On Thursday evening, March 7th, we attended the 2019 Annual Meeting of Plexus, the LGBT & Allied Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is “to provide proactive business development for the LGBT business community and allies.”
The gathering took place at the Agora Theatre on Euclid Avenue. Some 175 people attended, prompting Ms. Michelle Tomallo, President of Plexus, to recall how far they had come. Only 50 people, mostly men representing corporations, attended their first meeting. This year, a diverse group of people of all ages, gender identities/expressions, and ethnicities, representing businesses, non-profits, and governmental agencies both large and small, attended.
Ms. Tomallo went on to say that she would like to conduct even more outreach to include even more people. We suggested that they should target entrepreneurs/businesspeople who have immigrated to the United States.
Appropriately, the theme for this evening was “Plexus Forward Into a New Era” and its purpose was to explore ways to make this happen. Therefore, we were divided into groups designated by a letter and a color; we ourselves were in Group B blue. Then we were escorted by monitors carrying signs (which was indeed necessary because the theater was packed) to four stations where groups addressed different topics.
These topics were: the promotion of diversity and inclusion in workplaces large and small; the most important areas where Plexus should focus its resources; how we, as individuals, could contribute to the advancement of Plexus and its works wherein we, ourselves, offered to volunteer at Akron Pride; and, lastly a meeting with Mr. Kevin Schmotzer and Commander Deirdre Jones who are, respectively, the LGBTQ Liaisons to the Cleveland Mayor’s Office and the Cleveland Police Department.
Of course, the highlight for the evening was the opportunity to network and we especially enjoyed meeting 7 students from Northeastern College in Boston who were visiting Cleveland for a “service break” conducted by the Cleveland Leadership Center in which they explored our city’s LGBTQ support system.
We also visited with a person who told us of the good services rendered at the Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants near Kamm’s Corner that include the teaching of English and preparation for the U.S. citizenship exam.
Along the way, we picked up a card that contained the Ally Pledge which read:
I believe all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression deserve to feel safe and supported.
That means I pledge to:
- Show my support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) equality.
- Not use anti-LGBT language or slurs.
- Speak up, if I safely can, and respond to anti-LGBT jokes or remarks or to correct misinformation.
- Encourage others to be allies.
We know that these are principles that all of us at Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC strive to continuously practice.