Monday, December 16, 2019

Second Annual Biz Pitch Finals Competition




On Dec. 11, nglccNY hosted the final round of our second annual Biz Pitch Competition! 

Sponsored by EY, this event capped off a year of competition and allowed the winners of previous rounds to vie for top prizes including a ticket to the the 2020 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas and a full scholarship to attend the Building a High-Performing Businessprogram at Dartmouth Colleges TuckSchool of Business. 

Congratulations to the winners of the final round:

First Place: Five North Chocolate

Second Place: PILOT Coaching

Third Place: Play Out Apparel

The top finishers reacted to the news of their awards, sharing their insights about the honor and the importance of this opportunity:

Ben Conard, Founder & CEO, Five North Chocolate


First Place Winner

On winning first place:

“I am honestly really shocked. To be with so many powerful companies making huge waves in the LGBT business community, I was sure it was going to be someone else, but I'm really stoked that it was me. This competition started in January of this year, so it's humbling for me to reflect back on how much has changed in almost a full year since advancing in the first round."

 On participating in the final round:

“It’s exciting for me to see how much I've grown, but also to see how much my fellow participants have grown. I’m so grateful to be a part of this community. Having something to show for it is just icing on the cake.”

On the importance of the BizPitch:

“The BizPitch gives small companies with big visions the opportunity to share that vision with people who can actually help you make a difference. We have big goals; we have big dreams to make big waves in our own community. And to have an entity like EY helping us do that and believing in us is really powerful.”


Ben Brooks, Founder and CEO, PILOT Coaching

Second Place Winner

On winning second place:

“It's great. I funded my business with my life savings. I think as entrepreneurs, we don’t always get a lot of validation. So this is wonderful encouragement from a community that I respect and value.”

On competing:

“I think it was always a little nerve wracking to put myself out there and our company. But this is the third time I've gotten to participate in an nglccNY event and each time it puts the pressure on me to make our pitch better, to get feedback and to learn in a supportive environment. And we took the feedback. What our pitch looked like in June was very different than what it looks like here in December. And it's a credit to the feedback we got.  We acted on it and that made a big difference.”


Liz Leifer, Co-Owner and Designer, Play Out Apparel

Abby Sugar Co-Owner and Designer, Play Out Apparel

Third Place Winner

Liz on winning third place:

“It feels amazing. I'm so excited and super proud. nglccNY is such an incredible organization. It's helped us really feel supported and we've started to come into our own in the larger business community. Having access to other companies, and other founders. It's really changed the game for us.”

Abby on participating:

“It was just an incredible thing to participate in and really, really wonderful that EY volunteered their time and feedback to help us improve our business and to foster diversity and inclusion.”


Kudos to all of these outstanding entrepreneurs! We cannot wait to continue Biz Pitch in the new year!


Written by Cindi Creager, the Media & Communications Chair of the nglccNY Executive Committee and co-owner of CreagerCole Communications LLC, a New York City-based public relations firm experienced in LGBTQI issues.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Celebrating Trans Awareness Week; Reflecting on the New York Coming Out International Transgender Conference


Dr. Gennifer (Genn) Herley, PhD, describes herself as a proud transgender woman who transitioned a year and a half ago at which point she decided to pay it forward by bringing awareness to the issues facing members of the transgender and non-conforming (TGNC) community and offering guidance to individuals and their loved ones in an open and safe environment. To that end she created TransNewYork, a not-for-profit 501C3 organization that serves as an information center, providing advocacy and support services for the TGNC community.

Prior to founding and serving as executive director of TransNewYork, Dr. Herley  ran A Better Life Counseling for seven years, earning her doctorate degree in 2014. TransNewYork offers individual and group counseling as well as monthly meetings that address such issues as gender dysphoria and encourages transgender, non-binary, and non-conforming individuals to share their personal stories. The organization also offers corporate training, helping employers to better understand gender identity in the workplace and to recognize gender biases.

“We wish to be an informative source for transgender resources, activities, and events,” say Dr. Herley. “We have assembled an inspirational itinerary of supportive professionals who (address) a broad range of topics fitting the needs of our community.”

To better serve its target audience, TransNewYork launched its inaugural New York Coming Out International Transgender Conference, which Dr. Herley heralded as a beacon for the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. Held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, October 30 to November 3, 2019, the upscale event featured 100 workshops, panel discussions, a luncheon, an awards gala dinner, and a vendor room that comprised small business owners and corporate representatives alike. Keynote speakers included Sharon McBride, national press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign; Chris Bright, director of public training at the Trevor Project; and Kim Watson, co-founder of Community Kinship Life, known as CKLife.

While Dr. Herley acknowledges there have been other events throughout the city catering to the TGNC community, New York Coming Out differed in scale and scope. “Most of the conferences I attended were outside of New York and they were expansive,” explains Dr. Herely, who says she finds that many transgender people are still in the closet. “Conferences like these offer not only a safe space but also an experience that people in the transgender and gender non-conforming community would not get elsewhere. For some people it is a once a year event or once in their lifetime.”

She credits NGLCC for the overwhelming support for the New York Coming Out Conference in its maiden year. It all started at the NglccNY’s 10th anniversary gala reception which celebrated the organization as the premier LGBT business network in New York City, with over 500 members, and as the regional office of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

The event took place on October 9, 2018 at Tribeca 360. There she was greeted with a room full of LGBTQ professionals. It was the first public event Dr. Herley attended since coming out. There she met NCLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson, who personally invited her to attend the national dinner in Washington, DC. It was at that event she made an lasting connection with NglccNY member William Self of Northwell Health, who has been responsible for shepherding trans related health initiatives at New York State's largest healthcare provider and private employer.

