Q&A: Steve Adkins Talks MDGLCC’s The Platinum Gala

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This year’s Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber Of Commerce (MDGLCC) 20th Annual Gala and Awards Celebration, “The Platinum Gala,” will feature a curator, some pop-ups and a moonlight starting at 6pm. It will also feature some awards as “The Platinum Gala,” will once again honor corporate and individual supporters of the Miami-Dade LGBTQ community. To catch all the fun and excitement, guests are encouraged to get their tickets before they surely sell out.  “The Platinum Gala,” will take place Saturday, May 18th, at the Hilton Miami Downtown, 1601 Biscayne Boulevard, and will again be sponsored by Wells Fargo.

“The Chamber’s annual gala celebration is one of our most popular and definitely our best-attended event of the year,” said Steve Adkins, MDGLCC president and CEO. “We anticipate a sell-out crowd of 500 guests who will mix, mingle, party and pass out stacks of business cards, all while honoring community leaders who have contributed to the enhancement of the South Florida LGBTQ community.”

It was a pleasure to sit down with Steve Adkins for this exclusive Hotspots interview:

Whose idea was it for the MDGLCC to start a Gala, and how did it come about?

The Annual Gala Awards Program started in 2001 and was the brainchild of the Chamber board.  At the time, there was no paid staff position at the Chamber. The board wanted to be able to add a paid Executive Director (“ED”) and, a Gala fundraiser seemed like the solution.  Mr. Miami Beach, Michael Aller, the Tourism Director for the City of Miami Beach was approached to assist the chamber in finding a host property for the event. The Eden Roc Miami Beach hosted the first 2 formal Chamber Gala Dinners to great crowds and, shortly thereafter MDGLCC hired its first ED. 

What made you pick colors for the theme every year?

I came on board in 2006 and, we decided that we needed to change up the event a bit by providing gala attendees with a dress code that identified with the LGBTA market.  So, we started with the rainbow flag (the first gala in 2006 that had a color theme decorated in all the flag colors). Each year thereafter, we took one color from the gay flag and, themed around it.  After we ran through all 6 colors, we switched over to gemstones, still keeping within the context of our theme. This year being our 20th Anniversary as an organization, Platinum was chosen. 

How does the award winners get chosen?

With the exception of Bob Balsam Community Service Award, all awards recipients must be chamber members in good standing for over two years.  The list is then reviewed and narrowed down by committee and, the finalists chosen by staff.

If someone has never been to the gala, what would you say to convince them to buy a ticket?

As opposed to other community events that take place throughout the year, the MDGLCC Gala is very corporate.  We focus on business and member visibility throughout the evening. As opposed to most formal gala’s where you are seated at a table throughout the evening, we provide our guests 3 hours of networking time to mix, exchange business cards, dine (a fabulous grand buffet dinner is provided), drink and, catch up with friends.  The event is really fun and, you meet movers and shakers in the community and, the color theme gives people a chance to present in a unique way.

What’s your favorite part of the Gala?

You will always fine me at registration welcoming everyone to the event…I love feeding off the energy as people enter the room.  I find that this is the best time to thank our members and guests, see all the clever attires and, make sure everyone moves into the event prepared to have a great time.  Our job at the chamber is all about people so, we want to ensure everyone feels welcome. 

What’s ahead for the MDGLCC?

Each summer we retire for several days to plan out the following year.  We believe that our programming resonates with our membership/community.  However, we always strive to identify new trends. We are known as an organization to be ahead of the curve with respect to innovative programming and, providing our membership the most effective means to generate business.   We have a number of new and expanded initiatives that we will unveil after our National Chamber conference in August so, make sure stay up to date and, read your PluggedIN E-Newsletters.

The ambiance at the Gala will be curated by Janet Fernandez and her team at Downtown Flowers. They will be bringing “The Platinum Gala,” to life though extraordinary floral arrangements which will be raffled off at the end of the event. This women-led business focusses on personalized service, curating the freshest flowers from all over the world to create magnificent floral arrangements with the goal to surpassing clients’ expectations.

Popping up at the event will be up to 20 “interactive pop-ups” networking opportunities. The pop-ups include a space near the ballroom to engage with guests during the evening. In addition to display materials and literature about the organization, each pop-up participant is encouraged to get creative and offer something interactive that will engage guests, make the experience more memorable and create buzz throughout the event about the interactivity. Cost for a pop-up space is $1,200 and includes two admissions to the Gala.

Next to networking, there’s nothing more fun at a gala than shopping. “The Platinum Gala,” will be no exception in offering a carefully curated selection of items at its silent auction. The premium items will encompass a wide range in categories — Arts & Culture, Food and Dining, Health and Wellness, Leisure, Retail, Sports, and Travel & Lodging.  Attendees will be able to bid on American Airlines vouchers, Deluxe Accommodations at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Staycation at the Confindante Miami Beach with a Poolside Cabana, Dance Lessons at Fred Astaire Coral Gables Studio, and a Colony Theater/Miami New Drama Premium Season Membership, among others. 

The Gala’s moonlight is the Moonlight Networking Soiree, which takes place after the awards ceremony. The Moonlight Networking Soiree rounds out the evening and allows guests to continue making connections while enjoying the open bar by Bacardi, featuring Grey Goose Vodka. 

Being honored at the gala are:

“AT&T Business of the Year Award”

NBC 6 South Florida

“Regions Business Persons of the Year Award”

Bertha Galindo-Crucet & Kevin Walsh

“Morgan Stanley Bob Balsam Civic Achievement Award”

Michael Bath

Tickets to “The Platinum Gala” are all VIP again this year, and are $2,200 for tables of 10 or $220 for individual tickets and include reserved seating, the grand buffet, an open bar, a VIP gift bag, and networking. Reservations are available online at Gybizmiami.com, or by calling (305) 673-4440.

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