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Congrats to 2022 PNC LGBT Business Award Winner, Beyond the Bell Tours!

Philadelphia, PA (May 2022) – The Independence Business Alliance is excited to announce the recipient of the 12th Annual PNC Bank $5,000 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. This year, the award goes to LGBTQ-focused Beyond the Bell Tours in Philadelphia!
 
Beyond the Bell tours are a social enterprise committed to “Putting the People Back in People’s History.” They create inclusive historical walking tours of Philadelphia highlighting marginalized communities, peoples, and histories. They tell stories of people they love and admire. People who have shaped our city through movements, activism, and resistance.
 
Rebecca Fisher (she/her/hers), who co-founded the business with Joey Leroux (he/him/his), had this to say about what the $5,000 means to their organization: “In this moment while anti-LGBTQ+ laws are being passed across the country, we are heading towards light and love by celebrating our LGBTQ  ancestors who have fought for our rights before us on our 2022 Pride Trolley Tour. We are grateful to IBA and PNC for their support in helping us tell LGBTQ stories with pride this June.”
 
IBA Executive Director Zach Wilcha says, “We are incredibly grateful for PNC’s commitment to our organization and the our community’s small businesses. As a founding corporate partner of the IBA, their PNC LGBT Business Award has impacted innovative and creative businesses for 11 years now, and we can’t wait to celebrate future winners.”
 
Congratulations to Beyond the Bell Tours, and all of the other incredible applicants!
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Membership Spotlight: Mark Katelhon (he/him/his)

Description of product or service:
I am a Financial Advisor who helps LGBTQ clients gain financial clarity in today’s fast paced times. I have an unequalled passion for educating people in the LGBT community on retirement planning risks and protecting themselves and their loved ones. I have almost 30 years experience in serving the community in the areas of life & disability insurance, group health plans as well as investments and wealth management. My clients include individuals, professionals, small businesses and their families.

How many years have you been with company or in business?
I have been with Lincoln Financial for 3 years and in the financial services business for almost 30 years.

What company or organization you respect most and why?
I greatly respect Inter-American University in San Juan Puerto Rico. They treated me as one of their own the entire time I attended the English-speaking trimester program. IAU is middle states accredited by the Middle States Higher Education Association in Philadelphia. The University was founded in 1902 and has an ABA accredited Law school as well. If I come into a lot of money, I will remember IAU in my estate plans.

Which business leader or innovator do you most want to emulate and why?
Probably Mark Segal from the PGN. He is an innovator, publisher and author and believes in our community. He refused to back down from politicians or the police when it was dangerous to do so and we all have benefited from the inroads that he paved for us. His courage has enabled the local LGBT community to thrive and prosper.

What is the most important business decision you’ve made to date?
The two most important business decisions I have made are joining the IBA and transitioning my financial insurance and investment practice over to Lincoln Financial from another company.

What is the most important life decision you’ve made to date?
The most important life decision that I made was to go back to graduate school in 1993 and earn an MBA in 1996 from Inter American University in San Juan, PR. It was a totally rewarding experience. I was immersed in a Spanish speaking environment both at school and in everyday life on the island. Additionally, Puerto Rico has a rich and diverse LGBT community. In fact, it was someone from the LGBT community, Ben Gillespie that started the St. Patrick’s Day parade on the island.

When and why did you join the IBA?
I joined the IBA to make friends and create new business contacts in the LGBT community. I could not think of a better way to accomplish both objectives. And the IBA staff has been supportive as well giving us platforms to meet people such as the Virtual Coffee hour and Connx.

Since joining the IBA, what has been the greatest advantage to you and your business being a member of the Chamber?
The greatest advantage to joining the IBA has been to give me access to business, professionals and entrepreneurs in the LGBT community. Joining the IBA has opened doors that otherwise would not have been opened.

What is your proudest moment, honor, or achievement?
My proudest achievement was obtaining a 3.88/4.0 MBA in Finance and Marketing from IAU

What programs, outreach, or organizations are you involved in that give back to the community?
I have been a sponsor for the Elder Care Initiative as well as have participated in their events. Supporting LGBT seniors is a passion of mine. I have also provided free workshops at the William Way Center over the years on different financial topics to all that show up. I met a lot of diverse and really nice people there.

