Tuesday, June 21, 2022

nglccNY Biz of the Month: New Queer Order Enterprises Inc.

This July, nglccNY is proud to spotlight New Queer Order Enterprises as our next featured Biz of the Month! We spoke with founders Aaron Musgrove-Lecours, Bee Jordan, Felicia Misale, Gerson Leon, and Kamryn Jerrel to learn more about their entrepreneurial journeys and experiences running a queer-owned business:

What is your business?

We are a queer-owned and run cooperative that offers media platforms such as podcasting, internet radio and other vehicles for the least represented voices of the queer community.  We seek to create economic opportunities through creativity and employment. We are a diverse organization representing disenfranchised parts of the queer community. We are looking to create real change in the community with the least amount of privilege through economic advancement and media representation. 

What is unique about your business?

We are a queer cooperative that concentrates on business opportunities in creative platforms and artistic projects that looks to create job opportunities to strengthen economic and political power amongst the least represented parts of the queer community.  We focus on creating an atmosphere for the under-served voices that need structural power to enhance their health and stability.

What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur?

That we are here to serve the community and create opportunities for advancement in the mind, body and health of the queer community.

How has being a Certified LGBTBE® impacted your business? Why did you join nglccNY?

It has helped connect us to a network of other queer business owners, who have offered mentorship, advice and business connections.

Connect with New Queer Order on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

nglccNY Biz of the Month: Home Grown Meals LLC

This June, nglccNY is proud to spotlight Home Grown Meals as our next featured Biz of the Month! We spoke with founder Sean Patrick Gallagher about the philosophy behind his business and what it means to him to be an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur, especially during Pride Month. Read our full interview below: 

What is your business?

I own a small farm-to-table private chef service based in Williamsburg, NYC. I prepare day-of private events in clients' homes. I started Home Grown Meals last May as an answer to entertaining in a time of Covid. You can have a super high end luxury meal and service in the comfort of your own home with the freshest meal prepared for you with handpicked ingredients. Reception has been incredible and I've had a laundry list of millionaires, celebrities, and billionaires who have hired me for their special events. 

What is unique about your business?

I handpick the highest quality ingredients and put together a luxury experience in a client's home. I provide staffing, design, rentals, and collaborate to create a very unique "white glove" experience that is hard to come by. I travel throughout the US for client's needs as well as internationally. I have cooked in Italy, France, Turkey, India, and the Philippines. 

What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur?

When I made a decision very young to cook for a living... I was scared. The people I interacted with were not LGBTQ+ friendly, and I didn't work with others like me. I have always wanted to create a safe space for like minded people who can creatively work together to make beautiful food. I make a conscious effort to always hire fellow LGBTQ+ workforce for my events as well as women, minority communities, and people of color. There has always been a stigma about the "straight angry white macho male chef" who runs a kitchen, and I've done everything to dismantle that persona. I lead with kindness, and approach running a kitchen as both a teacher and a student. Chefs need to realize that you are always a student and learn more everyday, so ego needs to be checked at the door. These are some of the many reasons in why I am so passionate about what I am able to do on a daily basis and proud to be an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur.

How has being a Certified LGBTBE® impacted your business? Why did you join nglccNY?

I love being able to share that I am a queer small business owner and joined the nglccNY to be able to connect with others within the community not only for future business opportunities but also to help be an advocate and aide others in the community. 

What is your favorite part about the nglccNY community?

I love how vastly different all associates and businesses are; the community contains members from all sectors of the workforce. I've really enjoyed meeting members and chatting about everyones goals, it seems the common denominator is that we're all moving forward towards our dreams/success.


Learn more about how you can join the nglccNY community at nglccny.org

Monday, April 18, 2022

nglccNY Biz of the Month: 360 Magazine

This May, nglccNY is proud to spotlight 360 MAGAZINE as our second nglccNY Biz of the Month! We spoke with Vaughn Lowery (he/him/his) about 360 MAGAZINE'S services and what makes his business unique. Read our Q&A with Lowery below:

What is your business?

360 MAGAZINE is an award-winning international publishing popular culture and design. We showcase state-of-the-art brands, entities and trends to creators of global tastes within their respective communities. Our founding members possess more than 30 years of collective experience both as notable talent and uber-professionals in the fields of art, music, fashion, auto, travel, spirits and entertainment. We are not just journalists, but represent an advocacy and social change movement.

