Philadelphia, PA (May 2019) – The Independence Business Alliance held their Business Leaders Luncheon presented by Bristol-Myers Squibb at the Lucy on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, commemorating the growth and achievement in the Greater Philadelphia LGBT business community with a full house of LGBTQA leaders.
The afternoon featured a presentation of the 9th annual PNC Bank $10,000 LGBT Business Award, given by PNC Bank to an LGBT or allied IBA-member business that is poised to grow, innovate, and give back to the community.
Winners from the last few years have gone on to do incredible things with the award from building a website to increase book sales to establishing a mentoring program to creating a method of using technology to prevent bias in the hiring process. Winners from the last few years have gone on to do incredible things with the award from building a website to increase book sales to establishing a mentoring program to creating a method of using technology to prevent bias in the hiring process.
This year, the award went to certified LGBT-owned business, MTR Therapy. Founded and led by Michael Tyler Ramos, MTR Therapy was established in March 2015 as a solo practice but quickly grew into a group practice. They have a primary office location in Rittenhouse Square and additional locations at the William Way Center and in Lawrenceville NJ. They are open 7 days a week and also offer virtual services to those individuals to those who are unable to be seen at one of their locations.
The Mission of MTR Therapy is to increase accessibility for all to obtain high quality mental health services within our diverse communities. They operate from a holistic approach, integrating the mind and body to support all individuals along their journey. They are intentional in working with the communities they are a part of and having staff reflect those communities. Their mantra is services for the community by the community.
Their PNC Award-winning proposal is a Young Adult Initiative Career and Identity Development Group for people of color who identify as LGBTQ+ and are within the ages of 18-25 – an 8-week group they have developed to support LGBTQ youth of color. Additionally, they will leverage the practice foundation in trauma and provide individualized care to those who are in need of additional support to ensure completion of such a group. As insurance will not cover the costs of the services provided, the PNC Award grant will support MTR’s mission of increasing access to the community. This program aligns with the goals of PNC and the IBA in providing a healthy space for LGBTQ youth of color to process their identity as well as explore their college and career goals.
The IBA and DVLF extend our sincere congratulations to Andreas Copes! Andreas is a student leader and budding journalist at the Community College of Philadelphia. He runs his own podcast called Binoculars, hosts the CCPTV series, Focal Point, and serves as a social media manager for the college. Andreas is passionate about intersectional LGBTQ visibility and plans to increase our community’s representation through his journalistic work. Andreas immigrated from Germany to the US to be with his husband, and has overcome countless obstacles all while excelling in his college career.
We are thrilled to welcome Andreas to our list of worthy winners.
Description of product/service of your company:
WME is a leading system integrator for Microsoft Infrastructure, Security and Cloud solutions. A Microsoft Certified Partner with gold competencies in datacenter, device and deployment, cloud productivity, EMS and cloud platform; WME has over 50 years of combined experience and passion for transforming IT operations through the development of solutions, products and managed services that make the job of their customers easier.
WME’s Strategic Services division concentrates on strategic talent strategies, partnerships and acquisitions partnering with organizations to assess and solve information technology challenges leveraging digital technologies — cloud, mobile, security, infrastructure, and data.
WME’s Managed Services for SMB is geared towards managing the entire IT footprint for small business (40-200 users) and our Tier 3 Managed Service focuses on providing Microsoft support for mid-market and enterprise clients.
How many years have you been with your company?
WME was founded in 2008.
What were you doing before you founded your business?
My background is actually in IT with a focus on systems management leveraging Microsoft management technologies and windows deployment solutions. I worked as a consultant for 20 years with Avanade, Microsoft, CSS and 1E before starting my business in 2008. I also dabbled in real estate shortly before starting my own business but we don’t discuss that now, lol.
What makes your business stand out when compared to other businesses in your field?
The word focus comes to mind. We are a focused solution integrator with solutions in Microsoft infrastructure, cloud and security technologies. It’s what allows us to provide a deep level of expertise that are our clients and partners expect when bringing us in. Our focus is what allows us to stay ahead of new technology trends, train up on those trends and leverage the relationships to dogfood technologies we implement within our internal IT department at WME.
How has being a member of the LGBT community impacted your business, if at all?
When I first started my career, the whole diversity and inclusive aspect was not well communicated and, in some cases, missing. You look around and you don’t see people like you. It definitely felt lonely working in corporate America with no group or support structure so you start to feel left out. There have been many times working in parts of the deep south and Midwest that you encounter those that are not supportive of who you are. It can be really a tough place to be in which is why being certified and making a stand is so important for me as the owner.
Why has WME decided to start its own supplier diversity program, and why is it important to you?
