Metro Weekly

Changes in the Chamber

Organization selects new executive board and preps for upcoming gala

The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has begun accepting nominations for honorees at its upcoming annual gala at the Park Hyatt Washington on April 8.

Mark Guenther, the group’s executive director, says the organization will honor those who have enhanced the economic, cultural and social aspects of LGBT businesses at the chamber’s 10th annual gala. Specific categories for honorees include ”Excellence in Business” and ”Emerging Entrepreneur.”

In other chamber news, on Jan. 11 the group elected members to its volunteer executive board: Mike Larson, president; Max Barger, vice president of programs and events; Joe Kolb, vice president of membership; Ernesto Santalla, secretary; and Tavarious Butts, treasurer.

”We’re very excited about our new board members in the executive committee because they bring an enthusiasm and energy level to the chamber that’s really going to take us to the next level in terms of our membership and membership benefits,” Guenther says. ”Everybody is excited and jazzed at this point to move forward and just put in the hard work to make things happen.”

In the coming year, Guenther says that hard work includes focusing on diversifying chamber membership.

”We’re really working on our membership initiative, making our membership base a lot more diverse in terms of people from associations, people from the corporate environment, and the mainstream businesses,” he says. ”I believe when we have a diverse membership we offer all of our members a lot more opportunity.”

That includes straight allies.

”There’s an opportunity to take down these barriers with people you don’t know, and you start working with people that you have something in common with.”

To nominate business leaders for Chamber honors, visit