What is unique about your business?

In 2009, we came up with an organization that embraced POC, women and the LGBTQIA+ community. Our mission was to extend the microphone to their once unheard-of voices. To date, the platform has continued to grow and feed neglected communities through mainstream media.

How has being a Certified LGBTBE® impacted your business? Why did you join nglccNY?

We particularly turned to nglccNY for its historical connections and maternalistic approach to boutique brands with similar perspectives. We are extremely fortunate, as are the possibilities that flow from that.

What is your favorite part about the nglccNY community?

The most intriguing component of the chapter is fellowship, consistently engaging with individuals and entities who celebrate their uniqueness as we do.

What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur?

Being an LGBTQ+ enterpriser has enabled us to thrive and prosper in these dark times. We have expanded our volumes to include politics and tech; launched our NFT Animal Series on OpenSea; introduced 360 MAG Podcast on Apple and Spotify and published the first installment of our Move Like Water × Be Fluid series - a youthful self-help book, marketing manifest with heart wrenching testimonials. Indeed, with our certification announcement, I have become a more confident leader in a ketsado, pushing for limitless inclusion.

Connect with Lowery and 360 Magazine on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

nglccNY Biz of the Month: Asempe Kitchen, LLC

 This April, nglccNY is proud to spotlight Asempe Kitchen, LLC as our very first nglccNY Biz of the Month! We spoke with Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe (she/her/hers) about Asempe Kitchen’s offerings and what makes her business unique. Read our Q&A with Yomekpe below:

What is your business?

Asempe Kitchen, LLC is a West African catering, pop up, and culinary experience company that specializes in providing vegan options to traditional authentic West African food. Our Culinary Experiences strive to build bridges and heal schisms and bring together people from various parts of life's journey.

What is unique about your business?

Asempe Kitchen, LLC is unique in that we don't just serve food, we want to know who you are and how you came to be where you are by using food as a connector. We all eat at some point, why not do it together?

How has being a Certified LGBTBE® impacted your business? Why did you join nglccNY?

I recently got certified...what has happened as a result is that I have met TJ and Jada and Mary Blanchett and have felt fully supported and encouraged by them to expand my potential.

What is your favorite part about the nglccNY community?

My favorite part of the nglccNY community is that they are very supportive and take community very seriously. My ambassador has invited me to events and given me a heads up about who to contact for what and has also helped me dream bigger than my current company.

What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur?

This is very important to me because most of my family is still in denial about my orientation and my upcoming marriage to the most beautiful woman I know. Being out and proud and choosing certification makes me a role model, especially to queer Black and Brown entrepreneurs who may themselves be struggling with being their whole selves.

Anything else you'd like us to know or share?

Being queer and Black is not an anomaly!


You can connect with Asempe Kitchen and Yomekpe online at www.asempekitchen.com

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Nonprofit Spotlight: Alice Austen House

The first time Victoria Munro visited the Alice Austen House, nearly two decades ago for a self-guided tour, she left the museum not knowing that Alice Austen was a lesbian. The museum was a charming building, set with antique furniture, but the appeal ended there. Fast forward to present day, Victoria Munro now serves as the Executive Director, the first lesbian woman to do so, ensuring that the history of Alice Austen is an accurate one, with a narrative that is representative of Austen’s work and her life.

Alice Austen was a Victorian woman born in 1866. Abandoned by her father at an early age, Austen soon moved into her grandparents’ house, which is the house we now know as the Alice Austen House located in Staten Island, New York. Austen lived in the house with several adult relatives, including her mother and uncles, allowing her the autonomy to pursue whatever interests came her way. An early photographer, she was given her first camera at the age of ten by her Uncle Oswald, and taught the chemistry of developing photographs by her Uncle Peter. Over the course of her life, Alice Austen left us with over 8,000 images of a changing and evolving landscape of New York City society.

Like many artists, Austen infused activism into her artwork. “I refer to Alice as an accidental activist,” Munro reflects. “She broke the boundaries of what was acceptable for a Victorian woman and also lived her life as a lesbian.” In addition to her photography, Austen was a founding member of the Staten Island Garden Club. “She was involved in movements that gave women much greater freedoms of dress, expression, and ways of society where women didn’t have to be chaperoned by men.”

