project management and custom event registration platform. “You have to be ready for every opportunity that comes your way, no matter how big or small,” McNeill explains. “Keeping an open mind and remaining flexible is what has made AMI such a success story.” For more information on American Meetings and its founders, please visit

Andy McNeill & Todd Bludworth

American Meetings, Inc.

Todd Bludworth, Andy McNeill, and the AMI Team

photo courtesy of American Meetings, Inc.

Route 7 Productions is a full-service production company providing services for photo shoots and films all over the United States. Since opening in 2004, Route 7 has produced photo shoots for Kohl’s, Target, Budweiser, Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, JC Penney, CB2, Chico’s, the Home Depot, and more. In addition, Route 7 has completed production services for three feature films for foreign markets and has produced the short film Never Winter, which premiered at the Miami International Film Festival in 2010. “The company also produced the award-winning documentary UNFIT: Ward vs. Ward, which was an official selection in film festivals across the world in 2012 and 2013,” said Edwin Scharlau, owner of Route 7 Productions. “UNFIT: Ward vs. Ward chronicled the tragic story of Mary Ward, who lost custody of her 11-year-old daughter because she was a lesbian.” (Although the Pensacola, Florida, judge stated that the mother’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with his decision, in his ruling he said, “I believe that this child should be given the opportunity and the option to live in a non-lesbian world.”) The documentary racked up numerous awards on the festival circuit, including the Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the Jury Award for Best Social Justice Documentary at the Kansas International Film Festival, and First Place Documentary Feature at the Athens International Film+Video Festival. “Since opening 10 years ago, our primary business has been photo shoot production with the occasional film here and there,” Scharlau explained. “As we look towards the next five years, we hope to expand our film division by producing original content that inspires, educates, and entertains.” Route 7 is currently in pre-production on its first feature-length film, Proxy, and has also been the official media sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride for the last two years. Scharlau believes that part of being a good business is being a good neighbor. Through its Give 7 program, each year seven percent of the company’s profits are donated to charities in the regions where its clients live and work. Scharlau currently lives in Miami Beach with his partner of nine years, Victor, their six-month-old son, Joshua, and their dog, Marley. Find out more about Route 7 at

Edwin Scharlau

Route 7 Productions UNITE BUSINESS | 27

photo courtesy of Route 7 Productions

Before starting ZippyDogs, Elise Lindborg was the U.S. National Rowing Team manager from 1987 to 1996. She was responsible for all training, travel, drug testing, and competition logistics for Olympic, PanAm, World University, and National Team activities. Lindborg culminated her career in amateur sports by managing the 1996 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team. In 2000, Lindborg and her partner, Kelli Henderson, formed ZippyDogs, a promotional products company based in Seattle, which has earned the respect and business of national corporations throughout the country. “ZippyDogs is a woman-owned, LGBTBE supplier that helps companies market their businesses through the creative use of eco-friendly and American-made promotional products,” she says. “Our customers describe the company as innovative, responsive, reliable, friendly, and off the leash.” ZippyDogs has experienced sustained growth over the last three years, and since purchasing its world headquarters and becoming a certified LGBT Business Enterprise and a WBENC-certified business in 2010, it has won two government contracts and provided promotional products for Fortune 500 companies. In addition, ZippyDogs is a member of the Fair Labor Association and the Clean Technology Trade Alliance.

photo courtesy of ZippyDogs

“We have worked on branding and promotional products for companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Bristol-My-

Elise Lindborg ZippyDogs

ers Squibb, Edison of Southern California, Sound Transit, the University of Washington, the Seattle Storm, the Seattle Public Library, the Seattle Opera, Swedish Edmonds Hospital, and many more,” Lindborg says, “and most recently, ZippyDogs was recognized by the NGLCC as the 2013 NGLCC Supplier of the Year.”


Born and raised in Missoula, Montana, Lindborg calls herself a “Scandihoovian mutt” with equal parts of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish heritages. She holds a BFA and a K-12 Teaching Certificate from Pacific Lutheran University and has a Graduate Certificate in Public Health from the University of Washington. In 2012, thanks to a scholarship from the

NGLCC, she attended the Tuck Executive Education Minority Business Program at Dartmouth College. Lindborg and Henderson celebrated the 23rd anniversary of their marriage this past March. For more information, visit

photo courtesy of Your Exclusive Event Planners, Inc.

