With newly appointed director, new diversity resolutions for IBA
The Independence Business Alliance (IBA), Philadelphia’s LGBT chamber of commerce, is set to start 2016 with new leadership and new goals of expansion under the direction of Zachary Wilcha, who in October became the organization’s first executive director.
“Now that we have a staff member, we can build on nine years of work,” Wilcha told AL DÍA. “We are going to have the bandwidth to carry out some of the really great ideas that our board has been coming up with year after year.”
The organization is closing out this year by hosting the The Independence Business Alliance Annual Holiday Soiree!, an opportunity to network with more than 175 members of the LGBT and allied business community. “This will be a great place to make connexions to start 2016 on the right foot,” Wilcha said.
The newly appointed executive director already has several resolutions for next year, including the expansion of IBA’s member base into the different counties the chamber covers: Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania; Mercer, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties in New Jersey; and New Castle County in Delaware.
With about 300 members currently, the chamber would like to reach more than 500 in the next couple of years.
“Any business can be part of our chamber. We have many different businesses that are allies of the LGBT community with us,” Wilcha said. “And in fact some of our board members are allies as well.”
According to Wilcha, one of the challenges for the chamber is really in terms of diversity, a challenge he said is welcomed.
“Whether that diversity means geographically into any of the 11 counties we represent or along racial lines, we want to make sure our membership looks and feels a lot like the vibrant Philadelphia LGBT and allied community,” he said.
Policy supporting the business equality movement in Pennsylvania has always been part of its mission, and for 2016 IBA aims to continue partnering with state and local governments to promote the inclusion of LGBT classification, government procurement and passage of LGBT non-discriminatory laws.
On these issues, Wilcha said although the community has made great strides over the past couples of years, there is room for improvement. “And in fact in Philadelphia and in the State of Pennsylvania, LGBT classification is not one that counts for government procurements, so we would love to see that passed at the state and local level to make sure that our LGBT businesses have a seat at the table,” Wilcha said.
Other important projects for the next year include a collaboration with the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) to provide access to LGBT business for the 2016 DNC, as well as focusing on the creation of affinity groups — by industry and county — to better represent people in the Greater Philadelphia area. “We are focusing on students and young professionals in terms of engagement and outreach, and really concentrate in starting our IBA mentorship program,” Wilcha said.
The Independence Business Alliance Annual Holiday Soiree!
When: Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 6:00-9:00 pm
Where: Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, 220 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Tickets are $55 ea. for IBA Members and $75 ea. for non-members & guests. Tickets include an abundant and scrumptious selection of hors d’oeuvres, several food stations, and a 3-hour open bar.
Festive business-casual attire encouraged. Advanced registration and payment required. No tickets will be available at the door. Click on the PayPal link above to register.