Despite the legacy of Austen’s life, her story takes a somber turn towards the end. After living with her partner, Gertrude Tate, for over 30 years, they were eventually separated by poverty and homophobia. Austen lost most of her fortune in the stock market crash of 1929 and was eventually evicted from the House in 1945. Tate’s family allowed her to live with them in Brooklyn, but would not permit Austen to join. Austen was then admitted to the Staten Island Poor House. Austen’s works would later be rediscovered in 1951, when a man named Oliver Jensen found Austen’s photographs for a book he was writing, “The Revolt of the American Woman,” which captured visual imagery of women of different eras. With this rebirth of Austen’s work in the 1960s, the ownership of the Austen home (which was then privately owned) was transferred to the City of New York and the New York Parks Department.

“The dream was to open the house as a museum to represent the life and work of Austen, but also as a platform for photographers, both historic and contemporary, which is what we have today,” Munro shares. Although the Alice Austen House formally opened its doors in 1985, the original narrative represented by the museum excluded Tate’s name, and their relationship was never acknowledged. “The reason why many people don’t know about Alice Austen,” Munro explains, “is because of this lie, or closeting, of Alice. It’s essential to understanding her work and her approach.” 

In 2017, through efforts from the LGBT Historic Sites Project and the National Parks Service, the original 1970 National Register of Historic Places listing was updated to include the LGBT context and significance of the House. After a major renovation, there is now a permanent exhibition to center Austen’s work, as well as her relationship with Tate. “Lesbian woman will revisit the House after the renovation,” Munro states, “and will get emotional because they are now welcomed and have an open acknowledgment of this pre-Stonewall queer history. There’s also active programming with youth, with the hope of inspiring and empowering them through photographic storytelling.” 

Munro also acknowledges the importance of the LGBTQ+ community who supported and fought for this space, and shares how museums can increase access to LGBTQ+ history. “We’re in a very unique position where we’re not a Pride Center, we’re a museum. There’s access there for all ages, all people. We have this ability to educate and be inclusive in a way where we can almost be sneaky, because I can work with teenagers who aren’t out to their family, to their community, and it’s a safe space for them, and to do that through art, it’s very powerful.” 

As the first lesbian Executive Director of the Alice Austen House, Munro recognizes the importance of the LGBTQ+ business community. Although the House is a nonprofit organization, Munro expressed the significance of working with all fields within LGBTQ+ business to understand trends in effectively engaging with the community. “Memberships, like those with nglccNY, are very important. It’s my hope that the membership of the chamber can find out about Alice Austen and know that they have a space that’s for them.”

Victoria Munro

The Alice Austen House provides continuous public programming and multiple physical and digital exhibitions. To learn more, visit www.aliceausten.org.


Written by Michael Venturiello, the founder of Christopher Street Tours, an LGBTQ history organization. Michael is a proud member and Ambassador of nglccNY and sits on the Media and Communications Committee. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

He Is “The Gay Leadership Dude®”

Whether you know him as Steven R. Yacovelli, Ed.D., Dr. Steve, “The Gay Leadership Dude®,” or just Steve, if you’ve ever met him, you’ll remember him for a long time to come. Steve has that kind of positive energy, coupled with incredible experience and wisdom that he wants to share with you and with the world. 

Photo Credit: Steven Yacovelli

Steve began his career in software training with adults back in the pre-Windows days of DOS. This was the beginning of his learning how to communicate with adults. After earning a Master’s in Educational Policy and Leadership Development, he joined Disney Cruise Line, working in the areas of leadership, diversity, and inclusion. While at Disney, Steve also started a “side hustle,” TopDog Learning Group in 2002. TopDog remained in the background until shortly after he was laid off. In 2008, Steve went full-time with TopDog and has never looked back. Today, he and his “TopDoggers” (Steve’s affiliates) serve a global marketplace in the areas of leadership and organizational development, change management and resilience, and inclusion and belonging.

Introducing himself as “The Gay Leadership Dude®” on his website, LinkedIn, and everywhere that he appears, Steve takes being out and proud to a level few others do. His business prospects, his clients, and those who walk away from doing business with TopDog have no question about who Steve is. So, it was not surprising to him when one of his clients approached him in 2017 and asked if TopDog would become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise; simply put, the client wanted to be able to include their spending with TopDog in their overall Supplier Diversity numbers. Steve attributes his ongoing certification as continuing to help support and grow his business. 