Trevor Yee and Ricky Tran

Trevor Yee

Your Exclusive Event Planner, Inc. In 2012, Your Exclusive Event Planner, Inc., received certification as an LGBT Business Enterprise by the NGLCC’s Supplier Diversity Initiative. Your Exclusive Event Planner rejects the typical “one size fits all” philosophy and understands that each event is unique. With this mentality, it uses creativity, dedication, and loyalty to create events that make its clients’ visions come to life. Trevor Yee and his team focus on making each event perfectly suited to a client’s wants and needs, ensuring that each event is an unprecedented success. Your Exclusive Event Planner offers a variety of services, including planning for corporate events, conferences and conventions, product launches, and private parties. “With a variety of services available, Your Exclusive Event Planner can handle event registration, valet service, security, catering, photography, technology, and entertainment needs,” he explains.

Yee envisions Your Exclusive Event Planner growing to become one of the premier event planning firms serving the LGBT community. “Our goal as an event planning firm is not only about helping strengthen a business’s landscape through diversity in its events but, equally as important, to promote LGBT firms to all businesses across the country,” he says. “Our access to a database with almost every business in America allows us to help our clients reach a larger target market.” Although his business is growing, Yee still sees a few challenges. “Being part of the LGBT community means we still face many prejudices from many prospective business clients,” he says. “I think there is a stereotype that it is ‘okay’ for an event planner, as an individual, to be a member of the LGBT community, but it is not ‘okay’ to hire a 100% LGBT-owned business.”

Your Exclusive Event Planner has had to work extra hard in presenting a case to prospective businesses that hiring the company, regardless of its owner’s or employees’ sexual orientations, will produce better results than hiring a competitor. LGBTBE certification helps many businesses win contracts with multinational firms that have diversity programs. However, Yee notices that larger businesses have hired staff to be their event planners and smaller businesses that do not have a diversity program find no advantage in hiring an LGBTBE. “I would like to use our certification as an LGBTBE as leverage in promoting other LGBTBEs to work with small businesses that do not have a diversity program.” For more information, visit





Marc Delphine

Equality Funds, Inc., recently announced the launch of Equality One, an investment fund for those who wish to invest in LGBT-friendly businesses. The organization also announced the criteria used to determine which businesses qualify as LGBT-friendly and offered statistics demonstrating how investments in LGBT-friendly businesses historically have produced higher returns. Additionally, the company expressed its commitment to work with businesses that are not currently meeting these standards to help them become LGBT-friendly. Marc Delphine, chief executive officer and founder of Equality Funds, is a financial advisor serving the LGBT community for the past 14 years. He was inspired to launch an investment vehicle that would enable investors to support the LGBT community by investing in a fund that only invests in LGBT-friendly companies. Delphine found that using assessments like the Human


photo courtesy of Equality Funds

Rights Campaign’s Buying for Equality Guide, an annual publication that determines whether or not a company is LGBT-friendly, could be used to provide supporters of the community guidance for investment opportunities. “Our research has clearly indicated that those companies, which have been considered LGBT-friendly over the past 10 years, have historically outperformed the market overall,” Delphine said. With a $25,000 initial-investment requirement, Equality Funds top holdings include Apple, Wells Fargo, Nike, Google, and Barnes & Noble. “Over the past 10 years, companies with increased diversity initiatives are consistently providing outstanding returns,” Delphine explained. “There is a clear correlation between company values and overall returns.” Equality Funds’s investment portfolio is managed by James Cornehlsen, Chartered Financial Analyst of Dunn Warren Investment Advisors, and screened by criteria that include a number of factors like policies and procedures banning workplace discrimination, same-sex partner benefits, and community outreach. “We want to offer our clients the opportunity to invest in something that not only could produce a higher rate of return but also one that aligns with their values of diversity, fairness and equality,” added Jill Nelson, chief talent and diversity officer. “Whether or not you are a member of the community, our focus on companies that value their people is one that has a recipe for success—a new kind of socially responsible investing.” For more information, visit

