Spring has sprung, love is in the air, and folks, Pride Month is here! Is there a better time to feature our friends at the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber and the awesome work they do? They serve as a connector across the state, bringing the community together through business while advocating for civil rights and small business. The chamber is open to all sizes of business, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, yes that includes allies too! Keep reading as we interview Executive Director Liz Pitts below. ✨
UMLF: Liz, tell us about yourself and your journey with the chamber?
Liz: “I'm a Salt Lake City native and have for many years been a social justice activist and community volunteer in Utah and elsewhere. I served as the Utah Pride Festival Director in 2017 & 2018; was on the founding Board of Project Rainbow Utah and am one of the producing directors of the Redrox Music Festival. I earned bachelors degrees from the University of Utah in Women's Studies & Political Science and a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington. I'm a librarian by trade and worked for many years in enterprise system sales, technical sales operations, event management, and training before pivoting to a career in local LGBTQ+ non-profit work. I'm a mother and an avid skier. I love travel, live theater, all things outdoors, and I operate a ski lift in my spare time.
I joined the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber in 2019 and was immediately impressed with the entrepreneurial spirit and sense of community & affinity which permeates this group of hard-working, fun-loving business owners. In January of 2020 I joined the Chamber Board of Directors and helped to advance the programming and membership of the Chamber throughout the COVID pandemic. Up until November of 2021 the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce was a volunteer run organization. A very dedicated board of directors team, led by Tracey Dean, kept the Chamber growing steadily and the programming focused and impactful. It became very clear however that our growth and potential were outpacing our volunteer capacity, so the decision was made to hire our first-ever paid employee. I am honored to have been selected to fill this role and am excited to continue to work toward social justice for LGBTQ+ and allied business owners and contribute to the overall economic health of our State.”
UMLF: Y’all have a ton of fun events and happenings. Can you tell prospective members what they can expect?
Liz: “Yes, all work and no play... JK. Our annual flagship events are our springtime Queer Food FEASTival & Membership Drive and our Utah LGBTQ+ Economic Summit. Through these events we mix networking, education, and community connection to provide spaces for LGBTQ+ and allied business owners to come together, learn from and support each other, and have a great time while doing so! We also offer a number of educational workshops and networking events throughout the year including our 3rd Thursday breakfasts (being held on the Sugarhouse Coffee patio monthly throughout August - 7.30-9a ) and Taste of Success Best Damn Lunch & Learns. All of these events are open to chamber members and prospective members alike and, if you join in, you can expect lively conversation on topics of importance to LGBTQ+ business owners, lots of business referrals and a good time!”
Save the Dates:
- The 4th Annual Utah LGBTQ+ Economic Summit will be held September 22nd in the Zion's Bank Founders Room in downtown SLC and will be broadcast for remote attendance
- The 2023 Queer Food FEASTival will be held May 12th
UMLF: Tell us more about the LGBT-Owned Business Enterprise Certification and why business owners should consider applying?
Liz: “As an affiliate of the NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce), we offer guidance and support to local LGBTQ+ owned and operated businesses who choose to become LGBTBE (r) certified. Chamber members whose businesses are at least 51% LGBT owned are eligible to certify through the NGLCC free of charge. LGBTEBE (r) certification opens many doors for small business owners and opportunities to connect with and win contracts from local and national corporations, institutions of higher learning and government entities.”
UMLF: You also have an awesome program, Utah LGBTQ+ SafeZone. Can you share more about it?
Liz: “Absolutely! SafeZone Utah is the key program of the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber Foundation 501c3. SafeZone works to increase local business owners’ understanding of experiences and issues faced by LGBTQ+ community members, and to educate them about how they can take a leading role in the effort to provide allyship and create safe, inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ employees, customers and community. The goals of SafeZone Utah are to promote LGBTQ+ safety and sense of belonging statewide; to raise awareness among business owners about the importance of supporting LGBTQ+ inclusivity and equity; to reduce bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ people; and reduce suicide risk in the LGBTQ+ community.
We do this by offering free training to small businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the state; and offering the opportunity for businesses to become designated LGBTQ+ SafeZones, where community members can access resources, information, and safety, if needed. This effort is especially important in the many rural communities of Utah that lack culturally-competent, LGBTQ+ affirmative services and safe environments where members of the LGBTQ+ community can freely and safely express their identities and participate or see themselves represented in all spheres of community life, including leadership, government, business etc.”
UMLF: How can allies best support during Pride month and beyond?
Liz: “There are so many ways allies can support LGBTQ+ folx throughout the year and one great way is to support the local businesses who serve the community! Shop, eat, drink, get a new roof, find great health service providers and more in our member directory!”
❤️ - To stay in touch with the Chamber visit below -❤️