When asked how being so clearly out resonates in the marketplace, Steve replied, “Very well. It’s a way to find like-valued clients. I don’t want to fight clients to help them be more inclusive. I want to work with clients who want to do this but don’t know how. I’ve had people ask, ‘Why do the gay thing?’ I don’t do the gay thing. I just happen to be the gay thing.”

In addition to consulting, coaching, training, giving keynote speeches, advocacy, and serving as a “professional podcast guest,” Steve is an author. His most recent book had its genesis at his first National NGLCC conference; he had a chance encounter with Jenn T. Grace (Publish Your Purpose Press). Jenn started talking about her passion as a publisher and Steve began to share the leadership book that was germinating in his mind. 

While it started as “one of thousands of similar leadership books,” as he began to craft the book, “the little Carrie Bradshaw in me popped up. I couldn’t help but wonder whether there is anything in our collective queer experience that has us look at leadership in a different way or have different opportunities than our straight counterparts.” With some research, Steve came to understand that for many of us, our experience growing up has resulted in the development of six critical leadership competencies: Authenticity, Courage, Empathy, Communication, Relationships, and Shaping Culture. He identifies these as competencies that make a leader different. When interviewed for this article, Steve said, “When you look through a rainbow lens, for example, at authenticity, if I am an out professional or trans person being my authentic self, how much more authentic can I be? That can be used to show what an awesome leader you are, foster trust, all that good stuff. We out ourselves constantly to our colleagues, to others, and that takes courage. If we channel that courage into leadership, we can really do magic.” In the book Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be King or Queen of Their Jungle, Steve takes a deep dive into how the reader (or listener; Steve chose to narrate the book himself, ironically done in the quietest place in his home: the closet!) can apply each of these competencies to make a significant difference in the world around them. 

At the end of the day, Steve is (and describes himself as) a catalyst. “If we are going to foster change, we have to be that catalyst. Whether it is someone reading Pride Leadership or someone hearing something I am saying on stage, hopefully whatever I do fosters meaningful, lasting change.” There is no doubt, Steve Yacovelli, “The Gay Leadership Dude®”, is a catalyst on behalf of the entire LGBTQ+ community.

Written by Brian Gorman, an NGLCC member and an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified professional coach. He brings five decades of change experience and study into every coaching conversation. He has served clients as large as Merck Manufacturing, as well as startups and individual leaders. Brian taps into the core of the matter, helping each person maximize their professional and personal potential. Brian works both one-on-one and with teams. In addition to his writing for nglccNY, Brian is a frequent contributor to Forbes online (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/people/briangorman/#741ca8535c20) and serves as Managing Editor of Change Management Review. Website: www.TransformingLives.Coach Brian@TransformingLives.Coach


Dr. Steve Yacovelli (a.k.a. “The Gay Leadership DudeTM”) is Owner & Principal of TopDog Learning Group, LLC, a leadership, change management, and diversity and inclusion consulting firm based in Orlando, Florida, USA but with affiliates (“TopDoggers”) throughout the globe. Steve and TopDog provide guidance and solutions in leadership and organizational development, change management, diversity and inclusion consulting, instructional design, and custom e-learning creation. Whether it be through providing keynotes and facilitating leadership development programs for Fortune 500 companies like The Walt Disney Company, Bayer AG, or accenture, to providing one-on-one coaching experiences for groups like IBM, Covestro, and The Public Library Association, or creating engaging, effective training solutions for various delivery formats for folks like Tupperware Brands Corporation, The Ohio State University, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Steve is passionate about helping others be their best selves, in and out of the workplace

Monday, March 29, 2021

Member Spotlight: Mary Blanchett, Registered Representative/Agent, New York Life Insurance Company, offering securities through NYLIFE Securities LLC

By Carolyn M. Brown

Mary Blanchett has always been driven by a passion and purpose in life to help other people. Right out of high school, during college and beyond she went to work in the long-term care industry where she eventually became a nursing home administrator. 

“I really loved what I did, but the rules kept on changing, making it harder to do good work,” she recalls. “The nursing homes and home care were less and less not-for-profit and more and more for-profit. So, it was a good time to leave back in ’09.”