“...those companies, which have been considered LGBTfriendly over the past 10 years, have historically outperformed the market overall.” 888.460.4327

entrepreneur A new champion for the LGBT community lives at the intersection of community and commerce. The Board of Directors of StartOut, the national nonprofit dedicated to supporting and empowering LGBT entrepreneurs, has selected Gene Falk as the organization’s new chief executive officer. Falk will helm StartOut as it expands to the next step in its mission to help create the next generation of LGBT business leaders by fostering entrepreneurship in the LGBT community. While continuing to enhance its impact and extend the reach of its programs to educate, connect, support, and inspire active LGBT entrepreneurs, StartOut will place an increasing focus on its social impact activities, addressing economic empowerment at all levels of the LGBT community, with a particular emphasis on LGBT youth. In making the case for the LGBT community in business, especially for entrepreneurs, Falk hopes to get more people thinking about a sense of community equity. In the next few decades, entrepreneurs and small business owners will create more than half of all new jobs, and the LGBT community will make up a powerful and dynamic subset of those job creators. “Why do gay people need a business network?” is probably the most common question he is asked, and the possible answers can be as wide-ranging and impassioned as our community itself. The sheer number of affinity groups and diversity initiatives at major businesses show the playing field is anything but level. Despite the community’s ever-growing social acceptance, obstacles keep them from achieving the kind of parity they deserve. The LGBT community is smashing through barriers toward more social wins for marriage equality, adoption rights, medical care, and the like, but battles remain to be won in the arena.


Gene Falk

photo courtesy of StartOut

Getting to Know the New CEO: GENE FALK OF STARTOUT by Jonathan D. Lovitz Business thrives on competition, and StartOut is working for a climate where no one gets to win because one community has one hand tied behind its back. Entrepreneurs should never have to choose between the closet and their careers. While substantial gains for the community have been made in representation and visibility in politics, entertainment, journalism, and now even sports, in too many places the corporate closet continues to flourish, and virtually no role models are in the senior ranks of the business community. Not a single Fortune

500 company is headed by an openly LGBT person, and few of them have any openly LGBT board members. It is time for America’s LGBT entrepreneurs to rise to that level of prominence among business leaders. Falk is a highly acclaimed and innovative leader and a senior executive with extensive experience as a chief executive officer. In both the corporate and notfor-profit worlds, he has a track record of scaling and managing game-changing ventures, including a series of groundbreaking enterprises he developed for Fortune 500 media companies, including HBO and Showtime.

Falk left the corporate world and moved to the public sector, where he transformed mothers2mothers from a small, grass-roots program into a global leader in innovative public health, a $20 million per year, multinational not-forprofit focused on AIDS prevention and care and maternal and infant health. Earlier, while serving as a senior executive at Showtime, he was an activist and a passionate advocate for LGBT and HIV/AIDS causes. Falk helped establish GLAAD as a national organization and later chaired its board, and he provided critical support as a board member, advisor, and fundraiser for other leading LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations. Falk and mothers2mothers have received extensive recognition and honors from both the public and private sectors, including the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Kravis Prize for Leadership, as well as recognition by the World Economic Forum/Schwab Foundation and the Treatment Action Group. “It is a tremendous honor to take the reins of StartOut and work closely with its dedicated and deeply passionate board,” he said. “I believe that economic equality is one of the next huge issues for the LGBT community, and StartOut can play a unique role in leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs and business people throughout our community.” Among the objectives for StartOut in the year ahead are issues that lie at the intersection of commerce and social impact. LGBT workers earn an average of 20 percent less than their straight counterparts. In 29 states, a person can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and in 33 states if he or she is transgender.

