The Key West Business Guild introduced new Board officers, newly-elected Board members and annual award winners at its “State of the Guild Luncheon” earlier this month at the Reach Resort.

Former Board President, Todd German, handed over the Guild gavel to newly elected Board President, Carl Stevens of Horan, Wallace and Higgins.  Other officers of the Board include Vice President Denis Hostler of Ad Guardian Litem, Treasurer Vanessa McCaffrey of Vacation Key West, and Secretary Betsy Langan of Womankind.

Newly elected Board members include Tonya Parks of the Key West Citizen, Justin Seguin of Protection Plus, and Kaleb Smith of the Island House.  Returning Board members are Todd German of Centennial Bank, Carrie Babich of the Southernmost Hotel Collection, Steve Burress of Old Town Trolley and Dan Skahen of Evolution and Preferred Properties.

Key West Mayor Craig Cates presided at the swearing in of the Guild Board officers and newly elected Board members.

Executive Director Guy Ross offered a presentation overview of the past year and the outlook for next year at the Guild.  The presentation centered on the continuing relevance of the Guild, its accomplishments, challenges and opportunities going forward.

The Board of Directors elected to bestow three annual awards on four notable recipients for 2013.  Receiving accolades this year for service, support and advocacy were the following honorees:

The Key West Business Guild Outstanding Citizen Award is presented each year to honor key leaders in Key West who work to nurture and support the LGBT community on the island.  This year the Outstanding Citizen Award 2013 was given with gratitude to George Fernandez and Sam Trophia of the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.                                                                                                                                  

The Richard Heyman Award 2013 is named in honor of Key West’s first openly gay mayor and one of the very first gay mayors in the country.  The award is presented each year by the Board of Directors to honor LGBT advocacy and leadership in the public sector.  This year the Board unanimously voted to give the award to Mayor Craig Cates for his continued generous support and promotion of Gay Key West.

The Walt Marlowe Award 2013 is named for one of the founding members of the Key West Business Guild and is given to key community leaders who work to promote LGBT tourism and preserve LGBT life on the island.  The Board of Directors voted to bestow this year’s award to the former Executive Director of the Business Guild, Rebecca Tomlinson, Museum Director at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

The Key West Business Guild was established in 1978 when a small group of gay guesthouse owners got together and formed an organization to promote Key West as a major gay tourist destination.  Thirty-five years later the Key West Business Guild with its 470 active members still works to promote, protect and preserve the LGBT community here on the island.  With seven signature events planned for 2014 including Key West Pride, Tropical Heat and Womenfest the Key West Business Guild continues to reach out to LGBT tourists worldwide and show that Key West truly lives by its motto—One Human Family!