Over the course of the last 2 years and through our active involvement with the IBA and NGLCC we have met a ton of suppliers that we have partnered with to win bigger deals together. The power of partnership with suppliers is hugely important. What I found is those same suppliers could also be providing us with goods and services internally. It was at the annual IBA holiday party when this came to light when a large supplier/corporate partner and I spoke about WME providing managed services for their internal IT needs as well!! I just knew then that I had to formalize our program. Not only that but it was important to set the stage formally that we are in fact open for business to work with diverse businesses. Communicating that on our website and formalizing our supplier diversity program raises the bar for us internally as well to be what we say we are namely a diverse and inclusive business.
It also is part of our mission this year to focus on our core values and emphasize that we are business with diversity and inclusion at our core representing also the values of Integrity, Open Communication, Leadership, Innovation, Partnership, Collaboration and Fun.
The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I’ve already had several people reach out to us who want to work with WME because of our diversity and inclusion program. Our program simply provides a way for others to feel welcomed, supported and accepted to do business with WME as well as work for WME as an offshoot. I’m excited what the future holds for WME.
How has being a Certified LGBTBE through NGLCC impacted your business?
Initially it was my husband Chris Querubin who was the advocate for WME to get certified. At that time, he was very involved with Equal Rights WA in WA state to get domestic partnerships on the ballot and I was a part of that. It was during that time people were really rallying around to make marriage available for all. This opened my eyes up to the possibility of making a stand as a LGBTE business in the technology community. Getting certified was the first step but it wasn’t until 2018 that we really started stepping up and leveraging our certification. The impact it had on the business is huge. We’ve showed up at the local events, building relationships with other suppliers and diversity supplier/procurement professionals in our area. For me it’s always been about partnerships since day one of my business and identifying other suppliers that can be a compliment to our solutions is key. I never rule out any contact I meet for I am meeting them for a reason bigger then I really know or recognize now.
What advice would you give to an LGBT person starting a business?
Show up at the events. Start building relationships with other suppliers today by identifying their core competencies and strengths to build your network and directory. You just never know who you will meet that could utilize their product or services. Next is be open. Be open to making a connection with no expectations. We are all in this together so let’s lift each other up and find non-competing areas we can partner together and win that billion dollar contract.
Description of product/service of your company:
Insperity offers a unique HR outsourcing solution that makes it possible for small business owners to reduce their costs and mitigate their risks related to being an employer.
How many years have you been with your company?
I started my career as a Business Performance Advisor at Insperity in November of 2017.
Company or organization besides yours that you respect most:
I love companies that champion things like LGBT equality, sustainability, and social justice. That’s why I like IBM, Microsoft, Gap, EY, Hyatt, Apple, Dropbox, Comcast, and local organizations like IBA, Equality Pennsylvania, William Way, Equality Forum, and so many others.
Business leader or innovator you want to emulate:
I’ve recently been reading good things about IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty, and Patagonia’s, CEO, Rose Macario. I’m secretly a huge fan of Queen Elizabeth I who ran a small country very well and didn’t shy away from making the hard decisions.
Most important business decision:
I spent most of my career providing HR solutions to very large companies in corporate America. Choosing to become a Business Performance Advisor at Insperity was a difficult decision because I knew I’d be focused entirely on supporting the needs of small business owners, and I mistakenly thought their needs would be very different and outside of my knowledge base and comfort zone. I decided to move forward with the job anyway based on Insperity’s stellar reputation and depth and breadth of services, and quickly learned that the challenges faced by small businesses aren’t all that different from large businesses. Small companies just don’t have access to the same resources. Insperity levels the playing field between a large and small employer by making big company resources available to the small business owner. In this way, the work I do at Insperity is much more impactful and personally rewarding than anything I’ve done before, and I’ve never been happier. Choosing to join the team at Insperity was the most important and best business decision I’ve ever made.
Most important life decision:
I have always strived to be authentic so I think coming out may be my most important life decision. I want people to know who I am.
When and why you joined the IBA:
At Insperity, our mission is to help businesses succeed so communities prosper, and Business Performance Advisors like me are encouraged to work within our own communities. IBA events are a fun way to tap into the local LGBT community to make new friends and valuable business connections. I attended my first IBA ConnX in November 2017 and couldn’t believe how many people I met that night. I became a member right away. A year later, I no longer feel like I’m walking into a room full of strangers because I’ve made so many friends, yet there are always a ton of new faces at every event too.
Greatest advantage to being a member:
There’s a common bond between IBA members that feels almost like a sibling relationship. IBA is so unlike other chambers in that way.
