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The Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber Of Commerce (MDGLCC) will honor corporate and individual supporters of the Miami-Dade LGBT community at its 13th annual gala and awards presentation, “The Emerald Gala,” on Saturday, June 21, at the Hilton Miami Downtown Hotel (1601 Biscayne Blvd.). The honorees were selected for their long-term commitment to fostering diversity, as well as for their efforts in contributing to the overall quality of life in South Florida.  This year’s gala will once again be presented by Wells Fargo.

“Our annual gala is the networking event of the year,” said Steve Adkins, MDGLCC president. “Six hundred people just get to have a lot of fun in the process. As the voice of the LGBT business community in Miami-Dade, the Chamber is especially proud to have such an accomplished and extraordinary group to recognize this year.”

The 2014 Honorees:

Regions Bank “Business of the Year”: Office Depot Foundationemerald_wong
Mary Wong, president, accepting

This award is presented annually to an organization whose commitment to diversity is unwavering in its inclusion of LGBT and allied community issues.
“As our longest-standing Corporate Partner Member of the Chamber, we are proud to honor Office Depot for our ‘Business of the Year Award’,” Adkins said.

Born in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, the Office Depot Foundation has evolved into a multi-faceted organization with a vital mission – “Listen. Learn. Care.” For 2013 to 2018, the Office Depot Foundation’s strategic priorities are known collectively as “The Caring Agenda.” This Agenda includes: giving children the tools they need to succeed in school and in life; building the capacity of non-profit organizations through collaboration and innovation; and helping communities prepare for disasters, as well as recovering and rebuilding afterwards.

Morgan Stanley “Business Person of the Year”: Craig Smith, Source Eventsemerald_craig
Craig Smith, president and founder, accepting

This award is given annually to an individual who embraces diversity in all forms and demonstrates savvy business acumen and leadership skills.
“As a successful business owner and producer of the Miami Beach Gay Pride Cruise, as well as many international adventures for the mind, body and spirit, we are honored to recognize Craig as the Chamber’s ‘Business Person of the Year’,” said Jorge Richa, MDGLCC marketing and programming director.

Smith is president and founder of Source Events, an international travel an event company, which creates customized cruises and exotic adventures around the world for the LGBT community and allies. With an entrepreneur’s energy, vision and passion, he has grown Source Events into one of the world’s leading travel companies for the LGBT community.

Under Smith’s leadership, 2014 is Source Event’s most successful year to date, with cruises in the Caribbean, Greek Islands and Tahiti, along with exotic adventures in Africa and New Zealand. In 2010, Source Events began the Miami Pride Cruise, which for the past five years has donated a portion of the proceeds to the Miami Beach Gay Pride organization. Additionally, Source Events has produced events for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Maui AIDS Foundation, and has donated cruises to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

AT&T “Non-Profit Organization of the Year”: National Gay and Lesbian Task Forceemerald_russell
Russell Roybal, deputy executive director, accepting

This award is given annually to a non-profit organization whose philosophy embodies the highest standards of outreach to the LGBT and allied communities.
“The Task Force continues to be the beacon of equality for LGBTQ rights and it is with pleasure that we honor them with this much-deserved award,” said Scott Bader, MDGLCC chairman of membership.

From its inception in 1973 with a Jesuit priest among its founders to leading the charge for marriage equality today, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been a catalyst on the forefront of every progressive LGBT development for four decades. With the organization’s 40th anniversary in 2013, the list of historical accomplishments is long, and the impact the nation’s oldest LGBT advocacy group has had – and continues to have – is extraordinarily significant.

Locally, a significant amount of the proceeds from the annual Winter Party Festival and Miami Recognition Dinner go to support multiple grassroots organizations through grants administered by the GLBT Community Projects Fund of The Miami Foundation. Over the years, these proceeds have contributed approximately $1.65 million to South Florida LGBT organizations. The remaining proceeds from these two events support the work of the Task Force on a national level to build power, take action and create positive, lasting change for LGBT people and their families.

For the past several years, the MDGLCC Gala Committee has selected a different color of the rainbow flag for the gala’s theme and has encouraged attendees to wear a splash of that color to the event. Beginning this year, the gala elevates the status of the color theme by interpreting the rainbow colors in their gem stone complement. The 2014 emerald theme signifies growth, prosperity and renewal.

The 13th Annual Gala and Awards Presentation, “The Emerald Gala,” presented by Wells Fargo,” starts at 6 p.m. with a reception and silent auction which will be followed by dinner, the awards presentation and an after party dance. Performing at the nightclub-themed after party will be the winner of the LGBT Visitor Center’s Pink Flamingo Awards “Favorite Drag Queen” Tiffany Fantasia.

All tickets to “The Emerald Gala” are VIP this year, Adkins said. Tickets are $2,000 for tables of 10 or $200 for individual tickets and include reserved seating, grand buffet dinner, an open bar featuring Bacardi Brands’ Grey Goose vodka among others, a VIP gift bag, complimentary parking and participation in the grand raffle for a trip for two and four nights hotel stay in the beautiful island of Curaçao, courtesy of the Curaçao Tourist Board. Reservations are available online at gaybizgala.com, or by calling (305) 673-4440.

“The Emerald Gala” is produced by the MDGLCC and, as the organization’s principal fundraising effort of the year, helps sustain operations and expand the ever-increasing demand for member programming. The presenting sponsor for the gala is Wells Fargo with additional sponsorship support from Regions Bank, Morgan Stanley, AT&T, Grey Goose Vodka, Barefoot emerald_yellowWine & Bubbly, Prestige AV & Creative Services, Bromstad for Naturalizer, PortMiami, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, roots & roots, American Airlines, Hilton Miami Downtown, Resorts World Miami, Mercedes Benz of Coral Gables, Centerplate, The Murry Agency Public Relations and LGBT Creative.  Media partners are Miami Herald, South Florida Gay News, Wire Magazine, She Magazine, Genre Latino, HotSpots, Mark’s List, 93.9 MIA, Y100 and Classical South Florida 89.7.

MDGLCC is the largest not-for-profit corporation in the county for LGBT businesses. With membership on the rise, the Chamber’s mission is to promote a unified and thriving, gay andemerald_last gay-friendly, business and professional community throughout Miami-Dade County. Its goals are to promote networking within the existing gay and gay-friendly business and professional community, to promote business opportunities for Chamber members, to promote Miami as a year-round, gay and gay-friendly tourist destination, to provide resources for its members, and to provide outreach from the LGBT community to other organizations.

http://www.gaybizgala.com/

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.