After spending 27 years in the field, she shifted gears for a career in financial services at the urging of an acquaintance who suggested she help people towards their retirement, so that they don't have to end up in nursing homes. That advice resonated with Blanchett, who had been telling elderly residents to talk to lawyers and advisors about trusts and other financial matters to best secure their money. 

It was through the NGLCC that Blanchett set her sights on New York Life. It was back in 2010 at a chamber mixer where she met Angela Daniels-Lewis, who specialized in recruiting and developing for both the LGBTQ and the Women’s Market at New York Life (now a retired Corporate Vice President after 33 years of service). 

“New York Life has always been very involved with the NGLCC and is a long standing corporate member. They have been inclusive in their supply chain diversity by looking at LGBT certified businesses,” says Blanchett. She credits Joy Wong, Corporate Vice President Supplier Diversity/Procurement, with such outreach.

“New York Life does a lot of outreach to women and people of color in hiring, in recruitment,” Blanchett adds. “When you think about insurance, when you think about finance, when you think about IRAs and investments, most people go right to white men for those products and services.” Blanchett saw New York Life as a great fit to operate an enterprise that expressed her purpose of empowering LGBT adults to plan for their future. 

New York Life Insurance Company—standing 175 years strong—is the third-largest life insurance company and the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States with $702 billion in assets under management, $1.1 trillion in individual life insurance, and $12.5 billion in total dividends and benefits paid to policy owners and their beneficiaries as of 2020. Today, women make up 53 percent of New York Life’s workforce. In the field, 33 percent of agents are women, as are 20 percent of the company’s managing partners. In honor of Women’s History Month, a series of posts on the company’s website spotlighted some of the milestones and notable achievements of women at New York Life throughout its history.

As a nglccNY ambassador, Blanchett’s efforts extend to diversifying the chamber by bringing onboard new members in terms of women and women of color. 

“I want to help people in our community. That's what the chamber is about. Helping each other so that all boats float higher in the water,” she explains. “Everything is about networking, right? In order for everyone to do better we really need that referral pipeline. It's important that we all have a list of names so that if someone needs someone we can refer that person. It doesn't matter if it's a contractor, a real estate person, a banker or insurance person, whatever the profession is, it's good to be able to offer that referral to your clients.” 

She acknowledges that the majority of her clients are women, noting that women have a different action plan for their finances, savings, retirement, and insurance. 

“We're socialized differently,” she adds. “It's important that women know what their options are and understand what the consequences are before making financial decisions.”

Studies show women are facing a retirement crisis. They are likely to earn less during their working lives, and then to live longer after they retire in comparison to their male counterparts. While everyone is facing unprecedented challenges, women are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout of COVID-19.  Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force due mostly to caring for children who were home schooling but also family members affected by the coronavirus who were sheltering in place. 

Blanchett is quick to point out that even before the pandemic, women bore the burden of caregiver and decision-maker over household finances. Research reveals that nearly 9 in 10 women who are married or live with a partner are involved in spending and investing decisions in their household. Even when men are in charge, odds are that women will outlive their male spouses and will have to deal with financial decisions after his death, notes Blanchett.

“The most important thing that I offer is making sure people are educated in whatever areas are important to them so that they can make informed decisions about their finances and their futures,” she says. Underscoring a commitment to women are women sponsored events and study groups through the Women's Market, a supportive and educational service for New York Life agents helping women make solid financial choices.

Admittedly the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly challenging for Blanchett because meeting new people is her lifeline. But she manages to get her message across to new and existing clients. 

“What I tell everybody is it might not be the perfect time to enact the plan but now is the perfect time to have a plan. Because financial planning is all about a plan… what I'm going to do today, what I'm going to do a year from now, what I'm going to do 10 years from now. And it all comes down to the goal of retirement because we want to make sure that we're going to be safe and secure later on. So that's the big thing. Not running out of money before we run out of life.”

Written by Carolyn M. Brown, a journalist, author, playwright, producer, and founder of True Colors Project, a social enterprise that produces LGBTQIAGNC+ themed content via theater, film, digital platforms, and events, which includes My True Colors Excel Pride Awards and My True Colors Festival: Fighting For Social Justice and Cultural Diversity Through The Arts, She is a member of the nglccNY Media and Communications Committee. @cmbrown_7