Proudest moment, honor, or achievement:
A few months before marriage equality became the law of the land, I legally married my long-time partner, and we’ll be celebrating 20 years together this year.
How are you involved with giving back to the community?
At Insperity, we’re committed to giving back to our communities and enriching the lives of others. Insperity’s philanthropic efforts totaled $6.2 million last year. As an Insperity employee, I’m happy that we’re required to participate in community involvement events on at least a quarterly basis. I’ve also been an active member of nonprofit committees and boards supporting the LGBT community, and I’m passionate about dog rescue (particularly boxers).
Little known fact:
When the weather is nice and temperatures are above 50 degrees, I’m a weekend landscape oil painter.
Hands down, my guilty pleasure is fine wine.
Favorite vacation spot:
Anywhere in Europe, but Italy and France in particular for the art, food, wine, and architecture.
Last book read:
No Man’s Land: Where Growing Companies Fail, Doug Tatum – loved it! If you’re a small business owner, read it!!
November 29, 2018 – The Independence Business Alliance (IBA), Greater Philadelphia’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to begin the second year of Intersections: an award-winning event series focused on diverse business communities, in collaboration with Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and PHL Diversity.
Over the last year, the IBA hosted an immensely successful set of three introductory networking receptions to kick off the three-year Intersections series, which was awarded the 2018 NGLCC Excellence in Programming award at the NGLCC’s International Business and Leadership Conference hosted in Philadelphia in August 2018.
Year two of Intersections kicked off last night with a Hispanic and Latinx-focused panel discussion, and will be followed by events for the African-American and Asian-American communities in February and May, respectively.
This first panel focused on a frank exploration of privilege, prejudice, and collaborative success amongst the LGBTQ, Hispanic, and Latinx communities. The conversation was moderated by NBC10/T62 reporter and journalist, Miguel Martinez-Valle, and featured business and community leaders such as Tito Valdes of the City of Philadelphia Law Department, Alba Guzman of Comcast, and Joy Soto of WHYY.
“Diverse businesses are better businesses,” IBA Executive Director, Zach Wilcha said. “It’s better for everybody when you see representation, whether it’s sexual orientation, gender expression, racial or ethnic background. Diverse businesses have more ideas. They have better problem-solving skills and are proven to be more successful in the long run.”
The IBA is committed to Diversity and Inclusion and extends an invitation to anyone interested in learning more about intersectional issues in the business community to attend this highly anticipated event series. IBA is proud to partner with PHLCVB and PHL Diversity on this groundbreaking initiative.
September 19, 2018 – On September 18, IBA was thrilled to host our third annual Garden Party, in partnership with our friends and supporters at West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home. Each year, this event draws a crowd of new and familiar faces alike, to gather in one of our city’s most unique and scenic spaces for a special night of networking! This year’s event also featured a nonprofit IBA member, the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, who were on hand to promote their upcoming fundraiser, Cirque Masquerade.
Check out the photos here, and read on for a special message from WLH:
On behalf of West Laurel Hill Cemetery & Funeral Home, I’d like to thank all of you for coming out to support the IBA’s Annual Garden Party last night. We love nothing more than opening our gates to share with you our beautiful and historic grounds and now you know we are more than just a cemetery and funeral home – we are a certified arboretum, an outdoor sculpture garden, and a historical and cultural text that tells the stories of 19th, 20th and 21st century Philadelphia and the people who lived there. West Laurel Hill is also proud to be a resource for our community and offer programs year-round to bring the cemetery to life. We hold all kinds of tours to showcase our historic value and partner with many nonprofits in our community to host fundraising events in order to help support their mission. If you’re interested in attending any of our upcoming programs or to schedule a private tour, visit www.westlaurelhill.com/
events or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do hope you join us and get more familiar with us!
PS… Did you know our sister cemetery’s 14th Annual Gravediggers’ Ball fundraising gala benefiting The Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery will be held at the magnificent Masonic Temple on October 26th!?
August 21, 2018 – Last Tuesday, August 14th, the Independence Business Alliance hosted it’s largest ever event, welcoming over 900 LGBTQA professionals to Philadelphia for the 2018 NGLCC International Business and Leadership Conference.
The IBA transformed the iconic Reading Terminal Market into a vibrant haven for networking and celebrating the start of the world’s largest LGBT business conference. The event came to fruition after a year-long strategic effort by IBA Board, Staff, Members and Sponsors. The event was presented by IBA Corporate Partner, TD Bank.
Check out the top 10 moments from this historic event, below! All photos by the talented Flat World Media Productions – view the rest on Facebook here!
Guests arrived with a warm welcome from the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, and personal greetings from IBA Board Members.
