Chamber’s Diamond Gala expands, adds after party

By : Staff Report
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Clearwater – Business owners, community leaders and elected officials will all be on tap Jan. 17 during the Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Diamond Awards Gala. The dinner ceremony will be at the Holiday Inn on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater and will have a much different feel than the organization’s regular dinner meetings held on both sides of the bay throughout the year.

“The purpose is to have an exciting celebratory event to recognize the community leaders and the businesses that have made such an impact on the community,” said Ashley Brundage, vice president of the TBGLCC and the organizer of the gala.

The night begins at 7 p.m. when the silent auction tables open. At 7:30 p.m., the main room will open before the actual awards banquet starts at 7:45 p.m.

“We have a multitude of stuff going on,” Brundage explained. “We’ll have food laid out beforehand and then some speakers—an introduction and a few sponsors. Then we’ll roll into one of the awards before we start dinner.”

There will be live music throughout the night featuring Amy Vickery and Johnny D. Freedom.

“This is a first for us,” Brundage said. “We don’t typically incorporate live music into our events so that’s exciting.

Vickery has made music for 25 years and describes her sound as Indie-folk rock mixed with acoustic covers. Freedom has been performing since he was 10 years old and currently lives in Jacksonville.

There will also be a DJ on site to provide dance music as well.

“There are four awards total,” Brundage said. “And we’ll present them throughout the evening.”

In the Non-Profit Business of the Year category, CASA, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Love the Golden Rule Inc., Metro Wellness and the Suncoast Softball League are all up for the award.

Business of the Year nominees include Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Georgie’s Alibi, PNC Bank, The Hotchkiss Group of Keller Williams and Watermark Media Inc.

There are also five nominees for the title of Community Champion of the Year. That category includes Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Mark Bias and Carrie West of Tampa Pride and the GaYbor Coalition, and Joy Winheim, the executive director of the Francis House.

The final category for a diamond award is the LGBT Business Person of the Year. in that category, nominees are Watermark editor Steve Blanchard, HI Development general manager Kim Cason, Brandon Family Law managing attorney Mary Greenwood, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt COO Annie Hoitis and PNC Bank senior vice president Dianne Jacob.

The evening should be over by 10:30 p.m., but Brundage said that an official after party is slated for Quench Lounge just a mile or so away.

“We wanted to be able to have the fun night continue,” she said. “So anyone who brings their dining dinner ticket to Quench will get their first drink free.”
Preferred attire is “cocktail party or better,” Brundage added.

For more information on the chamber, visit

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