Six Easy Ways to Support LGBT-Owned Businesses

Six Easy Ways to Support LGBT-Owned Businesses

Support LGBT-friendly candidates and proposalsThe Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce serves a diverse membership of LGBT and allied business owners—those who support the Chamber’s values of diversity, inclusion and equality—from an eight-county region. Many non-LGBT business owners and professionals join the Chamber and attend our events to network and build business relationships with an audience they might not otherwise reach.

Recent advances in equal rights, including legalization of same-sex marriage and legislation and policies that provide new opportunity for LGBT businesses, have strengthened the economic profile of the U.S. LGBT population. According to the latest report from Witeck Communications, the buying power of LGBT Americans rose to $917 billion in 2015, an increase of approximately 3.7 percent over 2014 figures. Economic prosperity translates to family stability, economic development and jobs creation, and political influence. In a nutshell, equality is good for business… and a strong, prosperous business community is good for equality.

Here are a few ways that Chamber members and non-members can support LGBT equality and help us continue to build a diverse and inclusive Sacramento business community:

  1. Support LGBT-owned and allied businesses with your dollar. Looking to buy a gift, send flowers, hire a DJ, book a vacation, or find a new bank? Consider looking first for a LGBT-owned or allied business that can meet your needs. Use our convenient online Member Directory. Pick up a copy of Chamber member Outword Magazine, and see who is advertising there. Or visit MyRainbow Pages, another Chamber member. The businesses you will find there are ether LGBT-owned or those that care about reaching out to and serving the LGBT community.
  2. Join the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. The majority of the Chamber’s annual budget comes from membership dues. Anyone can become a Chamber member—annual cost of an individual (non-business) membership or non-profit membership is only $100; cost of a business membership, which includes listing in our online member director, free admission to Chamber mixers and events, and much more, starts at just $250 per year.
  3. Support RainbowPAC. Founded in 2012, RainbowPAC is the Chamber’s non-partisan, business-positive political action committee, dedicated to supporting LGBT-friendly candidates, legislation and public policy. Funded entirely by private donations, RainbowPAC was instrumental in the election of Sacramento’s first openly LGBT councilmember, Steve Hansen, and in the passage of state laws that have expanded opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses contracting with the State of California and corporations that do business with the state. Support RainbowPAC by attending our fundraising house parties and events, including our annual Crab Feed.
  4. Get LGBTBE Certified. If your business is at least 51 percent LGBT-owned, you are eligible for certification as an LGBT Business Enterprise through the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Cost of certification is regularly $400, but the fee is waived for Rainbow Chamber members.
  5. Sponsor an LGBT organization or event. Sacramento Rainbow Chamber offers a number of event sponsorship opportunities, ranging from our quarterly Membership Orientations to our annual installation and awards dinner held every September. Sacramento Pride held each June, the Gender Health Center’s annual Gender Bender Ball, Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus, and Sacramento International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival all offer opportunities for table sponsorships, program ads or auction donations—all great ways to spotlight your business and support the LGBT community.
  6. Advertise your own business or event in the LGBT media. The Sacramento area is fortunate to have Outword Magazine, published twice monthly in print, and RainbowPages, which produces a yearly printed directory of LGBT-owned and allied businesses as well as an online directory.

Upcoming Events

Membership Vote on New Board Members

2016-2018 Board Applicants

Nominations and board applications have been accepted and the Chamber’s Election Committee has put together the following slate of candidates to fill seven board positions:

  • Jonathon McKim- McKim Associates
  • Amy Hickey- Wells Fargo Bank
  • Fred Palmer- Outword Media
  • Don Hunt- California State University, Sacramento
  • Alfonso Sanchez- AAA NCNU Insurance
  • Ranveer Singh- Wells Fargo Bank
  • Richard Hernandez- St Francis Asissi Parish

More information about the candidates can be found in the Candidates Board Application Statements. Members will be asked to vote to approve this slate of candidates to fill 7 board positions for the 2016-2018 terms.

How to Vote

Online voting will take place August 10 through 3 p.m. August 16, 2016. Voting representatives will receive an email containing a link to vote.

In-person voting will take place at the Chamber mixer, August 16, 5:30 p.m. through 6:45 p.m., at SideTrax, 2007 K St.

Each member business or individual member has one vote, and you must be a Chamber member in good standing in order to vote.

