The 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2016 Business Leader of the Year Michael Sestak (2nd from left) with Chamber President Richard Hernandez, Board Member Fred Palmer and Immediate Past President Paul Weubbe. Photo: Monica Neumann Lunardi photo artist
The Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce has named Michael Sestak, founder and owner of Sestak Lighting Design, as its 2016 Business Leader of the Year. Sestak is a former Chamber board member and president who initiated a partnership with the Sacramento Kings to facilitate contracting opportunities for small, local businesses during construction of the Golden 1 Arena. As a Chamber leader, Sestak also played an important role in garnering support for AB 1678, which requires companies regulated by the California Public Utility Commission to include LGBT-owned businesses in their supplier diversity efforts.
“I am extremely proud of Michael Sestak and his selection as Business Leader of the Year for the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce,” said Chamber President Richard Hernandez. “Michael and I both had the opportunity to open the Hyatt Regency Sacramento in 1988. Through the years it has been a pleasure to see Michael grow into the successful business person that he has become in Sacramento. In addition, Michael has contributed in so many charitable ways to support our LGBT community. Congratulations, Michael.”
“It’s a real honor to be chosen as the Business Leader of the Year for 2016,” Sestak said. “Through leadership and community activism for our LGBT community, I accept this award and look forward to promoting our fellow members and their businesses.”
The Business Leader of the Year is selected by a panel of Chamber and community leaders and recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership success within his or her business and the business community as well as within the Sacramento LGBT community and who has and will continue to serve as a role model for the Greater Sacramento community.
Sestak launched his lighting design business in 2000 following a successful culinary career, beginning at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and later serving as pastry chef at Sacramento’s then newly opened Hyatt and at Mace’s, Biba’s, and Ettore’s European Bakery. After obtaining his California Contractors C-10 license and developing his technical skills through courses provided by SMUD and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, he built his business creating custom-designed installations for high-profile clients in the Sacramento area, such as Mark Friedman, Michael Lyon, Lina and Ken Fat, Jeanne Reaves, Cecilia Delury and Vince Jacobs.
Sestak’s commercial and residential lighting projects include the award-winning exterior lighting design for the California Governor’s Mansion, the interior lighting at Badlands nightclub, and the red-blue glow lighting at the top of the L Street Lofts. Most recently Sestak designed the colored lighting features in the UPRR underpass entryway and Clubhouse at the newly opened McKinley Village development in East Sacramento.
Established in 2001, the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce is a regional chamber serving LGBT business owners and professionals in northern California, as well as straight allies who support its mission of fostering a prosperous, diverse and inclusive business climate.
Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Board Elects Richard Hernandez
President Richard Hernandez. Photo: Monica Neumann Lunardi photo artist
The Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has elected Richard Hernandez as Board President, the organization’s first Hispanic president since its founding in 2001. Hernandez, along with other newly elected Chamber board members and officers, will be sworn into office by Sacramento Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg at the Chamber’s 2016 Awards & Scholarship Dinner Thursday, Sept. 15, at Dante Club.
“I am proud of our Chamber’s accomplishments and growth over the past several years, and it is my honor to serve as its president,” Hernandez said. “Rainbow Chamber has helped expand opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses throughout California through the legislative process, led efforts to designate the Lavender Heights neighborhood and install the landmark Rainbow Crosswalk, and contributed to the economic growth of our community. With the support of the outstanding business leaders and professionals who make up our board, I am confident we will continue to build on our achievements in the coming year.”
Hernandez, who was elected to the Chamber board in 2014, currently serves as Director of Outreach for St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Sacramento and is active in many church ministries, including the church’s LGBT ministry. He previously worked for Hyatt Regency, helping to open the Hyatt Regency Sacramento in 1988, and serving as its Director of Human Resources until his retirement from that position earlier this year. Hernandez formerly served on the Sacramento and California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce boards of directors. He is a Viet Nam veteran and holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from University of California, Santa Barbara.
