The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce will host its fifth annual Business Equality Conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
The theme for this year’s conference, “Connecting Passion to Product,” will focus on entrepreneurism and advocacy in the workplace. These messages will be reinforced by the two headlining speakers for the day: Judy Dlugacz, CEO and founder of Olivia Cruise Lines, and Mitchell Gold, chairman and co-founder of the furniture brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
In addition, breakout sessions led by a variety of experts will address such topics as the importance of becoming a certified LGBT business enterprise, transgender issues in the workplace; the value of mentorship and more.
Dlugacz is a pioneering businesswoman who began a lesbian-focused record label (Olivia Records) in 1973. Based on the success of the label and the high demand for her artists’ performances, she merged her two passions – music and travel – to form Olivia Cruise Lines in 1990. The firm offered guests high-end vacations that included top entertainment acts such as Margaret Cho and the Indigo Girls in a welcoming, exclusively lesbian environment.
“I am looking forward to my time in Kansas City presenting to the MAGLCC,” Dlugacz said. “Organizations such as these often play pivotal roles in the career development and advancement of their members. My own professional journey has been significantly impacted by the people I surrounded myself with, and I’m excited to share those experiences with this audience.”
Gold, along with his business partner Bob Williams, co-founded his company in 1989 in the rural town of Taylorsville, North Carolina. From the start, the company’s mission has been to create elegant, style-forward furnishings, upholstery and home accessories that are American-made and eco-friendly. The brand has created designs for other major retailers, as well as TV shows and fine hotels. In addition, a growing number of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Signature stores, one of which opened in Leawood, Kansas, in 2015, exclusively carry the company’s products.
“In addition to Ms. Dlugacz and Mr. Gold’s participation, we are honored that an impressive array of Kansas City business leaders will participate in the Business Equality Conference,” said Danny Zaslavsky, board president of the MAGLCC. “This is a unique opportunity for the LGBT community and their allies to come together at the table of business to talk about smart business practices, to encourage and support one another, and most importantly, to receive insight and learn from one another. This conference will have innovative and dynamic programming that cannot be found at any other business conference.”
The conference is co-chaired by Jim Giles, director of council and community relations for the office of Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James, as well as Adam Gebhardt, marketing manager for the KC Experience at Cerner Corp.
To register for the conference, at $75 for members of the MAGLCC and $125 for non-members, go to www.MAGLCC.org.