MERGE and LGBT Regional Chamber of Commerce Collaborate to Aid LGBTQ Organizations

BTL Staff
By | 2018-11-21T10:41:24-04:00 November 21st, 2018|Michigan, News|

This month, through a collaboration between the Michigan Employee Resource Group for Equality or MERGE and the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce, LGBTQ organizations across Metro Detroit were given the opportunity to connect one-on-one with business leaders in the area. The two groups met for a collaborative business dinner in downtown Detroit. Present were representatives from leaders of prominent LGBTQ institutions from across the region like LGBT Detroit and Motor City Pride, along with representatives from businesses in the area. In attendance were Beth Correa, senior vice president and market manager at Flagstar Bank; Camila Gaton, senior associate at KPMG; Jodi Weatherly, vice president at PNC Bank; Kevin Pfau, CI expert at DTE Energy; Michael Mitro, vice president at The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan; Michael Kaser P&L training lead at General Motors and others.
Employee resource groups like MERGE allow for large, many of them Fortune 500, companies to connect with minorities like the LGBTQ community face-to-face and provide them with a means to amplify their voices within large organizations. The close-up look also allows companies with the means to provide philanthropic aid the opportunity to do so.
“I dedicated my life to social justice and making sure that no one experiences trauma as we did when we were young,” said LGBT Detroit Executive Director Curtis Lipscomb referencing the 1980s AIDS epidemic. “What LGBT Detroit does is we’re an education and advocacy organization. If you’re not familiar, we create spaces where you can get information to find places to get great help and advocate on issues. Young adults and teenagers come in to get information and resources for prevalent issues like sexual assault, cancer care and leadership. Also, Hotter Than July is our big project and the world’s second oldest black gay pride located right here in Detroit and I invite you to come and see who we serve.”
Also in attendance was Sean Cowie, who is the beverage director for Motor City Pride. He spoke of the annual event’s reach — last year estimated to have exceeded 40,000 attendees — but also of the need for community help to maintain the weekend-long celebration.
“Next year we’re going to be granting $20,000 to other nonprofit LGBTQ organizations,” he said. “We always want to make it bigger and make things better and we can’t do what we do without all of you.”
Jan Stevenson is the co-publisher of Between The Lines and the vice president of the Detroit Chamber. She said that the benefit of events like these can be a great vehicle for making not only a more inclusive, informed business community, but aiding great causes in the Metro area.
“The corporate community is leading the way on LGBTQ equality, and is way ahead of our political leaders on our issues,” Stevenson said. “By networking with the decision makers within these large corporations and employers, LGBTQ community leaders provide insight and data about our local community, it’s projects, needs, successes and challenges. This opens the channels of communication and support between these two impactful groups of leaders.”
To find out more about the Chamber and its many services, reach out to

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.