Connections – Advocating diversity

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 :: Connections
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna addresses the crowd at the LGBT Chamber of Commerce launch event in February while Jason Rae looks on (standing, second from left). The event was held at the Stone Cellar Brewpub in Appleton.

LGBT Chamber of Commerce holds launch event in Appleton

A new voice has joined Northeast Wisconsin’s business community and it’s coming from Appleton.

“This part of the state has really been at the forefront of diversity issues,” says Jason Rae, executive director of the Wisconsin LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Chamber of Commerce.

The group held a launch event last month to celebrate its new presence in Northeast Wisconsin. The city of Appleton was specifically chosen over other areas in the state.

“You’ve got great leaders like Mayor Tim Hanna, who’s been out there pushing for domestic partner benefits for employees, and (Outagamie) County Executive Tom Nelson. We’ve really seen a positive response from the business community here,” Rae explains.

The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is an organization of LGBT-owned and allied businesses and professionals. The group’s goal is to connect people within the business community to create economic opportunities by being an advocate and resource for all businesses that promote equality.

Kathy Flores, city of Appleton diversity coordinator, is a new member of the LGBT chamber. She says the launch event in Appleton shows the progress the region has made when it comes to business and diversity.

“We’ve come a long way as a community in that we recognize that economic development is tied into making sure everybody feels included in the Fox Cities,” says Flores.

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce held its first Wisconsin launch in Milwaukee last fall.


“Included” in the Fox Valley

Another initiative promoting acceptance of the LGBT community was launched in the Fox Valley in January. “Include Fox Cities” focuses on education and awareness, with a goal of changing attitudes about the LGBT community by educating both youth and adults on the effects of bullying and other behaviors. The four-month initiative wraps up on April 20 with a Night of Noise, a forum for students to share their views and experiences. For more information on Include and upcoming events visit:



Tuesday, March 5

The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its Business Expo 2013 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the KI Convention Center. Exhibitors include service industries, banks and financial institutions, retailers, health industries, tourist attractions, education and other industries. Admission is free with a ticket from any of the exhibitors. For more information, call Marilyn Heim at (920) 593-3419.


Thursday, March 7

Converting Influence will hold its sixth annual Converters Expo at Lambeau Field Atrium from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $40. The event includes Skybox Seminars on flexographic printing and industry outlook. Factory tours of companies in Green Bay, Appleton, Neenah and Wittenberg will be held on March 6 by appointment. For more information, go to


Wednesday, April 3

The St. Norbert College CEO Breakfast and Strategy Series will feature Paul Jadin, president of Thrive, whose presentation “Bold Economic Development Strategies for Wisconsin” will be from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Butte des Morts Country Club in Appleton. Cost is $60. To register, contact [email protected]


Thursday, April 25

Crane Engineering is hosting its 14th Tech Expo, “Driving Results Through Innovation” at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. New products from more than 35 top equipment manufacturers will be featured. The event is geared toward maintenance, engineering, operations and procurement professionals working in manufacturing and municipal water/wastewater facilities. For more information, visit