The woman who sparked a local and national debate on workplace discrimination and helped change a private school’s discrimination policy has been hired as the first ever executive director of the Nashville GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) Chamber of Commerce.
Lisa Howe, a former soccer coach at Belmont University, was vaulted into the national spotlight after she came out at Belmont to share with her team that her partner, Wendy Holleman, was due to have a baby. A week later she left her job. Initially the school announced Howe’s resignation. A day later, Belmont changed its tune, saying the two parties reached a mutual agreement to end Howe’s employment there. Soon after, amid much controversy, Belmont President Bob Fisher announced the school had added sexual orientation to its discrimination policy. There was also a push for a Metro Nashville ordinance that would require any company or business that contracted with Metro government — including Belmont — to have in place an antidiscrimination policy that includes gays and lesbians. The bill ultimately passed, but the state legislature and Gov. Bill Haslam overturned it.
"Lisa Howe knows first-hand how it is to come out in the work place and suffer discrimination because of sexual orientation,” said Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce President Michael Fluck. “After a national search we are pleased to announce that she is the first ever full time executive director for the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce. She has a passion for workplace equality that can’t be matched and is the perfect fit as our new executive director.”Fluck said Howe not only had the management skills to run the chamber, but her qualities as a former coach would prove invaluable in moving the NGLBTCC forward.
“In her six years at Belmont, Howe turned a losing team into Atlantic Sun Conference champions and was named conference Coach of the Year in 2009,” Fluck said.Howe said that she knew this was the right position when she saw it advertised. After her separation with Belmont, she said she knew she wanted to be an advocate for work place equality.
“The Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce executive director position was the perfect job to fulfill my goals and vision,” she said.
Howe started her new job on Feb. 1. Her responsibilities include oversight and management of day-to-day operations; membership recruitment and retention; corporate partnership development; calendar development; recruitment and oversight of volunteers and the development and execution of an annual fundraiser.
Since the Belmont incident Howe has spoken to dozens of media outlets about being a gay Christian, coming out, and equality. About The NGLBTCC:
The Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to economic growth and cultural discoveries for the GLBT community in the Nashville area. We offer educational programming to improve our skills in the business environment and extend networking opportunities to grow our companies within and outside our community.
The NGLBTCC has more than 125 members, made up of individuals, small businesses and large corporations. For more information visit www.nglbtcc.org .