CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A local LGBT business group will host its annual awards dinner on Nov. 8, awarding two local attorneys who have worked with LGBT clients and a longtime community leader, among others.

The Charlotte Business Guild hosts its “Giving Gala” at Label, 900 NC Music Factory Blvd., on Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m. A cocktail hour will be followed by dinner and awards at 7:30 p.m. Tickets begin at $70 for members and $85 for non-members and are available online.

The group, which bills itself Charlotte’s LGBT chamber of commerce, will present Professional of the Year awards to Sarah Demarest and Kelly Durden, formerly of the now-closed LGBTQ Law Center. Their legal practice offered services to low-income and other marginalized LGBT people. Last year, the two attorneys handled nearly 300 individual cases. They also held several legal clinics and workshops across the state.

Frank Kalian, a longtime guild board member, will also be awarded for his years of service to the community. He’ll receive the Teresa L. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award, named after its first recipient. Kalian, owner of the Sir Speedy on Caswell Rd., has long supported and sponsored a number of local community organizations. He has also provided printing and other services for free or at discounted rates. He has served on the boards of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, Prime Timers of Charlotte and the Charlotte Business Guild.

The Entrepreneur of the Year award will go to Sarah Kelley, owner of EagleSpeak Coffeehouse. The South Blvd. business has been a popular place for some LGBT groups and meet-ups to hang out and Kelly has been a supporter of the guild.

The guild will also award Fifth Third Bank with its Corporation of the Year award. The McColl Center for Art + Innovation will be honored with a non-profit award.

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham will receive the group’s Bridge Builder award.

The guild’s annual awards have a long history. Originally called the Community Service Award, the first honor was presented by a Charlotte Pride organizing committee in 1993 to Don King, long-time Charlotte Observer employee and community advocate. The awards were renamed in his honor in 1994.

Emceeing the event is Jessy Miličević, a local TV news reporter. Special guests include Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro and Charlotte City Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

One reply on “Guild gala to award attorneys, longtime leader”

  1. I’m glad that Frank is getting this recognition he has helped me on several demonstrations and he was a big part of me being elected to the DNC as a delegate thank you Frank

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