“It started as a few people coming together to better the business interests of LGBT business owners,” Zach Wilcha, executive director of the Independence Business Alliance, noted of the LGBT chamber of commerce’s inception. “Since then, we’ve done so many things.”
Wilcha noted IBA’s diversified membership, work to advance business equality and an expanded corporate-partner program.
IBA will celebrate milestones from the past 10 years with IBA10. The May 10 event will include an evening of dinner by Cescaphe, top-shelf open-bar, live entertainment, dancing and award presentations.
“It has always been an accomplishment for a small nonprofit to survive for 10 years,” Wilcha said. “I think we’re going to be celebrating what the founders wanted when they came together: a safe space for LGBT business owners to come together and help each other get business and celebrating what it’s turned into, which is leading a movement in Philadelphia toward business equality. In these shifting political landscapes, we’re proud to represent the safe space where people can come together, network and be exactly who they are.”
Additionally, IBA will present its seventh-annual PNC LGBT Business Award, a $10,000 award to a member business looking to grow its operations. The winner had not been decided by presstime and will be announced at the anniversary celebration.
Wilcha also noted the presentation of IBA’s first Influencer Award to Jonathan Capehart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from the Washington Post and MSNBC.
“He has been out for many years and he has been a voice in our community who reports about business and LGBT issues,” Wilcha said.
He noted the need for IBA in the evolving political climate.
“Before the last election, there was a lot of talk about what the purpose of an LGBT chamber was going to be, going forward, after so many years of progressive values,” Wilcha said. “I think after the election, it was sort of a wakeup call that we have a lot more to do as far as advocacy goes. We are not technically an advocacy organization but we use business-equality issues to give a voice to all people in the LGBT community and I think now that’s more important than ever.”
While IBA is celebrating a decade of accomplishments next month, Wilcha continues to look forward even further.
“I think by the time we reach our 20th anniversary, the purpose of an LGBT chamber of commerce would have radically shifted,” Wilcha said. “My hope is that many of the things we’re fighting for now, such as the stronger supply for diversity initiatives in our city and making sure that all members of our community are represented in the business world, will have been solved. So what we can do is celebrate all of the work that we have done for 20 years and continue to provide that safe space for people to come together, network and celebrate their successful businesses.”
IBA10: 10th Anniversary Celebration will take place 6-9 p.m. May 10 at the Down Town Club, 600 Chestnut St. Visit thinkiba.com/iba10 to purchase tickets.