Metro Weekly

Chamber Announces Awardees

Area's LGBT chamber of commerce names honorees ahead of April 20 dinner

The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, aka the Chamber, has announced those to be honored at the group’s 2012 awards dinner under the theme ”A Salute to Business Excellence.”

”This is going to be a really exciting dinner,” says Mark Guenther, the Chamber’s executive director, of the April 20 gala. ”I’m really proud of the slate of awardees. ”And it’s really exciting to have a little bit of celebrity with Chef Art Smith.”

The Chicago-based Smith, a celebrity chef with restaurants Table fifty-two in Chicago and Art and Soul in D.C., will be receiving the Chamber’s Excellence in Business Award.

Another recipient of national stature, though based here in D.C., is Joe Solmonese, head of the Human Rights Campaign, who will be stepping down in June. Solmonese will receive the Community Advocacy Award. Explaining the honor, Guenther pointed out that under Solmonese, the HRC added ”supplier diversity” to its annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates corporation’s policies with regard to LGBT employees, community involvement and other areas.

With more local focus, the Chamber is also honoring D.C. Allen, owner of the Crew Club gay gym at 1321 14th St. NW. Allen, who has worked with the city by funding a syphilis-awareness campaign and helping to found the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) of the Metropolitan Police Department, will receive the Business Leadership Award.

June Crenshaw, whose contributions to the community range from Whitman-Walker Health, where she serves as a board member, to the Rainbow Response Coalition, where she was board co-chair working to prevent intimate partner violence in the LGBT community, is receiving the Volunteer of Year Award.

The Emerging Entrepreneur Award is being given to business partners and spouses J.D. Warford, a veterinarian, and Jessica Serensits, of DC MetroVet. Their relatively novel business model is based on making house calls to care for clients’ pets.

Signal Financial Federal Credit Union, a member of the Chamber, is being recognized with the Corporate Ally of the Year Award.

Guenther adds that a special recognition will also go to Joseph Kolb, a chamber member for more than a decade, and a board member for eight, who just stepped down from that position. ”He’s been a quiet force on the board for a long time,” says Guenther.

The Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner is Friday, April 20, at The Liaison Capitol Hill, 415 New Jersey Ave. NW. Event registration begins at 6 p.m., with reception and silent auction from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dinner program is from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Single tickets range from $180 to $235, with early sale discounts ending March 23. For more information, visit

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