State of the Chamber Message to RCC Members


Dear RCC Members,

On behalf of the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber Board of Directors, I’m wishing you a healthy, happy and successful 2014.

As we begin this year, the Board and I felt it was important to share with you some upcoming changes to our staffing and infrastructure and tell you about some exciting new programs and opportunities designed to help your business succeed and grow.

Executive Director Resignation

To begin with, we report with mixed emotions that Nikki Whitfield has resigned her position as Chamber Executive Director in order to pursue a new opportunity with St. John’s Women’s Shelter in Sacramento. Although we are saddened to lose Nikki’s charismatic leadership, energy and talent, we also understand that Nikki is following her heart in serving an organization that makes such an important contribution to our community. We wish her every success in her new position.

We are fortunate that Sara Freid continues to serve as our Business Manager. The Board is considering our staffing requirements pending a decision about recruitment for an Executive Director position.

RCC Website Redesign

Another big change is one that will be welcomed by many of you. Our Board and staff has heard from members that our Chamber website is not as user-friendly and easy to navigate as it could be. You spoke, and we listened.

We are pleased to announce the Chamber has contracted with LimeWorks Inc., an RCC member, to completely redesign our website. We also are in the process of converting our existing membership management system to ChamberMaster®, a powerful and easy-to-use system utilized by many of our sister LGBT chambers of commerce and other business organizations throughout the United States. As with any construction site, we know there will be a little bit of dust during the project, but once the new site is up and running, we will have a dynamic, informative website offering a greatly improved experience both for our members and members of the public who want to learn more about RCC. We expect the new site to be completed in spring 2014. The contract for website redesign was awarded to LimeWorks Inc. following a competitive RFP process.

National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Affiliation & Opportunities

RCC’s affiliation with NGLCC offers a number of opportunities benefiting our members and their businesses. Businesses that are at least 51% LGBT-owned are eligible for NGLCC’s LGBT Business Enterprise Certification, the only LGBT certification recognized by the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Certification puts you in touch with potential opportunities to do business with scores of NGLCC’s corporate partners in every major industry—names such as Wells Fargo, Ernst & Young, Wyndham Hotels, and IBM, to name just a few. Thanks to our affiliation with NGLCC, the cost of the $400 certification is waived for Rainbow Chamber members.

In 2014, NGLCC’s 11th Annual Business Leadership Conference, which brings together several hundred LGBT-certified businesses and the major corporate partners who want to do business with them for a three-day networking dream, will be held in Las Vegas, July 29-August 1. It’s affordable, close to home, and we hope to have a large contingent of RCC members in attendance. It is one of the best business conferences you will ever attend.

Last but not least, NGLCC is inviting RCC member businesses to participate in a remarkable internship program of the Add Us In Coalition. Participating employers will be matched with a prescreened, qualified intern whose education and skills meet the employer’s business needs. The best part is that a portion of the stipend paid to the interns will be reimbursed by Add Us In. One of our own RCC members, WriteAway Communications Services, hired two interns from the Add Us In program in 2013, with outstanding results. NGLCC’s Director of Affiliate Relations and Add Us In program staff will hold a free informational workshop about the program here in Sacramento on February 19th. We’ll keep you posted on time and location.

$25 Discount on Exhibit Space at LGBT Wedding Expo

RCC is teaming up with member Outword Media Marketing & Events and Details Details Events & Conference Planning to co-host the second Sacramento LGBT Wedding Expo Tuesday, February 18th, 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the Red Lion Woodlake Hotel. This event will correspond with RCC’s February Monthly Mixer, and we hope all of you will attend and enjoy the party! Attendance is free for both members and guests, but be sure to let us know you’re coming by registering at

As event co-sponsors, RCC members will receive a $25 discount off the $350 exhibit space. Hundreds attended the first expo, held in August 2013, and many of the couples attending found photographers, caterers, venues, décor, wedding couture and jewelry to create the weddings of their dreams. February’s mixer will be a great place to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, cake and wine tastings and the sounds of dueling DJs while your friends strut and model in House of Fashion’s bridal fashion show.