StartOut sought, and found, a leader with deep experience scaling organizations in the corporate, nonprofit, and not-for-profit sectors. Falk’s unique background combining leadership in business, social entrepreneurship, and the LGBT community is a perfect fit to lead StartOut as it grows and works towards ambitious goals of addressing economic empowerment for the LGBT community. StartOut’s work in this area will help strengthen the community, thus increasing its capacity for the many civil rights battles ahead. In the time since its inception, StartOut has developed a powerful network of over 9,000 LGBT professionals with an interest in and passion for entrepreneurship and business leadership. They all come with the desire to help others while pursuing their own ambitions and dreams. Starting 2014 with five active chapters in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, and Boston and three more on the launchpad in Chicago, Seattle, and Denver, StartOut will build on its 2013 success, when it sponsored over 60 events educating and connecting LGBT entrepreneurs. StartOut was recently awarded a grant from the Arcus Foundation, one of the world’s leading funders of LGBT causes. The $50,000 grant will help Falk and StartOut’s board support the next generation of LGBT business leaders and their engagement on these issues: helping aspiring entrepreneurs start new companies, helping current entrepreneurs to grow and expand their businesses, and engaging successful entrepreneurs to support and mentor others throughout the community, with a particular focus on LGBT youth. Learn more at

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Team NGLCC and Honored Guests Attend the 2014 NGLCC Mexico Trade Summit and LGBT Summit of the Americas

photo courtesy of NGLCC


From March 11 to 14, I was in Mexico City as part of the 2014 National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Trade Mission and LGBT Summit of the Americas. This was the third such event coordinated by NGLCC; the first mission was to Argentina in 2010 when the NGLCC delegation personally witnessed same-sex marriage signed into law by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, followed by the second to Colombia in 2012 when the NGLCC affiliate chapter was launched in the country. The most outstanding part of my first NGLCC trip was the multifaceted aspect of the mission, which successfully crammed several critical elements into a few short days, including my own business exporting opportunities, the first-hand experience of the global movement for LGBT economic empowerment, and the chance for excellent networking.


U.S. LGBT-business owner exporting opportunity. One day of the mission was set aside for the U.S. small businesses making the trip to meet with potential Mexican clients. The meetings were set up by the U.S. Commercial Service, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Commission, that partners with NGLCC to spur U.S. economic growth through the exporting of U.S. products and services to trading partners outside the U.S. I was very pleased to meet with three large, well-qualified Mexican companies across three very different market segments (banking, retail, and pharmaceutical) that had a real need for my human resources consulting services. In addition, I was privileged to meet with Pedro Borda Hartmann, the executive president of AMEDIRH, Mexico’s largest association of human resources professionals. I gained invaluable insight from this senior leader discussing common issues facing human resources leaders in Mexico and the United States.

The global movement for LGBT economic empowerment. It was exciting to see first-hand how the movement for growing economic equality for LGBT-owned businesses is expanding beyond the United States to be truly global. As it enters into its second decade, the NGLCC is expanding across North and South America and empowering LGBT-owned businesses to grow. Along with the 20 delegates from the United States, approximately 80 government officials, business owners, executives, and chamber leaders from Mexico and several other Latin American countries attended the trade mission. The opening plenary session included the historic signing of a cooperative agreement between NGLCC and Mexico’s Council to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination (COPRED). In addition, several workshops were offered to deliver valuable tools to assist LGBT-owned and allied businesses from all over Latin America to help them succeed. Excellent networking. Though the agenda was jampacked with quality activities, time was still available to network with the diverse crowd from several constituencies. I got to spend quality time having meaningful discussions with: • peer LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs), discussing various marketing and sales strategies, how to navigate corporate procurement, global business expansion, and more; • representatives from large American companies that underwrote much of the expense of the Summit of the Americas portion of the meeting; • local Mexican LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs as well as LGBT business leaders from several other countries; and • supportive leaders of large Mexican companies, who are starting to understand the importance of an LGBT-supportive business strategy. Very importantly, I was thrilled to spend quality time with the visionary founders and leaders of NGLCC, Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell, who worked tirelessly growing their vision of LGBT economic empowerment from a seed of an idea into a major global movement in just one decade. In addition, two NGLCC vice presidents, the energetic and highly skilled Joanna Dees and Rick Fowler, were present to coordinate the activities, which included some exceptional receptions and cultural sightseeing. As with every NGLCC event, the deep outstanding content was capped with some fabulous parties.

