The Advocacy? It’s Mutual

Adam Gebhardt smiles when he talks about his work. Yes, really. It’s not something you see every day, and his genuine enthusiasm and passion are catching.

As marketing director for Tivol, the family-owned, high-end jewelry store in Kansas City, Gebhardt leads the three-person team that is responsible for all external communications. They handle everything from publishing a magazine and developing commercials to coordinating social media and planning events.

“I have my hand on a number of different projects, and it keeps life very interesting,” he said.

Growing up in Fayette, Mo. (population: 2,688), Gebhardt was a curious kid with a creative streak. He had a penchant for design and loved to write, but didn’t pin down what he wanted to do professionally until he arrived at Truman State University in 1996. Majoring in communications, Gebhardt focused his energy on journalism and marketing. “There, I could do graphic design, I could write, and it all kind of came together.”

After college, Gebhardt worked in a few different positions, honing his skills and getting a feel for the industry, before starting his current position in 2011.

“On the surface, doing marketing for a jewelry company doesn’t sound that multi-faceted or that compelling. But Tivol is such a unique breed in the retail community,” he said, citing the company’s 100-plus year history in Kansas City and the Tivol family’s passion for philanthropy and community engagement.

When Gebhardt heard about the formation of the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, getting involved was a “no-brainer” ­– a perfect way for Tivol to support Kansas City’s people and economy.

Tivol signed on as an executive member of the MAGLCC. The company’s involvement with the chamber comes as no surprise. For years, Tivol has directly and indirectly supported the metro LGBT community, including contributing to the Kansas City Free Health Clinic and annually providing all of the awards for the local Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Celebration.

But no effort was more visible than an advertisement that Tivol ran in 2011, featuring an interracial gay couple shopping for wedding bands. Gebhardt said the campaign had its critics, but the community reaction was largely positive.

“To this day,” he said, “I’ll run into someone … and they find out what I do … and they’ll say ‘Thank Tivol for doing that. It meant a lot to me.’”

Despite this progressive streak, many people may still see Tivol as stodgy or exclusive because of its reputation for luxury. Gebhardt suggests that this could not be farther from the truth.

“We’re not that way at all,” he said. “We’re completely accommodating and very down to earth. Our doors are open to everyone.”

In the community or in the store, Tivol’s commitment to diversity and inclusion push Gebhardt professionally, he says.

“To know that this company totally supports me and every part of my life — and not only supports it, but is interested in it and celebrates it — it just makes me have all the more passion and drive to do excellent work for them in return,” he said.

So what’s next for Adam Gebhardt? With just under two years at Tivol, he says there’s still a lot to learn. He hopes to use the MAGLCC to network with new contacts and learn more about the business climate in Kansas City.

“We have some incredible leaders who are guiding the chamber, and in many ways I feel I am still relatively young in my career. I know they’re going to provide opportunities for growth.”

With Gebhardt’s drive, enthusiasm, creativity – and that smile of his when he talks about his job -- it’s clear that he (and Tivol) have a lot to look forward to.

Erin Canty is the editorial director for the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC), an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and their allies.

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