Nashville LGBT Chamber announces Excellence in Business Award nominees

​The Nashville LGBT Chamber, headed by Executive Director Lisa Howe, announced the nominees for their 2014 Excellence in Business Awards, presented by Curb Records. The nominees were announced last night at the chamber’s March networking function, Brewing Up Business, held at The Label.


The 2014 Excellence in Business Awards will be held Friday, April 25 at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown.

The nominations are as follows:


Get to know the nominees for Ally Award:

Dr. Linda Brunton, Professor of Psychology, Lead Faculty for the Psychology Dept.,

Columbia State Community College

“I donʼt make a big splash with my activism. Rather, I seem to affect lives on a smaller scale and in a more personal way.”

In an optional assignment Dr. Brunton asks students to wear a rainbow ribbon for a day and write a one-page reaction paper to the experience. It’s an assignment she has used in her classes for many years and it comes from a 2004 American Psychological Association Publication. Last year, a studentʼs father contacted conservative legislators and a conservative Christian organization claiming that Dr. Brunton discriminated against the students based on religion, forced her students to participate and told them they were ignorant and uneducated. The claims were reported by local and national media and eventually an HR investigation cleared her of all accusations. As a result of the negative media attention, a former student started Columbia Stateʼs first Gay-Straight Alliance, which the administration approved. Dr. Brunton continues to use the ribbon assignment and educate students about LGBT issues.


Carla Fenswick, Attorney; Partner, Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP

“These courageous people deserve the support of groups and individuals from outside of the LGBT community. I donʼt want to look back and remember that I was silent when I could have raised my voice.”

Carla works with Vanderbilt Law Schoolʼs OUTLaw students as a mentor and provides insight specific to the challenges that LGBTQ attorneys could face in a relatively conservative market like Nashville. Initiated Wallerʼs sponsorship of Stonewall Bar, corporate membership in the LGBT Chamber, and participation in Ally Week. Carla was successful in getting 63 attorneys, paralegals, and staff members to declare their support for LGBTQ youth with Facebook photos. Carla provides pro bono legal clinics and educational programs with VU Law School and with Lambda Legal. Carla and her husband are also members of the HRC Federal Club.


Chris Robinette, Financial Planner, Capital Financial Group

“I think we should all support and show support for the things and people we believe in.”

Chris uses his financial planning expertise to educate LGBT individuals and couples how to prepare for their future with, and now, without DOMA. Protecting families and loved ones is achieved through not only Chriseducation of the LGBT community but also sharing best practices with other planners and advisors at his firm. Chris has laid the groundwork for his firm to be a trusted source for the greater Nashville LGBT market. Chris defines his contribution to the LGBT community as support, education, and financial planning. Actively recruiting people and businesses to join the LGBT Chamber, Chris personally sponsored Tastefully Unpredictable last year.


Jennifer Schwartzenberg, Director, Community Initiatives, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

“As our city continues to grow, I encourage those around me to talk to each other, collaborate, and actively participate so that Nashville can become a more informed and tolerant city.”

Jennifer works on two CFMT initiatives that enable her to help co-workers and peers become more knowledgeable about Nashvilleʼs LGBT community— and Jennifer has strategically set up NowPlayingNashville.comto include LGBT events and make them easily accessible to the community. Through her role overseeing and for CFMT, Jennifer ensures that the LGBT community is represented positively through these websites and social media platforms. Jennifer and her husband contribute annually to The Brooks Fund, which has granted over $200,000 to local LGBT nonprofit organizations.


Frank Weightman, Partner, Radian Partners

“I canʼt help but smile at the irony of being honored for doing what is right. The evil of LGBT discrimination is being confronted and will fall. The LGBT community is part of my family.”

Through Frankʼs financial education initiative, Radian Partners has developed strategic relationships with leading financial service providers, CPAʼs, and diversity managers of leading Nashville area employers to promote a broader awareness and deeper understanding of the unique financial issues facing members of the LGBT community. Over the course of his financial experience, Frank has discovered that there are low levels of financial understanding among LGBT couples and others about building wealth wisely, property rights, adoptions, Social Security, wills and estates, health care representatives, financial and retirement planning. Frank has collaborated with LGBT Chamber members to provide the support and actionable information LGBT couples need to protect themselves and their families.

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