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giving back When a federal judge in Nashville, Tennessee, recently ruled that three married same-sex couples should have their out-of-state marriages recognized in the Tanco vs. Haslam lawsuit, an important partner organization was involved in the case. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has been leading the way to marriage equality across the country. Founded in 1977, NCLR is a public advocacy law firm focusing on LGBT equality issues, including marriage recognition, immigration issues, reproductive rights, employment discrimination, and transgender law. Currently, under the leadership of executive director Kate Kendell, the organization employs a team of attorneys and policy advisors who often work in partnership with local attorneys on cases in locations where LGBT equality is a challenge. “NCLR is an amazing national organization that has long been committed to helping the LGBT community all over the country and has backed up its commitment with real action,” said attorney Abby Rubenfeld, who is a member of NCLR’s National Advisory Board. “They have helped me in Tennessee since the late 1970s and are currently litigating two cases with me to challenge anti-LGBT discrimination. They are not afraid of the difficult cases or the tougher parts of the country. They are talented, committed, strategic, thoughtful, and reliable. I could not do what I do without them.” The organization also provides resources to both liberal and conservative states, such as the lead counsel in the California marriage case that eventually led to legalized same-sex marriage before the passage of Prop 8, which was eventually overturned. “For over 30 years, NCLR has been about taking the cases that no one thought were winnable and winning them no matter where they are,” Kendell said.


Kate Kendell, executive director of NCLR

photo courtesy of NCLR



When asked what NCLR case she thinks has had the most impact in the last ten years, Kendell says answering would feel like picking her favorite child. “It really is impossible [to pick just one],” she said, “so I’m going to cheat. In terms of where we have made the broadest impact in the past 10 years, that would be in our marriage work. From winning before the California Supreme Court to the recent federal trial court win in Tennessee, our work on marriage has been game-changing and has truly shifted the public discourse in favor of a better understand of LGBT people. “In terms of where we make the most crucial difference, that would be our asylum work, where we represent LGBT clients who have suffered unspeakable treatment in their home countries,” she continued. “When we win their cases, we win them a new life.” A misconception about the organization is that it merely assists lesbian rights cases. Despite the group’s name, NCLR takes on cases for anyone in the LGBT community from all walks of life—gay men, transgendered individuals, youth, elders, athletes, and families. NCLR has helped numerous couples in difficult lawsuits involving parenting issues over separations, visitation, hospital rights, and adoption rights. They have worked in partnership with several groups over reproductive freedom issues across the country to insure a woman’s right to choose and to maintain rights for LGBT families. Overall, the organization helps cover a broad array of legal, legislative, and policy matters to make the country more equal. From the Boardroom to the Convention Center

As the United States moves toward a day when marriage equality is a reality, Kendell suggests the work of groups like NCLR won’t be over. “Our greatest challenge will be that we don’t give up too soon. We are far from a day when every LGBT person feels safe, supported, and free to live openly,” she said. “Winning marriage nationwide will be a huge step forward, but it will not end stigma and harassment and fear. We have to stick with this fight until everyone, everywhere can live freely.” The combination of all these efforts are changing the country one step at a time, and it can be largely attributed to hardworking, lesser known groups, such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights. For more on NCLR, visit

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The Small Business Owner's RETIREMENT DILEMMA by Erik Lindsey

You’ve poured a lifetime of sweat, time, and capital into building your business. You’ve begun thinking about retirement, and your strategy is to sell your company for a good price, settle back, and enjoy a financially secure retirement. Like many business owners, however, you’ve made the mistake of assuming this scenario is guaranteed to happen, and you haven’t bothered to make any other retirement plans.

You Need to Be Realistic What are the odds of a person showing up at the right time with cash in hand to buy the company for a fair price? For thousands of small business owners each year, no one steps forward. Perhaps the business is too specialized or is tied too


closely to the owner’s unique personality and skills. Maybe possible buyers equate a retirement sale with a distress sale and make only low-ball offers. Whatever the reason, many owners find that their company has suddenly become a white elephant that nobody wants.

