The Texas Diversity Council successfully launched The Inaugural LGBT-Allies Diversity Summit in both the Gulf Coast (Jan. 17) and Greater San Antonio (Jan. 26). Attendees explored important LGBT issues through a panel discussion, wonderful keynote speakers, and educational breakout sessions. Here are the highlights of our half day forum.

Houston keynote speakers for this year included, Kara Boling, Senior Vice President & Chief of Operations Officer for VALIC (AIG), took the floor. Boling recognized that even though LGBT won the fight for marriage equality, there are still a lot of conversations that need to take place, and many changes to be made. “We are the change agents.” Boling said, and challenged us all to find our own managerial courage to make necessary changes, and start those difficult, uncomfortable, conversations.

Following Kara was former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who spoke on not only LGBT but also on fostering a wider diversity that is authentic and effective. Former Mayor Parker emphasized that diversity is much more than physical, “but real diversity is beyond that, it’s cultural, economic, geographic, experience, age” and so on and it is the responsibility of leaders to create a diverse and inclusive culture.

Highlighting Greater San Antonio’s event was Jeffrey Arndt, President and CEO, VIA Metropolitan Transit. Mr. Ardnt is also a Texas Diversity Council Board of Director Member. His commitment to Diversity & Inclusion was showcased as the audience walked away stating “Wow! I’m blown away…. great event…glad I came.”

The day also included panel and breakout sessions with an esteemed group of executive and community leaders. Among topics discussed were employee resource groups (ERGs), policies in schools, the global and cultural landscape, government public policy, organizational best practices, success stories and even coming out stories.

We want to thank our speakers, sponsors and supporters for making the Inaugural LGBT-Allies Diversity Summit a success. A special thanks to the Houston & San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce for their support and dedication.

The next in the Texas Diversity Council LGBT-Allies Diversity Summit Series will take place in Central Texas and Greater Dallas later this year. We hope to see you there!

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