Diamond Awards set to launch a huge year for the TBGLCC

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tampa – Get your formal attire to the cleaners because the Tampa Bay Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce are honoring the community once again at the second annual Diamond Awards at the Tampa Garden Club Jan. 16.

“It’s a celebration of the continued diversity in the Tampa Bay area, or the growing diversity as we call it,” says Ashley Brundage, TBGLCC President and nominee for Business Person of the Year. “This is where we will celebrate the best in business and the best in the community.”

The community was given the opportunity in 2015 to nominate any person, business or organization in one of four categories. Once the votes were tallied, the TBGLCC members voted which of the finalists would be the winner.

In the category of Business of the Year, the nominees are The Hotchkiss Group, NY Massage Inc., PNC Bank, Russell Property Group and Safer Dining.

Nominated along with Brundage for Business Person of the Year are Larry Biddle, Saralee Fackleman, Sharon Herman and Sonny Hotchkiss.

Non-Profit Business of the Year nominees are Equality Florida, Francis House, Keep St. Pete Lit, Metro Wellness & Community Centers and Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

The nominees for the Community Champion of the Year are Kevin Beckner, Bob Buckhorn, Steve Kornell, Lisa Montelione and Darden Rice.

“We are going to have a fully produced award show,” Brundage says.“There will be entertainment, a catered meal, VIP sponsor reception. We have Jennifer Real performing and the previous year’s winners will be in attendance to present the awards to this year’s winners, so it should be a lot of fun.”

Along with the prestige and pageantry of a top-of-the-line award show, the chamber will also be inviting some students from their mentorship program.

“Through a partnership with Balance Tampa Bay, we formed a mentorship program in 2015 where we mentor LGBTA students and youth in the community,” Brundage says.“We host a monthly mentorship mixer where we pair students with a mentor in a field they are interested in to get them more involved in the community and to learn what it is we do. Students who get involved in that program earn points, both by volunteering in the community and meeting with their mentor.”

The top five students will be in attendance as personal guests of the TBGLCC.

The Diamond Awards is only the first event for the TBGLCC in 2016.

“We will be launching the first in what will be an annual chamber luncheon on April 7 at the Tampa Club,” Brundage says. “So beautiful view, amazing food. Tickets are only $35 for members. Obviously we are going to continue this strong growth in our membership, we have our annual membership drive going on right now. We also have the mentorship program that we will be looking to grow this year.”

To purchase tickets for the Diamond Awards or to find out more information on future TBGLCC events, visit TBGLCC.org.

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