What is a little known fact about you?
I’m really shy and had to overcome this by practicing public speaking and standing in front of a mirror memorizing a speech until it became second nature.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I like to explore new restaurants in the city and suburbs. Especially Fishtown and Northern Liberties.

To date, what has been your most favorite vacation spot?
My favorite vacation spot over the years has been the Island of Puerto Rico. Since my first trip there in 1986, I have been back and forth at least 40-50 times. I liked it so much that I moved there to attend graduate school. The weather is great, and the people are very friendly. I also like Fort Lauderdale and Orlando for quick get-a-ways.

What is the last book you read?
“I will teach you to be Rich” by Ramit Sethi

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IBA COVID-19 Resource Guide

In an effort to best serve our members and the LGBTQ+ business community, we have complied a PDF of relevant resources related to implications of COVID-19.
We will keep this document updated as changes are made. If there is something that you believe should be on this list, please forward the information to kai@thinkiba.com.

PDF File:
IBA COVID-19 Resource Guide

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Member Spotlight: Braxton Fleming (he/him/his)

Description of product or service:
We are a luxury supply company that specializes in Hormone Replacement Dopp Kits for the transgender and allied communities. Our mission is to give shot day a better overall experience, by offering a sleek product that keeps your HRT/Personal Needs organized and prepared no matter where you are. We are travel friendly but also used right at home. We know how stressful life can be and adding on medication weekly, or biweekly. We make taking your shot a breeze, no matter where you are.

How many years have you been with company or in business?
3

What company or organization you respect most and why?
The organization that I respect the most is NGLCC, they have welcomed me into the chamber like I was their son. There is no other business-related organization of such caliber that makes you feel like family as much as the members of NGLCC.

Which business leader or innovator do you most want to emulate and why?
I look up to Gary Vaynerchuck hands down the greatest entrepreneur of our time, his whole persona and go getter attitude with the most gracious empathy for all people while creating and making heart-felt content. The fact he honors and respects his parents for raising him the way they did, for him to become such a great influencer of our time. This is special to me because I believe both of my parents had a major impact on my current status as an adult today. I owe them everything that is coming to me because they place the wisdom, integrity and strength within me to make it this far.

What is the most important business decision you’ve made to date?
The very first business decision I made was the most important, it was to weigh the risk with reward to start this brand. Without taking that huge risk of losing it all was one of the biggest decisions to get this brand started.

What is the most important life decision you’ve made to date?
Most important life decision was to transition, I honestly felt as though I was in fetus form before my transition. It was necessary to become who I am today because I wouldn’t be where I am at this very moment, that major life shift has put me on a track where I feel my most confident and focused.

When and why did you join the IBA?
I recently join the IBA in 2020, because I was invited to NYC Chamber Event in late 2019 and the warmth and networking connections there made me want to became a member of Chamber within my own community.

Since joining the IBA, what has been the greatest advantage to you and your business being a member of the Chamber?
The networking opportunities and the ability to help people reach one another within our LGBTQ community even if their current status doesn’t hold value to you, it may be of help to someone else you know. The sharing and caring of business is the greatest advantage.

What is your proudest moment, honor, or achievement?
My proudest moment was when I was explaining this business idea to my father who is also an entrepreneur, and I said “Dad I ordered 300 bags to kick start my business!” and when I explain what I was doing and the business plan behind it, he replied “Do you think 300 bags is enough?!” At that moment I knew I had something of great need for my community and not only did I know it but the man I always looked up to confirm its’ greatness.

What programs, outreach, or organizations are you involved in that give back to the community?
We have worked with several transgender own businesses to help promote and give back to the community. Such as Point of Pride Organization, Black Trans TV, Flavnt Streetwear and many more. We also have a special fund where portions of our sales goes to our Stealth Bros Support Fund, where we give back yearly to the transgender community whether it be help with Top Surgery Funds or ordinary transgender supplies that are needed for our daily living.