“That was a key moment,” said Dr. Herley. “When I was thinking about coming out, I was so frightened that I would lose my entire family, my entire group of friends,” she explains. While that did not happen, she did come to the realization that even in the event that it did happen, “there was this whole other family waiting for me and that was the NGLCC. I have so much gratitude.”


In addition to securing doctors at Northwell Health to do panels and sessions at the New York Coming Out conference, Self along with other chamber members was instrumental in helping TransNewYork to hit the ground running with its first big event and to receive vital support from major corporations. New York Coming Out conference sponsors included the Grand Hyatt, Northwell Health, Mount Sinai, Macy’s, Accenture, American Airlines, and PepsiCo. While TransNew York plans to host a fundraiser awards dinner in 2020, it will push the next New York Coming Out conference to 2021.

“Events of this kind are important in providing a forum for addressing social justice topics and issues that are impacting marginalized communities,” said Ingrid Galvez, nglccNY’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair. “It is important that we make room, make space and honor everyone within our community. We need to be informed. Our community is under attack all the time,” she adds, pointing to the current atmosphere of hate and violence across the country. “People are creating this otherness as it relates to the trans community. It is everyone’s responsibility to hold each other up.”

Galvez adds that she was pleased that the New York Coming Out conference had a good representation of people of color in the room, noting that 22 trans people having been killed this year in acts of senseless violence. “As a community we need to do a better job. We need people of privilege who are in positions of power to not just be allies but to become activists,” said Galvez, who also is the co-founder of Thorp, a company that specializes in business strategies and movement consulting. “We not only need a voice, we also need to have some authority to change the narrative.”

In 2018, 26 trans people were killed, most of them trans women of color, reports the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). At least 22 trans or gender nonconforming women of color have been murdered in the United States as of November 2019. HRC says “at least” because too often these stories go unreported or misreported.

Each year, the month of November is held in special reverence for transgender and gender nonconforming communities. Between November 13 – 19, people and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and to address issues members of the community face. The date November 20 marks the annual observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance which honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

“Trans Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of RemembranceTrans are incredibly important moments. I also believe we should uplift trans lives every day, not just during November," Galvez said”



Written by Carolyn M. Brown, a journalist, author, playwright, producer, and founder of True Colors Project, a social enterprise that produces two annual events: My True Colors Excel Pride Awards and My True ColorsFestival, a multidisciplinary arts festival for and by LGBTQIAGNC+ storytellers. She is a member of the nglccNY Media and Communications Committee. @cmbrown_7

Monday, October 21, 2019

Biz Pitch Spotlight


In our third installation of the 2019 nglccNY Biz Pitch, sponsored by EY on September 24, 2019, we heard from another fantastic round of LGBTBEs. Similar to the first round held in January and the second round held in June, two of the four suppliers were selected to advance to the final round which will be held in December. The grand prize is a full scholarship to attend the “Building a High-Performing Business” program at Dartmouth College’s TuckSchool of Business.

Joining the previous winners (Translator LLC and Five North Chocolate from the first round and PILOT Coaching and Play Out Apparel from the second round) Fabio Pereira and Brandan Keaveny of Data Ethics and Jo Schneier and Doug Krehbiel of Trusty.care will be in the final competition. Both winners talked with Michael Venturiello, a member of the nglccNY Media & Communications Committee, to share their experiences. Dwayne Samuels of DS2 Corporate Relocation Services also competed in the third round of Biz Pitch.

Biz Pitch contestants and EY panel of judges and representatives pose for photo following competition.


Data Ethics, “your professional data partner,” has been certified as an LGBTBE with nglccNY since July of 2019. “The support from the Chamber is great,” Keaveny shared. “It’s the fact that there are these regular events, and not only for opportunities to network but opportunities to grow.” In recapping his experience at the most recent round of the Biz Pitch, Keaveny said that “everyone at EY was incredibly welcoming.” There was also a communal feeling in the audience and from those competing on stage. “From the previous networking events and other opportunities, it felt like you were competing with friends, not against strangers.”
Brandan Keaveny of Data Ethics.


Similarly, Trusty.care has felt the positive impacts of the Chamber within their own business. “Trusty builds health and insurance software for one of the most overlooked markets, the half of Americans that receive their insurance from government-sponsored plans,” and with diversity being a core tenant of his company, Jo Schneier really appreciates the chance to meet other diverse businesses who are committed to this practice. “I met different people who I see future partnerships evolving with through the community.” On sharing his experience with the Biz Pitch, Jo adds, “the Biz Pitch helped frame what we’re doing in a new way. It helped us see a new perspective on the business that we hadn’t seen before, which is a critical component to success.”

Winners of nglccNY Third Round of Biz Pitch pose with TJ Chernick, Executive Director.


A mutual benefit that both businesses shared was the goal of ongoing  learning and growth within their businesses. “Everyone wins just by being there,” Keaveny shared. “There is a continuous learning element, and it is just so powerful to be in a community of learners. We received expert feedback from a team who has expert subject matter knowledge.”

The final contest will be held on December 11, 2019. This event, followed by the last M3 of 2019, is the final Biz Pitch contest with winners from the previous rounds competing for the grand prize. You will not want to miss this event!



Michael Venturiello is the founder of Christopher StreetTours, an LGBTQ walking tour company that focuses on making LGBTQ history accessible to all. He is a proud member of nglccNY and sits on the Media and Communications committee.