More than 500 guests are expected to be in attendance to pay tribute to four honorees selected for their long-term commitment to fostering diversity and their contribution to the overall well-being and quality of life in South Florida.
Jorge Richa has been the marketing and programming director for the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for more than a decade, a meaningful milestone, but only half as long as the organization has been in business. Jorge doesn’t mind because he’s too busy putting the final touches on the “20th Anniversary Celebration: The Platinum Gala,” May 18 at the Hilton Miami Downtown.
“This is a different type of gala,” Richasaid. “We want people to interact, meet prospects, engage with new people and network.”
The main ballroom will be set up so people easily feel comfortable meeting new people, shaking hands and — yes, as crass as it may appear — exchanging business cards. Since platinum represents 20 years of marriage, attendees are encouraged to wear platinum to the gala.
The MDGLCC is the largest not-for-profit corporation in Miami-Dade county for gay and lesbian businesses. Nearly 600 companies and businesses represent more than 1,200 chamber members. The mission is to promote a unified, thriving, gay/gay-friendly business and professional community, providing resources for members and outreach to other organizations.
Things were much different two decades ago when the first seeds of creating a bigger organization began to create buzz. The South Beach Business Guild, founded in 1992, developed gay and gay-friendly businesses on South Beach, while the Miami Network, a private organization, focused on involving LGBT business leaders.
By 1999, the two organizations began talking merger, and soon—with one part improvise and one part compromise— the “Miami-Dade and South Beach Business Guild” was born. By 2002, the name was changed to the current “Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.”
And that’s one reason why there won’t be any entertainment at the Gala. All the hard work over the last 20 years has been aimed at promoting gay and gay-friendly businesses, reaching out to other organizations, and providing resources and business opportunities to members, according to Richa. “The event reflects our society as it is today. Business people want to showcase their products and sell to the LGBT community.”
And while the Gala is a core networking event, the evening will have many surprises for a fun and memorable experience. “We’ll have a lot of activities going on throughout the evening,” Richa said. “Twenty companies will be representing themselves and drawing attention with ‘interactive pop-up’ stands, giving the expected crowd a chance to engage with vendors before heading off to the main event.
The Gala will also honor several businesses and individuals who have been significant supporters of LGBT organizations and causes in South Florida.
- AT&T Business of the Year Award: NBC 6
- The Regions Business Persons of the Year Award: Bertha Galindo-Crucet & Kevin Walsh
- Morgan Stanley/Bob Balsam Civic Achievement Award: Michael Bath
“These honorees have made significant contributions to the community and the MDGLCC. NBC 6 promotes many of our events on programs like 6 on the Mix and NBC Pride. Recognizing their efforts has been long overdue,” Richa said. “Bertha Galindo-Crucet and Kevin Walsh have been very active in the Chamber the last two years and have been instrumental in developing Marriott’s ‘One’ program, a voice for LGBTQ associates at other companies and other Marriott properties. Michael Bath will be recognized for his efforts in organizing the annual Winter Party recognition dinner, raising money that goes back into the community. He will be honored with the ‘Morgan Stanley Bob Balsam Civic Achievement Award.’"
There will definitely be something for everyone at the Gala. A Kids Play Zone, sponsored by Jackson Health, will entertain children ages 4-12 with continuous programming and activities. Parents can check in while kids are being entertained.
After the formal event, at 10 p.m., there will be a Midnight Networking Party and dancing, with Bacardi providing spirits, just one more way to network and engage with other businesses.
So, bring your business cards, your dancing shoes, and a good appetite. Richa said tickets are going fast, so don’t wait until the last minute.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce 20th Anniversary Annual Awards Celebration: “The Platinum Gala,” Presented by Wells Fargo. Honoring corporate and individual supporters of the Miami-Dade LGBT community.
WHERE: Hilton Miami Downtown.1601 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132
WHO: “AT&T Business of the Year Award” /NBC 6 South Florida
“Regions Business Persons of the Year Award”/Bertha Galindo-Crucet & Kevin Walsh
“Morgan Stanley Bob Balsam Civic Achievement Award”/Michael Bath
WHEN: Saturday, May 18th, 2019
6:00 p.m. – Cocktail Reception, Silent Auction, & Interactive Pop-Ups
7:30 p.m. – Grand Buffet
9:00 p.m. – Awards Celebration
10:00 p.m. – Moonlight Networking
FOR TICKETS: Call 305.673.4440 or www.gaybizmiami.com
Table of 10: $2,200
Popups : $1,200 (includes two admissions to event)
Other Sponsors & Partners: AT&T, Regions, Morgan Stanley, Bacardi, Downtown Flowers, Prestige AV & Creative Services, GMCVB, American Airlines, GALRDON, Miami Herald, Cox Media Group, WIREMAG, SFGN, HotSpots, Mark’s List. Complimentary Kids PlayZone (ages 4-12) courtesy of Jackson Health System.