Select and Develop a Successor That’s why it’s so important to prime a replacement— someone who will buy your company when you are ready to retire. Maybe this is a current co-owner, but be cautious if he or she is about the same age as you and planning to retire around the same time. This could also be your son or daughter who is active in the business or a younger key employee.

Business owners who successfully groom their own replacements leave nothing to chance. They realize that there’s no room for error at the point of retirement. Here are some steps you should take: • Be cautious. Make sure your heir apparent is the right person in terms of temperament, personality, competence, and personal goals. • Set up a probation period so you can terminate the relationship if you find that this person will not work out. During this period, keep everything informal and strictly verbal. Even when you progress to a formal agreement, make sure it contains a termination provision. • Offer incentives to ensure that your replacement stays until the baton is passed. An ambitious successor needs and deserves gradually increasing authority and benefits. Options include deferred compensation or the opportunity to acquire partial ownership prior to your retirement. This provides both parties with something to win by sticking to the agreement, and something to lose if it falls apart. • Create a buy-sell agreement. With the help of your attorney, lock in who does and gets what, spelling out all details and caveats, including how to establish the final valuation of the business. This formal agreement protects everybody. • Build in a funding mechanism. This is crucial. No matter how good the terms of the buy-sell agreement, it will be worthless if the money is not there when needed to carry out the plan. Under one option, the successor may be able to purchase the company from ongoing profits. Other options include setting up a sinking fund or allowing the successor to simply borrow the money. These options may work, but they leave much to chance. Instead, consider a funding vehicle that protects your family in the event of your disability or premature death, such as life and disability income insurance. • Have a Plan B. As a business owner, you know that very few things go exactly as planned. What if your business hits tough times or your successor dies, becomes disabled, or leaves because of a personality conflict? Or what if there simply is no heir apparent waiting in the wings? Sometimes, it’s simply best to dismantle the business. Whether or not you have a possible successor for your company, you should begin mapping out your retirement strategy today. Your insurance professional or your independent professional advisors can work with you to help you develop a sound business strategy.

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[Editor’s Note: This educational third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Erik Lindsey of New York Life Insurance Company.]

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When Hunter Hayes performed his new single “Invisible” at the 2014 Grammy Awards in January, the dreamlike moment was one of many he has experienced since releasing his self-titled debut album in October 2011. Hayes used the setting to premiere his most personal song to date, a moving, piano-driven ballad he wrote about feeling like an outcast growing up.

photos courtesy of Warner Music Nashville

“I was a solid mass of nerves,” Hayes admits. “I was sick to my stomach almost the entire week before. We had a day off; I took a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to try to get my mind off it, but it didn’t work.” Hayes was anxious because he not only would be performing for the music industry’s biggest stars and nearly 30 million people watching at home, but he would also be putting the song’s message out there to the world for the first time. “Every time I talk about it, I get very emotional.” “Invisible,” the lead-off track from Storyline, Hayes’s second studio album, sprang out of a conversation that Hayes had with the song’s co-writers, Katrina Elam and Bonnie Baker. “We were in tears half the day talking about how our obsession with music made us different and led us down a path where there was no one else there,” he said. “While I had my parents, who totally supported me, I also had moments of feeling absolutely invisible, where no one really noticed anything about me. I think what inspired us the most was knowing that, as much as our stories have hurt us, at least we now have the perspective to look back on things and feel better. The important thing was to flip it and make it positive.” The song and segments of its accompanying music video portray the feelings many LGBT young people feel in high school where they are struggling to fit in, trying to combat bullying, and wondering why they aren’t like everyone else.