2016-17 Rainbow Chamber Board of Directors sworn in by Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg. Photo: Monica Neumann Lunardi photo artist
Also elected to Chamber officer positions were Kammy Caruss, owner of digital marketing firm YNot Web, vice president; Don Hunt of California State University, Sacramento, treasurer; Alfonso Sanchez, of Northern California AAA, secretary; and Diana DePaola of Intrinsic Insurance Services, chair of the Chamber’s 501(c)(3) Rainbow Chamber Foundation. Board members at large for 2016 are Ranveer Singh of Wells Fargo; Joy Reinhardt of Dante Club; Amy Medina of Wells Fargo; Michael Reilly of Michael Reilly Agency-Farmers Insurance; Robin Shofner of Molsby & Bordner, LLP; Jonathan McKim of McKim Architectural; Fred Palmer of Outword Media Marketing Events; and Paul Weubbe of Billy’s Farm and Laughton Property Management, who is immediate past president.
“It has been a privilege to serve as Chamber president for the past two years,” Weubbe said. “Richard Hernandez brings great team-building skills, extensive experience in chamber leadership, and a passion for making our community a better place. He is the perfect leader to keep the Chamber’s positive momentum going.”
Among its accomplishments over the past year, Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce led fundraising efforts for installation of a Rainbow Crosswalk in Lavender Heights, commemorating Sacramento’s historic LGBT neighborhood; took over production of monthly Drag Queen Bingo events, raising more than $30,000 for local non-profit organizations; increased its membership by nearly 50 percent; endorsed 14 candidates for office in the 2016 primary election through its non-partisan RainbowPAC affiliate; and won a 2016 National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Community Impact Award.
Established in 2001, the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce is a regional chamber serving LGBT business owners and professionals across the Sacramento Valley, as well as straight allies who support its mission of fostering a prosperous, diverse and inclusive business climate.
July 1, SACRAMENTO—The Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce has taken over operation of Sacramento’s long-standing monthly charity fundraising event, Drag Queen Bingo. Under the management of Outword Media Marketing Events, the Bingo fundraising event has raised more than $100,000 for local non-profit organizations since its inception in August 2009. Under the Chamber’s management, it will continue to be held monthly, from 7 to 9 p.m. on first Thursdays at Mango’s, 1930 K Street in Midtown Sacramento, with a different organization benefiting each month. The Thursday, July 2, event will benefit the Chamber’s non-profit Rainbow Chamber Foundation, which provides academic scholarships for LGBT and LGBT-supportive students. The August 6 game will benefit the Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (SIGLFF), and the September 3 game will benefit Camellia Gay Softball Tournament.
“The Outword team and I are very proud of the support we have provided for local non-profit organizations with Drag Queen Bingo,” said Fred Palmer, president and publisher of Outword Media Marketing Events. “One of the best things about the event is that it has raised funds for all kinds of organizations and has brought together people from all Sacramento communities.
“The event is still successful and more popular than ever. But I have taken on other business and personal commitments, and it is simply time for us to let another organization take it on. We felt very strongly that we wanted to be sure Drag Queen Bingo would be operated by an organization with a solid staff and volunteer base and the infrastructure to keep it going and make it even better,” Palmer continued. “We have confidence that the Chamber will be a good steward of the event.”
Sacramento Rainbow Chamber President Paul Weubbe said Chamber board members and volunteers will run the monthly games and plan to preserve the event’s somewhat bawdy ambiance. Drag personalities Rusty Nails, Felicity Diamond and Do Me Moore will continue to emcee the events.
“The Chamber board is honored to take on the mission of continuing this great event that has done so much good in our community,” Weubbe said. “We’re excited to have the opportunity and want to use it as a way of connecting our LGBT community and causes with the greater Sacramento community. And we know it will be a lot of fun!”
A broad range of organizations have benefitted from the Bingo fundraisers, including WEAVE, Alzheimer’s Association, NorCal AIDS Cycle, Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus, Sacramento LGBT Community Center, Gender Health Center, and Front Street Animal Shelter, to name just a few. Beneficiaries currently are scheduled through the end of 2015. The August 6 game will benefit the Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (SIGLFF), and the September 3 game will benefit Camellia Gay Softball Tournament. Each beneficiary organization is responsible for providing Bingo prizes and volunteers to staff the event. Organizations typically raise between $500 and $1,500 per game. Organizations wishing to be beneficiaries of future Drag Queen Bingo events may email email@example.com or call the Rainbow Chamber office at 916-266-9630.
Established in 2001, the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce is a regional chamber serving LGBT business owners and professionals in a six-county area, as well as straight allies who support our mission of fostering a prosperous, diverse and inclusive business climate.