Last month, the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrated the holiday season in festive style, as well as conducted its final business of the calendar year with its sold out “Shimmer, Shine & Success!” event held at The Westin. The event was also graced by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper who spoke to those in attendance about his administration and his views about the LGBTQ business community.

Cooper reflected on the damage that HB2/HB142 did to the reputation of the state and vowed to heal those wounds and bring North Carolina back to a position of respect globally.

“The HB2 repeal was an important first step in fighting discrimination and making sure the nation knows that North Carolina is open for business,” Cooper said. “I know there is more work to do and that’s why I issued a comprehensive anti-discrimination executive order [Executive Order 24] and why I continue to support statewide anti-discrimination laws. Breaking the legislative supermajorities in November was another step forward and now we must work together to create good jobs, improve education and opportunity, protect the rights of all North Carolinians, and make our state an even better place to call home.”

He also provided statistics on the value and worth of the LGBTQ business community.

Cooper spent time during the welcome reception speaking with constituents and engaging in photo ops with attendees. He had been in Charlotte on other business and wanted to spend time with the chamber’s members and guests before he returned to Raleigh, N.C. that evening. The Board of Directors invited various elected officials, as they do annually, to the event.

After the reception, the doors opened to the ballroom where a buffet dinner was served by hotel staff and music played during the holiday party. Attendees were decked out in everything from business attire to tuxedo jackets. One attendee even had on a Christmas tie and suit. There was no shortage on merriment.

Attendees were welcomed by Jessy Miličević who served as MC for the evening’s program. She recognized the event partners and sponsors. She turned the podium over to Ciara Lilly, chair of LGBTBE Certification & Supplier Diversity, who shared the names of those who had received certification in 2018. Recipients were CLT Geek Inc., Higher Ground Consulting Group LLC, Miles Enterprise Solutions, Styles by Joshua, Susan Brittain Consulting, Your Custom Catering & Events, Praelisus, Uroboros Mediations, LLC and Create-ster Marketing.

The keynote address was given by Equality North Carolina Executive Director Kendra Johnson whose words included how happy she was to be in North Carolina and doing the work she was called to do.

The major portion of the event was the presentation of the chamber’s annual awards. Receiving honors were: Wells Fargo, Corporate Partner of the Year, accepted by Brian Adcox (presented by Jason Morton, chair, Membership Experience); Charlotte Business Resources, Non-Profit of the Year, accepted by Mayor Vy Lyles and Christi Floyd, director (presented by Jeff Dineo, LGBTBE Certification & Supplier Diversity; Praesulis, LGBTQ Business of the Year, accepted by owner Paul Kelly (presented by Lilly); Matt Stone, Matt Stone Real Estate owner, LGBTQ Professional of the Year (presented by Bryan VanHuystee, treasurer); Lilly, Higher Ground Consulting owner, Emerging Entrepreneur (presented by Natasha Tutt, LGBTBE Certification & Supplier Diversity); Rubie Britt-Height, Mint Museum director of communications, Advocate of the Year (presented by Erin Barbee, Public Relations & Advocacy); Jen Carbuto, Intrigue Graphics art director, Ally of the Year (presented by Turner); Barbee, Aldersgate Senior Living Community, director of Mission Advancement, (Community) Leaders That Inspire, for her work with the elderly, housing and equity (presented by Nate Turner, chair, Events & Programs); Pat Cotham, (Ally) Leaders that Inspire, accepted by Charlotte City Councilmember LaWaya Mayfied (Cotham was in a commission meeting and was unable to make it to the event. She received the award for her work with the homeless and victims of violence.) (presented by Tutt); Allyson Siegel, Tru-Pak president, Donaldson J. King Impact Award (presented by Turner); and Dianna Ward, Charlotte NC Tours owner and Charotte B-Cycle executive director, Teresa L. Davis Legacy Award (presented by Davis, a past president).

The second keynote of the evening was presented by Charlotte Center City Partners COO Moira Quinn, who praised the community and brought some anecdotes about her work experience to the program.

Intermittently throughout the proceedings, raffle drawings were held, with baskets and goodies contributed from sponsors and community partners. The evening was capped off with a multi-flavored cake for dessert, as well as attendees taking to the dance floor for some fun and camaraderie.

Sponsors for “Shimmer” were Wells Fargo, Tru-Pak Moving Systems, Nestlewood Realty and The Westin. Other sponsors and partners recognized were Amélie’s, PGA, AT&T, Resident Culture Brewing Company, T-Mobile, SunTrust, Aldersgate, JHG Financial, and qnotes.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.