What is a little known fact about you?
I am obsessed with the gym; it is an essential part of my daily growth and overall mental health.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I do love to indulge on a good cigar with a nice glass of cognac on ice.

To date, what has been your most favorite vacation spot?
My favorite vacation spot thus far has to be California, I truly love California.

What is the last book you read?
7 Daily Habits of Highly Effective People

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Presenting: Our IBA Holiday Party 2019 Sponsors!

We are so grateful to this dynamic group of LGBTQ+ and allied supporters. Thank you all for your support of the Independence Business Alliance!

Presenting Sponsor
Philly AIDS Thrift | Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room

Hospitality Sponsors
The Curtis Atrium by Constellation Culinary
Industry and Commerce Imageworks

Cheer Sponsors
44 Business Capital
Borgata
Independence Blue Cross
PHLDiversity

Good Tidings Sponsors
Gian-Grasso, Tomczak, & Hufe, P.C.
GSK
KASHIYAMA
Tavern Group

Silver Bell Sponsors
Berner Klaw
Broadway Grille
Cuba Libre
Dr. Michelle Angello
Fulton Bank
Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia
Insperity
Integrity Staffing Solutions
Live Nation
Metropolis
MTR Therapy
Phillies
Sellers Dorsey

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TransWork Program Grows in 2019

TransWork is a program of the Independence Business Alliance, Greater Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, and represents its commitment to helping all members of our community access economic opportunity. This program, made up of a cohort of trans and gender non-conforming IBA Board Members and community members, fills a critical gap for addressing un- and under-employment by connecting transgender and gender non-binary job seekers and entrepreneurs to a network of supportive employers and business partners. We have seen much growth in 2019, including a job prep workshop and job fairs! Visit the TransWork website at https://transwork.org/ to learn more about upcoming events.

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IBA Partners with Fox Rothschild for Law-Related Programming!

The IBA is thrilled to announce a new collaboration in law-related programming with Corporate Partner Fox Rothschild. Several times a year, we will be bringing you the latest in legal topics through a series of programs designed to help everyone from lawyers to business owners to employees stay up to date.

In September, Fox Rothschild attorney and Independent Business Alliance Executive Committee member-at-large Brian McGinnis facilitated the first in a series of programs on timely topics facing IBA members. This presentation focused on trends in employment law at the state and federal levels. Attendees received practical takeaways about what companies need to know, including questions that may arise when hiring, employing or terminating individuals who identify as LGBTQ.

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IBA’s Member2Member Discount Program

Team IBA would like to thank you our members for your membership and continued support of the IBA! We are continuously striving to provide the best possible experience for our members. We are re-introducing a member-to-member discount program in order to help our member businesses grow and increase their exposure to the community.

To post a member discount, just log into your account here. You’ll see a tab for Member Benefits in the main menu bar. Click “Post & Manage Benefits” to add a special discount or rebate for your fellow IBA members.

Thank you for helping us to launch this important member benefit!

-The IBA Membership Committee

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IBA + IBX LGBTQ Health Fair

The Health Fair is back! This one-of-a-kind event, in combination with our popular monthly ConnX mixer, will take place on Monday, October 21st from 5pm to 7:30pm at Independence LIVE space, conveniently located at 20th and Market in Center City, Philadelphia.
This third annual LGBTQ health & wellness event will provide unique opportunities for IBA members to purchase vending space, and all are welcome to attend, network, and learn more about LGBTQ-friendly wellness services in our community.
The Health Fair will also feature cooking and exercise demonstrations, all set in a state-of-the-art space that is dedicated to wellness. In addition to drawing our regular ConnX crowd, this event will be highly publicized and open to the public.

We welcome any health or wellness related businesses to join us by tabling! (Nutrition, fitness, stress management, family health, financial health, legal, dental, hospitals, technology, massage, etc.)

We look forward to celebrating the wellbeing of the community with you!

Register here

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Summer 2019 Events at IBA!

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IBA/DVLF Award $5K Scholarship to Andreas Copes

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.

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