“At school, I was a quiet kid,” Hayes says. “I was really shy. My safe zone was music. Writing songs was like keeping a journal. I really took it seriously when I realized how powerful a tool it was and how much I needed it. I spent a lot of time in the studio that I built at our house, so much so that I neglected going out. I skipped all the parties. I skipped the prom every year because it always fell on a date when I had a gig to play. Music was the one thing that was going really well, and I was going to give every minute to it that I possibly could.” Though the isolation clearly took its toll, which he writes about so powerfully in “Invisible,” Hayes’s relentless focus clearly had its upside. Not only did his debut album establish Hayes as a leading talent in the country world, it also earned him a host of honors, including an American Music Award, a Country Music Association Award, two Teen Choice Awards, two American

Country Awards, and a CMT Music Award for Artist of the Year. Hayes has also befriended Elton John and contributes a cover of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” to the deluxe reissue of John’s classic 1973 album, which was released in March. On his latest album, Storyline, Hayes finds himself doing some serious soul-searching. “At 22, there’s a lot of trying to figure out love, which at the end of the day, I’ve realized I’ll never figure out, though the process of trying is fun.” Mostly, Hayes is looking forward to people hearing brand-new songs. “I’m just ready to say something new,” he says. “I’ve lived with the first record for so long, and I feel like I’ve written the next chapter and am ready to share it with the world. I’m ready to open up and tell my story.”



photo courtesy of Experience Columbus

Columbus, oh by Joey Amato

When it comes to emerging LGBT meccas, you should look no further than Columbus, Ohio. The Midwestern town is home to not only an energetic culinary and arts community but also a thriving LGBT community, containing dozens of entertainment options to satisfy any taste and budget. One of the most impressive things about the Arch City is the overwhelming friendliness of the people. Wherever we visited during our stay, we were greeted with open arms and a friendly smile. On this visit, I wanted to focus on Columbus’s much bragged about culinary community. New restaurants are sprouting up around the city and garnering national acclaim for their innovative concepts and menus. The greatest highlight is an establishment simply called The Kitchen, where guests can participate in the preparation of their dinner from start to finish.


The Kitchen is open to private parties and individuals who make reservations in advance of their visit. Guests are encouraged to grab an apron and a sharpened knife and help in the preparation of everything from the appetizers to the entrees and desserts. On my visit, I helped prepare a glorious crab salad made with fresh avocado and lump crab meat tossed in a light citrus vinaigrette dressing. The recipes are presented to guests, and the ingredients are already portioned out, leaving little room for error for even the most novice chef. After the hard work is complete, guests can grab a cocktail at the bar and converge around a large table where conversation with friends and strangers is highly encouraged. Just think of it as a large Thanksgiving dinner for about 40. With a quick glance at the bar, we noticed a brand of liquor called OYO; the bartender quickly explained that it is a local

product and gave us a sampling of their vodka and whiskey. My favorite of the bunch is the OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka. Containing aromas of marshmallow and honeycomb, the vodka works perfectly when combined with Cointreau or Grand Marnier and a splash of fresh lemon juice.

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Middle West Sprits, creator of the OYO brand, opens its distillery to visitors to view the production process and taste all the varieties it produces. For beer lovers, head to North High Brewing, a unique microbrewery that gives customers the chance to become brewmasters for the day, using North High’s proprietary brew-on-site equipment. Brunch is a big deal in Columbus, and the top choice among the locals is The Pearl. The restaurant offers traditional selections, such as Chicken and Waffles with warm blueberry sauce and Ohio honey and Huevos Rancheros with chorizo, guacamole, and smoked chili black beans. For those looking for a lighter brunch, The Pearl prides itself on its selection of fresh oysters and seafood. Another notable selection is the House Smoked Salmon with deviled egg, brioche, and scallion tartar sauce.

