The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce has announced finalists in seven categories for its annual Excellence in Business Awards. Winners will be announced at the event on April 13.
According to the chamber, more than 80 nominations were submitted. From that list, over sixty completed questionnaires describing their accomplishments over the last twelve months. Questionnaires were scored by an awards committee made up of a diverse group of LGBT Chamber members and former award winners. Every LGBT Chamber member can vote for one finalist in each category to add to the current score of each finalist.
“I continue to be amazed and inspired by the talent, passion, and success of our finalists,” said Chamber Executive Director Lisa Howe. “Not only do the nominees help empower the LGBT community, they also significantly contribute to the Nashville economy. The Excellence in Business Awards is a unique, professional, daytime event like no other in the LGBT and ally community. I look forward to honoring and recognizing the economic and social impact made by the finalists and award winners. I thank the sponsors and teams of volunteers who make this event possible and successful.”
The 2016 Excellence in Business Awards will take place on Wednesday April 13 in the midday, from 11am to 1pm, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown. Over 300 business and community leaders, allies, and LGBTfriendly businesses will convene at this high profile lunch event, to celebrate and recognize the finalists who were selected for their contributions to Nashville's inclusive business and nonprofit communities.
2016 Excellence in Business Awards finalists
The Corporate Diversity Award goes to a company who has policies and practices that protect and engage their LGBT employees, customers, and suppliers. Finalists actively contribute to LGBT nonprofit organizations and causes. 2015 Winner: Fifth Third Bank
● Baker Donelson
● Cracker Barrel
● Cummins, Inc.
Small Business Diversity
The Small Business Diversity Award goes to a company who has reasonable policies and practices that protect and engage their LGBT employees. Finalists actively contribute to LGBT nonprofit organizations and causes. 2015 Winner: Emma
● ALT Travel
● Parachute Media
Maria M Salas Entrepreneur of the Year
The Entrepreneur of the Year is presented to a business owner who identifies as LGBT. The candidate has increased outcomes over the last twelve months. 2015 Winner: Bruce Pittman, Bruce Pittman, Inc.
● Phil Cobucci, BAM! Social Business
● Jack Davis, JD Events and Festivals
● John Dyke, The Turnip Truck
● Dale Levitski, Sinema and The Hook
Samuel L Felker Business Leader of the Year
The Business Leader of the Year is someone who identifies as LGBT and has an employer. The candidate should show measured business success over the last year. 2015 Winner: David Brzozowski, Dollar General
● William Bullens, Associate Director of Sales/Director of Entertainment Sales, Sheraton Nashville Downtown
● Steve Smotherman, Management Training and Development, Cracker Barrel
● Hon. Nancy VanReece, COO, Parachute Media Co.
● Paul Vasterling, Artistic Director and CEO, Nashville Ballet
The Ally Award is presented to someone who does not identify as LGBT and has shown a commitment to helping the LGBT community, whether it be through donations of money, time, leadership, and other types of support. 2015 Winner: Mayor Megan Barry
● Claudia Huskey, Senior Advisor, Office of Mayor Megan Barry
● Patrick Luther, Chief Program Office, Nashville CARES
● Amy Parker, Background Investigation Specialist, Deloitte Services, LP
● Erica Rains, CEO, The Chef and I
Mark Lee Taylor Community Service Award
The Community Service Award is given to an individual who identifies as LGBT or an organization which caters specifically to the LGBT community. 2015 Winner: Marisa Richmond, Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition
● Jeffery Humble, HRC Federal Club CoChair
● Mac, Mac Productions/L.A. Security Inc.
● Scott Ridgway, Executive Director, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network
● Jim Schmidt, President, Schmidt Government Solutions, LLC
Leadership in the Arts Award
The Leadership in the Arts Award is given to an individual who identifies as LGBT or an organization who, over the past year, has demonstrated a commitment to LGBT equality in their performance topics, performers, staff, audiences, policies, and more. 2015 Winner: Nashville Opera Association
● Belcourt Theatre
● Nashville Ballet
● Nashville Opera Association
● OZ Arts Nashville