RainbowPAC is the Chamber’s non-partisan political action committee founded in 2012. Under the leadership of PAC Chair Paul Weubbe, we are launching a broad-based outreach campaign targeted both to members of the LGBT community who are not currently members of RCC and to members of allied communities. RainbowPAC fills a unique role in our city and state by marrying the values of equality, diversity and inclusion with support for pro-business candidates and ballot initiatives. Stay tuned for news about upcoming fundraising events and candidate endorsement meetings. Only RCC members will be able to vote on candidate endorsements.

Our first RainbowPAC event of 2014 will be a Champagne Brunch fundraiser at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 25, generously hosted and sponsored by the Dante Club! We hope to see all of you there. To register, please visit and click on the registration link.

Rainbow Chamber Foundation

Our non-profit Foundation, led by Chamber Vice President Joey O’Shea, is starting the year with an outreach campaign to Sacramento-region high schools, community colleges and universities. Since 2007, the Rainbow Chamber Foundation has awarded 22 scholarships to LGBT or LGBT-supportive students, funded entirely by Chamber fundraising efforts such as our Annual Gala and raffles at our monthly mixers.

For 2014, we are proud to announce a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) Scholarship, generously funded by RCC corporate sponsor SMUD!

Monthly Mixers

Our new Events Committee, led by RCC Board Member David Andersen, is busy making plans for exciting mixers and other events in 2014. Our Monthly Mixers will continue to be held every third Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at a different member-provided location each month.

We look forward to seeing all of you at our New Year Mixer on Tuesday, January 21, at Jackson Catering & Events, 1120 Fulton Avenue, Suite N, Sacramento, CA 95825, sponsored by A&A Music Events. Visit our events calendar for more details and to register.


The members of the RCC board and I are honored to have the opportunity to help our Chamber and our Sacramento business community thrive and grow. Yet, we can’t be successful without the support and participation of our members. Let us know how we can provide you and your business better value for your membership. What new educational programs, networking events, community resources or advocacy do you need to succeed?

Finally, we need your help to provide the future leadership that will enable our Chamber to continue growing. We need committee members, event volunteers, community ambassadors and future Board members. One of the best ways to benefit from your RCC membership is to get involved, by contributing your time, skills and business savvy to strengthen our Chamber. Let’s make new friendships, build more relationships and discover the potential customers and partners that will help our businesses succeed in 2014.



Michael Sestak
President, Board of Directors

Meet RCC’s New Board of Directors!


Left to right: Paul Weubbe, Griselda Barajas, Jennifer Kennedy, Secretary Leticia Juarez, Vice President Joey O’Shea, Immediate Past President Darrick Lawson, President Michael Sestak, Joe Klegseth, Treasurer Jerry Dunlap and David Andersen

The Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has elected Michael Sestak, owner of Sestak Lighting Design, as president for the 2013-2014 term. Sestak succeeds Dr. Darrick Lawson of Healing Hands Chiropractic. Other newly elected officers are Vice President Joey O’Shea of David Sobon Auctions; Secretary Leticia Juarez of AAA Insurance; and Treasurer Jerry Dunlap, owner of Hairplay Salon and Spa.

The Chamber elected five new members to its board of directors for two-year terms. The newly elected board members are Dunlap, Juarez, Griselda Barajas of Griselda’s Catering and Event Planning, Jennifer Kennedy of Perfection Home Systems Heating & Air, and Paul Weubbe of Billy’s Tree Farm. Four incumbent members will remain on the board for the final year of their two-year terms: Sestak, O’Shea, David Andersen of Wells Fargo, and Joe Klegseth of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau. Three members stepping down from the board are Stefan Murphy of Motif Investing, Bonnie Osborn of WriteAway Communications Services, and Ben Phillips-Leseñana of GHS Interactive Security.

Executive Director Nikki Whitfield, who joined the organization in August, and the new officers and board members were formally introduced to the membership at the Chamber’s “Gay-sino Royale,” held Sept. 17 at Vizcaya in Sacramento.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve as president of the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce at this exciting time of growth and change,” Sestak said. “Over the past 12 years, our Chamber has successfully advocated for LGBT business owners and helped create an inclusive business environment in Sacramento. With Nikki on the team, and with a strong, capable board behind her, we have the capacity to strengthen our financial foundation and expand our reach.”

“It has been great to see the high caliber of board members and officers who have stepped up, ready and willing to help move our Chamber forward,” Lawson said. “I have enormous confidence in Nikki and our new leadership, and I know the Chamber is in good hands.”

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