Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts inaugural LGBT Business Summit 

Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts inaugural LGBT Business Summit 

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A Lehigh Valley organization will host its inaugural networking luncheon for LGBT professionals and allies.

The Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce will host the LGBT Business Summit on March 7, including lunch and breakout sessions with LGBT and ally business owners speaking about professional successes. Keynote speakers for the event include Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tony Iannelli and out comedian Lea DeLaria, who is known for her role as Carrie “Big Boo” Black on “Orange is the New Black.” 

Dr. Lizabeth Kleintop, chair of the LGBT Business Summit committee, noted DeLaria’s status as the first openly gay comic on a late-night talk show.

“She has been a very outspoken member of the community and she’s able to present that message in a way that people haven’t heard it,” Kleintop said. “It’s great to be able to have her bring her message and put that message to use.”

In addition to the keynote speakers, guests can attend two of four breakout sessions dedicated to LGBT people and allies in the workplace. Topics include: 

  • Power of the LGBT Dollar
  • Inclusion in the Workplace
  • An LGBT entrepreneurship panel
  • Being An “Out” Professional

After attending the event, Kleintop said LGBT attendees will think, If they can do it, why can’t I? 

“If you’re LGBT and you want to be a businessperson, [you will learn about] some of the things you have to deal with when doing so and some of the markets you should consult with in the LGBT community,” she said.

However, Kleintop also mentioned the importance of allies attending the summit, as the numbers of LGBT professionals are “not huge in the market and the community.” Kleintop, a transgender woman, added there are currently only 1.4-million documented transgender adults in the country, according to a June 2016 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA. 

“If we’re going to get change, we’re going to have to work with allies,” Kleintop said. “We’re going to have to be there alongside them, help them with the tools, help them develop the leverage they need to change the workplace so we are equal partners in business and the community. Allies are really important. We learned that in the civil-rights movement and it just carries forth from there.”

Kleintop referenced several reasons LGBT people and allies should attend the summit.

“They can learn, build some skills and develop some competencies they can take back with them to their workplaces,” she said. “But they can also network and tie into other people with other businesses in the community. Networking is always important, but here we can build upon that. We have built [it] into the program: opportunities to talk and network with others, make those new connections and build up old ones.”

The LGBT Business Summit will be held 9 a.m.-2 p.m. March 7 at Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Tickets cost $50 for members and $98 for future members. Visit http://bit.ly/2lnditn to purchase tickets.

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