Attendees delighted in the culinary offerings of some of the Market’s most popular vendors, and got a true taste of Philly to whet their appetite for the week ahead.
Sponsors shared giveaways and information about their services, and presenting sponsor TD welcomed guests to the extra special TD Lounge.
There was lots of team building to find the perfect group photo pose, all captured by Flat World Media Productions!
NGLCC President and Co-Founder, Justin Nelson, energized the crowd with a warm welcome to this year’s conference.
The band kept the tunes flowing, as guests paused to listen to the sounds of Philadelphia.
Attendees toured the historic Reading Terminal Market, finding a surprise around every corner!
Old friends and colleagues were reunited…
…and new friendships and connections formed.
Most of all, it was a night of incomparable networking, to forge new business relationships and strengthen the LGBTQ economy across the country and around the globe!
Special thanks to our incredible sponsors who made this event possible!
At TD Bank, we are committed to embracing diversity. Our mission is to cultivate a service-oriented, barrier-free culture that attracts, invests in, and promotes all talent, reflecting the diverse communities we serve.
We see people for who they are, and help them become whoever they want to be without judgment or preconceived ideas. For our customers, it’s listening to their needs and then providing trusted advice to help them achieve their financial goals, not based on what we assume they need. For our colleagues, it’s helping them accomplish their professional aspirations solely rooted in their talent and ambition, and never about how or where they were born, who they love, who they worship (or not), or how they identify.
It’s a lofty goal, but we’re well on our way.
We work to foster an inclusive environment where our customers feel welcome, and our colleagues feel safe bringing their whole selves to work. We embrace anyone with a drive to use their skills and abilities to bring our purpose – enriching the lives of our customers, colleagues and communities – to life. We know that the only way we can achieve our mission is by surrounding ourselves with colleagues who truly respect and reflect the diversity of our customers and the communities we serve.
How do we make our commitment to diversity and inclusion real? We place the same value on delivering against our success in this area as we do with our strategic and business objectives. Every leader in our organization is held accountable for our success by:
- Recruiting, developing, retaining and promoting the very best talent from all backgrounds
- Ensuring every one of our colleagues has access to challenging career opportunities and focused individualized development
- Providing tools to identify unconscious bias to all colleagues
- Supporting business resource groups dedicated to advocating for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ2+ community and veterans
- Providing an inclusive, barrier-free environment where every colleague and customer feels valued, heard, respected and supported in a nurturing environment of trust and belonging
- Serving the diverse needs of the communities where we work and live
- Conducting business with diverse suppliers
Additionally, in support of our mission, TD recently launched The Ready Commitment, targeting $1 billion by 2030, to maximize our impact by increasing financial security, elevating the quality of our environment, creating opportunities for everyone to participate in their communities; and supporting more equitable health outcomes for all, ensuring that our communities are ready for the future.
June 21, 2018 – The Independence Business Alliance (IBA) celebrated the close of its eleventh fiscal year on June 19th at the Hotel Monaco’s Stratus Lounge, with a crowd of over 150 LGBTQ and allied business leaders and community members.
IBA Executive Director, Zach Wilcha shared the addition of two new corporate partners that came aboard to support the IBA’s work in empowering the LGBTQ business community in Greater Philadelphia. Wilmington-based chemical company Chemours joined at the Gold Level, while GlaxoSmithKline was welcomed as a new Silver level partner.
The IBA’s Governance chair, Jeremy Gussick, ushered in a vote of the IBA membership which elected three new members to the IBA Board of Directors: Jerry Rice, of Cambria Hotel Philadelphia, Kanak Singh, of Ernst & Young, and Daniel Kredensor, of PNC Bank.
IBA Corporate Partner, Integrity Staffing Solutions, then presented the 2018 Business Integrity Award to Patient Care Coordination – a local, LGBT owned business that enhances quality of life for those who need assistive services.
Before the evening concluded, Executive Director Zach Wilcha also shared that the IBA will be providing voter registration forms at every event going forward, in an effort to incentivize the civic engagement of the LGBTQ business community.
As the Host Affiliate Chamber for the 2018 NGLCC Conference, the IBA will be hosting the Opening Night Reception – presented by TD Bank – for up to 1,000 Conference attendees at the Reading Terminal Market on Tuesday August 14th from 7-9 PM. This event will showcase our great City and business community on the national and international LGBT stage in style with exceptional food, drink and local entertainment (and maybe some surprises!)
So, how can you be a part of this special event? All event sponsors will receive complimentary tickets to the reception, at the rates detailed in our sponsorship packet. And of course, admittance to the opening night reception is included with your NGLCC Conference Registration!
Contact us to reserve your sponsorship now!