CHARLOTTE, N.C. — LGBT business owners and community leaders were awarded last night at a fundraising dinner for the Charlotte Business Guild, the city’s LGBT business and professionals organization.
Former Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts was awarded the group’s Community Bridge Builder award. Roberts also gave the dinner’s keynote address.
“There is a lot of history, heart and struggle in this community,” Roberts said of LGBT Charlotteans’ quest for inclusion.
Roberts was among the leaders who pushed for expanded LGBT protections at the county level.
“We want to be a city that represents and embraces diversity,” she said.
Also awarded was Dan Mauney, who received the group’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. Mauney’s new retail stores, Shu and Brief, hosted the Guild’s dinner in its special event space.
Wesley Mancini was honored as the group’s Person of the Year. Mancini was an early funder of LGBT and arts projects in Charlotte, following controversy over public arts funding in 1997 and a performance of the gay and AIDS-themed play, “Angels in America.”
Bert Woodard, who served on Mancini’s foundation, accepted the award on behalf of Mancini, who was unable to attend.
“His grants weren’t huge, but they made such a difference early on in this community,” Woodard said of the early days of the Wesley Mancini Foundation. “Wesley Mancini believed that LGBT people should work hard to get involved in the larger community. He really was a visionary.”
A surprise award was also given to outgoing Charlotte Business Guild President Teresa Davis. The group’s board created the Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be named after Davis, and praised her for her work in creating a more diverse board and membership.
“We have to remain vigilant about reaching out to all the people afraid of joining our community,” Davis said, citing the need for more progress in rural areas and communities of faith.
Davis said her group remains committed to forward progress. The membership organization is currently in the process of nominating new board officers and members. A board election will be held on Dec. 11. For more information, visit charlottebusinessguild.org.