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Columbus is home to a large Italian population with a great assortment of restaurants highlighting the cuisines of various regions of Italy. In the heart of Victorian Village lies Basi Italia, a cozy establishment offering an innovative twist on Mediterranean cuisine. The eclectic menu offers something for every palate. Starters worth noting include Parmesan Crème Brûlée prepared with black pepper focaccia crisps and Crispy Fried Oysters accompanied by a citrus-saffron aioli and fried parsley. Entrees include a combination of delectable pasta, meat, and seafood selections. I recommend trying the Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops with sweet potatoes, spinach, and pomegranate blood orange, or for meat lovers, the Roasted Beef Short Rib with mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, and Italian tomato is to die for. If you have time in between your culinary adventure, swing by the Pizzuti Collection, located in the heart of Columbus’s gayborhood. The space offers a presentation of contemporary art from the private collection of Ron and Ann Pizzuti. Opening in September, the Collection will present NOW-ism: Abstraction Today, a thought-provoking exhibition of 21st century painting, sculpture, video, and furnishings representing the newest abstract work from today’s best artists. NOW-ism features international emerging stars like Sarah Cain, Diana Al-Hadid, and Florian Meisenberg and established artists, including Jim Hodges, Columbus’s own Ann Hamilton, and Miami-based Teresita Fernández. The show will include more than 100 works spanning all three floors of the space. Columbus is a hidden gem that people should venture to in the next year. Even the biggest New York, Miami, and San Francisco fans will not be disappointed. Columbus offers a big city feel with Midwestern charm.

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Z zen


Each week, I attend a business networking meeting with others from a variety of professions. At a recent meeting, I was both surprised and gratified when a man I had seen in my private practice stood up and said, “It is common today to talk about working out with a personal trainer for physical fitness goals, but it is still taboo to talk about seeing a psychotherapist. I’d like to see that change.” He then graciously affirmed my work with him in a counseling session during which he had engaged his inner “soul work.” As we reflect on our individual health and wellness, it is important to give attention to the well-being of both psyche (soul) and soma (body). Soul is the intersection of the earthly experience of body and spirit. We are well acquainted with our bodies, so understanding their importance takes little explanation. Spirit and spirituality rise above our bodily concerns and reflect the “higher order values” associated with our connection to all that is. Some call it “cosmic consciousness.” Viewed alone, spirit is all too often seen in the light of an ephemeral halo that untethers it from being grounded in our earthly experience. When that outlook governs, spirituality can take on the character of Peter Pan and refuse to grow up; it becomes all sky and ideas with little earth and gritty experience. Being soulful requires some embodied inner work for us to be fully developed and formed. Although any respected trainer will help you personalize your workout routine, some basics apply to everyone. What follows are three basics for being soulful, spiritually awake, and comfortable in your body. • Notice the thoughts that you are thinking. Are they an honest and reasonable appraisal of what you see in the world around you and within you? What is your mental ratio of gratitude to criticism of self and others? What theme is more dominant in your daily life: fear or freedom? The ancient Greeks thought that the source of light by which we see was from the eye itself. In one sense, they were correct; we tend to see more of what we expect to


see. Reflecting on our own thoughts is deeply spiritual work because doing so helps us face important existential questions: Who am I? What are my deepest values? Where am I going? Getting under our skin, such questions become a soulful process. • Keep yin and yang in balance. We are both receptive and assertive beings. In an entrepreneurial culture and capitalist society with a motto of “bigger, better, faster,” yang (assertive) energy often gets “top billing.” The result of yang energy alone often is burnout. Yin (receptive, nurturing) wisdom knows the power of the open and creative process that happens in the depth of the psyche when the night deepens, the moon keeps her watch, and dreams come to visit. Yin calls us to be silent, to retreat, to reflect, and to rest. A balance of yang and yin can find you enjoying a day “out” with friends and a night “in” without email, television, text messages, or Facebook. • Practice breathing. For five minutes twice a day, sit in a relatively quiet and secluded place and breathe. Take full yet comfortable breaths. Inhale through the nose and out through the mouth as if you were blowing through a straw. Focus on your breath alone, treating random thoughts as birds flying overhead. With each distraction, return your attention to your breath. Why? This positively affects the neurochemistry of the brain, bringing a sense of calm. It will also begin to give you another option to the response of “fight or flight” when something angering or anxiety-provoking comes along. A more helpful response can be just a breath away. Many of us spend much time and energy nourishing and tending our bodies. This care can indeed be part of our soulful work. If, however, you sense an ache, echo, or hunger within that just does not seem to be healed, filled, or fed, then the signs are that the soul is asking for attention. Listen to it. It has your best interest at heart.

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9/20/13 9:00 AM


June-July issue of UNITE Business featuring Dolly Parton.


June-July issue of UNITE Business featuring Dolly Parton.