From Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber Of Commerce

A record number of close to 600 revelers and networkers attended this year’s Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber Of Commerce (MDGLCC) 17th Annual Gala and Awards Celebration, “The Ruby Gala,” last Saturday night. Spotlighted at the event were a pioneer, a curator, some pop-ups and a moonlight. As is tradition, the event also showcased awards as “The Ruby Gala” once again honored corporate and individual supporters of the Miami-Dade LGBTQ community. “The Ruby Gala” took place Saturday, May 19th, at the Hilton Miami Downtown, 1601 Biscayne Boulevard, and was again presented by Wells Fargo.

“At its very foundation, the MDGLCC is all about networking and connecting,” said Steve Adkins, president of the MDGLCC. “We certainly did have a night full of networking opportunities at the Gala this year. We also had a lot of fun in the process and were honored to salute two individuals and two organizations that have worked tirelessly for the community.”


Honored at “The Ruby Gala” on Saturday were:

“AT&T Business of the Year Award”

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood                                        

“’Love All – Serve All’ is one of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s mottos and the sentiment is one that is deeply embedded into the company culture,” said Adkins. “In addition to its active involvement in the LGBTQ community through philanthropic sponsorships and support of community events, such as Diversity Honors benefitting the Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park, Seminole Hard Rock promotes diversity and inclusivity among its team members. Through the company’s human resources and compliance department, team members undergo diversity sensitivity training that promotes equality and acceptance among gender, sexual orientation, race, generation and more. Seminole Hard Rock’s LGBTQ+ Alliance is comprised of a group of dedicated team members who spearhead and facilitate initiatives committed to promoting dialogue and fostering social change.”


“Regions Business Person of the Year Award”

Vicki Brail

“Vicki is one of those rare human beings who devotes herself to the care and well-being of those who are marginalized,” said Jorge Richa, MDGLCC marketing and programming director. “Vicki has been serving the therapeutic, safety and functional needs of adults, children, women, men and members of the LGBTQ and Allied communities for over 45 years. She and her staff provide interventions in the areas of chronic mental illness, catastrophic medical issues, financial exploitation and abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse, hoarding behaviors, family dysfunction and advocacy positions within all communities. Her company assists clients and their families throughout the United States.”


“AIDS Healthcare Foundation Non-Profit Organization of the Year Award”

YES Institute

“YES Institute has literally saved an immeasurable number of lives,” said Scott Bader, MDGLCC director of membership & engagement. “YES Institute’s mission is to prevent suicide and ensure the healthy development of all youth through powerful communication and education on gender and orientation. By providing accessible education on gender and orientation for everyone in the South Florida community, and starting discussions at schools, hospitals, and places of faith about how to keep youth safe, YES Institute works to create a community in which all youth can develop as healthy individuals free of suicide, violence, and discrimination.”


“Morgan Stanley Bob Balsam Civic Achievement Award”

Roger Thomson

“There probably is not one LGBTQ organization in this town that Roger Thomson has not touched,” said Marty Davis, The Ruby Gala’s Chair. “Roger initially became active in the local community with the National LGBTQ Task Force Miami Gala and Winter Party by volunteering for both events, and also by becoming a member of the Task Force Leadership Counsel. He became a board member of the Task Force in 2010, serving as treasurer from 2012 to 2014, co-chair from 2015 to 2017, and currently serves as treasurer. Six years ago, Roger turned to Pridelines for help with his great-nephew's ‘coming out’ process and has been a supporter of that organization ever since, including becoming Presenting Sponsor twice, with his husband Jim Tyrrell, for Pridelines’ annual Masquerade Ball. Roger also helps support Save, Equality Florida, Outshine Film Festival, and Out Miami Foundation.”

The earlier alluded to “pioneer” was the Pioneer Winter Collective which was the featured entertainment at the Gala. Pioneer Winter is a Miami-based choreographer and director of the Pioneer Winter Collective – invested in physical theatre, contemporary dance, interdisciplinary collaboration, and transmedia. His expressive and thought-provoking interpretive performance at once enthralled and mystified the Gala audience.

The ambiance at the Gala was curated by Janet Fernandez and her team at Downtown Flowers. They brought “The Ruby Gala” to life though extraordinary floral arrangements which turned into surprise gifts for guests seated at each table.

Popping up at the event were “interactive pop-up” networking opportunities from HomeKO, Somi Dental Group, Tribeca Medaesthetics, Say It With a Condom, and Future Detox Now. In addition to displaying materials and literature about their respective organizations, each pop-up participant was encouraged to get creative and offer something interactive that engaged guests, making the experience more memorable.

The Gala’s moonlight was the Moonlight Networking Soiree, which took place after the awards ceremony. The Moonlight Networking Soiree rounded out the evening and allowed guests to continue “networking, engaging and connecting” while enjoying an open bar by Bacardi, featuring GREY GOOSE® Vodka.

Serving on the Host Committee for “The Ruby Gala” were: Bill Warren; Cindy Brown; David Treece & Luis Gonzalez Etchevest; Harvey Burstein; Jeff Giordano; Jerry Chasen & Mark Kirby; Joan Schaeffer & Roberta Goodman Mandel; Jonathan Barrio; Kevin Walsh; Mark Gilbert; Raquel Matas & Carla Lupi; Victor Gimenez & Edwin Scharlau; Don Hayden & Brian Thompson; Damian Pardo; Marty Davis & Michael Acton-Coles, Tony Lima & Yonel Galano, State Representative David Richardson, and Steve Haas & Charles Castro.

“The Ruby Gala” was the MDGLCC’s principal fundraiser of the year which helps sustain operations and expand the ever-increasing demand for member programming. “The Ruby Gala” was presented by Wells Fargo and produced by the MDGLCC & GALRDON. Major event sponsors include Bacardi, GREY GOOSE® Vodka, AT&T, Morgan Stanley, Regions Bank, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, American Airlines, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown Flowers, Triverden Creative, and Prestige AV & Creative Services. Media sponsors included Miami Herald, iHeart Radio 93.9 MIA and Y100, Cox Media Group, WIRE Magazine, South Florida Gay News, HotSpots Media Group, & Mark’s List.                              

MDGLCC is the largest not-for-profit corporation in the county for LGBTQ businesses. With membership on the rise, the Chamber's mission is to promote a unified and thriving, gay and gay-friendly, business and professional community throughout Miami-Dade County. Its goals are to promote networking within the existing gay and gay-friendly business and professional community, to promote business opportunities for Chamber members, to promote Miami as a year-round, gay and gay-friendly tourist destination, to provide resources for its members, and to provide outreach from the LGBTQ community to other organizations.