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    New Opportunities for GGBA Members Thanks to NGLCC, USAID Partnership

    paulBy Paul Pendergast

    Businesses in the Bay Area, as major importers and exporters to the Pacific Rim, Latin America and South America, know how important trade is to their growth. Now, LGBT-certified businesses have new opportunities to explore these avenues as well.

    Earlier this year, U.S. National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice announced a new partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to encourage and support LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs in developing countries.

    “Unfortunately, in too many places, being gay or transgender is enough to make someone the target of slurs, torments and violence…protecting our LGBT brothers and sisters is among the most challenging human rights issues we face. Thanks to a new partnership between the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and USAID, we will provide business development training and build new networks to help economically empower the LGBT community. And, working together, we can be assured that the future belongs to those who stand up for freedom and human dignity,” said Ambassador Rice.

    This unprecedented agreement, announced at the White House Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights, holds the promise of creating a more equitable business and cultural environment for LGBT people through economic empowerment. Further details about how to become an LGBT-certified business in order to participate are available at

    “The partnership with NGLCC is unique, innovative and strategic. Economic development will undoubtedly be a powerful tool in our joint mission of global LGBT equality,” said Claire Lucas, senior advisor for public-private partnerships at USAID.

    The initiative also creates an avenue for U.S. LGBT businesses to become trading and strategic partners with LGBT business owners in program countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Peru. It will also encourage program country businesses to become suppliers to multinational corporations, in-country companies and government agencies. Through this partnership, NGLCC will encourage intra-regional trade and team with LGBT-owned businesses in the U.S. to respond to multinational contracting opportunities.

    “LinguiSearch is proud to be one of the NGLCC’s private sector partners in this groundbreaking initiative. By committing resources and expertise toward the implementation of this historic undertaking, we are helping to foster economic empowerment and create new financial opportunities for LGBT businesses both here and abroad. Our investment in this partnership will allow LinguiSearch to develop new international trading and strategic partners, which can only strengthen our business and bottom line,” said David Schellenberg, president and CEO, LinguiSearch, an NGLCC-certified LGBTBE.

    “This new partnership reinforces our belief that one of the best ways to break down barriers is to use the common language of business to expand minds and create opportunities. We are grateful to the Obama Administration and USAID for working with us to ensure LGBT people around the world can participate in our increasingly global economy,” said Justin Nelson, NGLCC co-founder and president.

    In addition to funding provided by USAID, almost $3 million in private sector funds and in-kind services have been raised by NGLCC for the partnership. Private sector partners include Wells Fargo, MillerCoors, Google, American Airlines, 1st Choice Financial Group, American Language Technologies, Fourth Wall Events, GayHills, JTraczDesigns, L7z Group, LinguiSearch, Neil Cerbone Associates, and Site, Search & Select.

    Paul Pendergast, Chair of GGBA’s Public Policy Committee, is the owner and founder of the public affairs and strategic communications firm Pendergast Consulting Group.

    Words from Past Presidents

    nanetteGGBA is important to our history as it was the first LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce at a time when you could not always be out at work. It contributed to my confidence as an out professional, and helped to further my growth both personally and professionally. It was a great connector. GGBA laid the groundwork for me to be on our LGBTQ Community Center board, and that paved an introduction for me to become the auditor for the first gay-owned and themed public company, Planet Out. Thank you, GGBA, and Happy Birthday!

    Nanette Lee Miller, CPA, was President of GGBA from 1998–1999. She was one of the first women to serve as President of GGBA. Miller is a Partner at Marcum LLP,

    jerry My experience on the board of the GGBA enriched my life. I was fortunate to serve with some of the most passionate and committed people I have ever met, and it gave me my GGBA PhD in business. Businesses are an integral part of the community, and it is an axiom that economic empowerment and civil rights go hand in glove. In the forty years that the GGBA has existed, our business community came out of the closet to become a demographic that other businesses court. This year, supplier diversity programs have been expanded in California to include LGBT certified businesses. As we enjoy our more accepting society, it is good to remember that forty years ago, the GGBA was the first LGBT chamber of commerce and led the way to where we are today.

    Jerry Becerra, CPCU, was President of GGBA from November 2001–October 2002. Becerra is President of Barbary Insurance Brokerage,