Tampa Bay Business Journal Honors Tampa Area LGBT Leaders and Allies

Tampa Bay Business Journal

The Tampa Bay Business Journal honored 22 individuals and companies at The Business of Pride event on June 22nd at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman provided the opening remarks to set the tone for the evening. “We want the sun to shine on all of us. No matter who we are. No matter who we love.”

Kriseman celebrated the city’s perfect score of 100 for HRC’s Municipal Equality Index two years in a row. “We are doing the right thing for our LGBT community and economy. Our pride in our LGBT community is just good business.”

Tampa Bay Business Journal
Kevin Beckner speaks at the TBBJ Business of Pride Award event. (Image courtesy of TBBJ)

Director of the HCCSB and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner shared his own message with attendees. “The meaning of pride has evolved over time. You had all of the prides and gay days. Pride was much more than a party. Pride was about being able to love and accept yourself and others. There are so many individuals who don’t love and accept themselves for who they are. Pride is so much more than a party. It’s a matter of personal responsibility.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Beckner, who came out 25 years ago, lead the commission to remove the ban on gay pride recognition in Hillsborough County back in 2013.

Tampa Bay Business Journal
Jane Castor received a round of applause at the TBBJ Business of Pride Event. (Image courtesy of TBBJ)

Jane Castor, former Chief of Police for the city of Tampa, received a huge round of applause as she took the podium. “We are all a sum of our life experience,” she began. “To bring those different opinions and experiences to the table in business decisions is very important. Diversity is incredibly important. I believe we do a fine job of embracing it in the Tampa Bay Area.”

Tech Data EVP/CIO John Tonnison showed great pride in his company, who has remained at the top of the HRC CEI for 12 years running. “We are doing work in Tallahassee advocating for LGBT rights.”

“We raised the pride flag over our worldwide headquarters, standing in fierce support of our ERG pride group who will march 250 strong in Saturday’s pride march,” Tonnison said amid cheers and applause.

Tampa Bay Business Journal
Nearly 250 people attended the Business of Pride Award Event. (Image courtesy of TBBJ)

The most humorous of the evening’s remarks came from Divorce Attorney Michael Lundy, a partner of Older, Lundy & Alvarez. “You’ve had a county commissioner, chief of police and mayor. And now you get a lawyer…and I’m not gay.”

Lundy went on to share his history with advocacy work as an ally. “Where we work and where we live – this is one community. Our community. We are not here for a business reason. This is something we believe in.”

Individual “Outstanding Voices” honorees included Jason Bagwell of Priority One Financial Services, Nathan Bruemmer with TransAction Florida, Chrys Bundy with Tech Data Corp, Stan Duncan with Raymond James, Damien McKinney with The McKinney Law Group, Scott Skyberg with Skyber Consulting, City of Largo Commissioner Michael Smith, and Carrie West of Tampa Pride Inc.

Tampa Bay Business Journal
Bruemmer shakes hand with fellow award winners and event attendees. (Image courtesy of TBBJ)

Individual “Allies” honorees included Kelly Flannery of the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, District 6 City of Tampa Council Member Guido Maniscalco, and Melina Scally with The Center for Psychological Growth.

Moffitt Cancer Center, PNC Financial Services Group, Smith & Associates Real Estate, USAA, and Visit St. Pete Clearwater were also honored, as were Community Tampa Bay, MD DO Associates, and The Center for Psychological Growth.

Get to know this year’s Business of Pride honorees by clicking here.

For more news in Tampa Bay, click here.

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She is the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization, and CEO of OUTCOAST, an online marketing and concierge platform marketing the Gulf Coast as an LGBTQ-inclusive place to VISIT, CELEBRATE, and LIVE.

Rachel is also an avid event photographer and has captured photos for LGBT organizations around the world, including the IGLTA, NGLCC, NLGJA, and Out & Equal.

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