CEO and president of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Chad Turner

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At the 2020 Annual Meeting the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 15, it was announced that after serving three terms as president, Chad Turner was unanimously selected as the chamber’s first staff member in the role of chief executive officer.

As the newly hired CEO, Turner, who has been a business consultant and human resources professional during his career, is tasked with managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, and development of community and corporate relationships to foster continued and sustainable growth, the organization said. “The chamber has experienced exponential growth under his leadership as president and he and the new chair will work in tandem to see the organization to the next level. By establishing a president/CEO of our chamber, we are letting the community know that we are invested in the long future of this organization” said Erin Barbee, director of Public Policy and Advocacy.

Also, the chamber announced that Ciara Lilly was appointed as chair of the Board of Directors, after serving two terms as vice president and director of Supplier Diversity and Certification. In her new role, Lilly will oversee the board of directors, set the agenda and continue managing the supplier diversity and certification program. “The wealth of knowledge and experience that she brings to this role will enhance the overall mission of the organization as the chamber continues to grow,” the organization shared.

In addition, Tiffany Keaton from TIAA was elected as the vice chair for Internal Affairs, Jennifer Carbuto from Jen Carbuto Designs was re-elected as vice chair for External Affairs, Bryan VanHuystee of Chase Bank was re-elected as director of Finance and at-large board members elected included Rosa Berger from Fifth Third Bank, Bryan Segers from First Citizens Bank, Dawn Pugh from Dawn Pugh Team Realty and Jade Reese from Jade Reese, LLC.

Others serving the organization are: Xzaviar Boston, director of Communications; Jason Morton, director of Education and Programs; Becky Knight, director of Education and Programs; Gabby Staskiewicz and Rosa Berger, directors of workingOUT (BRG/ERG/Affinity Groups); Cristal Robinson, director of Advocacy and Policy; and Nate Turner, director of LGBTE® Certification and Supplier Diversity.

The chamber board also announced that on Jan. 1, 2020 they will open their offices in Southend in the newly-renovated Hearts Beat as One Foundation building. The offices will be open Monday through Friday and offers meeting and office space as well as parking and access to a board room and networking area. In his new role, Turner will be working in a “part-time position currently, with full-time hours” as he grows into his new responsibilities.

The upcoming year marks the second year of a two-year planning project for regionalizing the chamber. The chamber will begin building chapters in the Blue Ridge (Asheville), Triad (Winston-Salem, High Point), South Carolina (Rock Hill/Fort Mill, Charleston and Columbia) and possibly more. “Each will have a leadership team and a liaison to our board as we build out this regional version,” Turner stated. The move will expand membership and offer greater opportunities for corporate partners to access LGBTBE® Certified businesses for procurement. There are no plans at present to move into the “vibrant and engaged” Raleigh Chamber and the eastern section of the state as the Raleigh Chamber will continue to service those areas, Turner said.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Ciara’s caliber and experience to lead our board,” said Turner. “We are at a critical moment and we need dynamic leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Ciara is a supplier diversity visionary with a proven track record of success. She is a powerful communicator who is member focused and outcomes driven. Furthermore, as CEO I look forward to working with her and charting the course for a vibrant and robust chamber that is game changing for our small businesses, professionals and community.” He also shared, “Our public policy and advocacy directors will be working with elected officials to see LGBTQ-owned businesses gaining access to the city and county supplier diversity programs … growing our base of LGBT Business Enterprises through certification and training to provide better opportunities for contracting.”

Turner added, “I am honored and excited to lead an organization that places diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of all we do. We have built a chamber that every person can be proud of. I believe the LGBT Chamber matters — it matters to Charlotte, North Carolina and the broader LGBTQ community.”

He also shared what he wants to see in the future.

“I have more than 15 years of executive human resources and non-profit experience. I believe that the work and the successes over the past few years in member and corporate growth will continue and only be enhanced as we move forward with a staff person focusing on the day to day.”

Speaking on behalf of the board while making the announcement about Turner’s hiring, Lilly said, “Not only does Chad have a proven track record of success but, he just gets it. He understands that we need to invest in our businesses and the people. He understands that the work we do now lays the foundation for LGBTQ individuals and allies for generations to come.” Turner was a previous qnotes Person of the Year in 2015.

She continued, “I have witnessed the progressive growth of our organization and could not be prouder of what we have accomplished. Together with our dynamic board, and Chad’s sound leadership, I look forward to serving as board chair and playing a supporting role in the continued success of the organization. This is a significant moment in the history of our organization; a moment that is truly indicative of the great things that lie ahead.”


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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.