Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-06-24
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



United Way of Chicago launches LGBT affinity group
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Seven years after launching an internal LGBT Employee Resource Group ( ERG ), United Way of Metropolitan Chicago has taken this outreach a step further with an external Pride Affinity Group under the organization's umbrella term, United Pride.

This isn't the first Pride Affinity Group created within the United Way system, however, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago holds the distinction of being the only chapter with an LGBT ERG.

United Pride, according to its website, "serves the LGBT community's range of needs both within United Way and in our neighborhoods to affect change and foster a culture of generosity and inclusion."

With Matt Katzfey ( United Way of Metropolitan Chicago director of corporate partnerships ) and Seth Vermilyea ( United Way of Metropolitan Chicago project manager ) as co-chairs, the LGBT ERG is the first of its kind in the United Way system and the only such group within United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. However, conversations have started about forming ERGs centered around other groups of employees. The group currently has about 20 members.

"The ERG holds quarterly meetings and we recently participated in Chicago's Pride Parade," said Vermilyea, who identifies as gay. "We invited our corporate partners including those on the executive committee to invite their LGBT ERG members to march with us in the parade. This wasn't the first year that we've marched in the parade and it won't be our last."

The Pride Affinity Group is made up of an 18-member external Executive Committee ( formed in late 2014 ), most of whom identify as LGBT. Those members include Chairperson Jerome Harper of Northern Trust and members Daniel Izquierdo, BMO Harris Bank; Liz Clark, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago; Andrea Densham, Childcare Network of Evanston; Joe Higgins, Comcast; Dr. Supriya Jasuja; Robert Mazzone, Exelon Corporation/ComEd; Jeremy McDole, Fifth Third Bank; Mel Parks, PwC; Peter Petros, Edelman; Jeremy Pettet, Salesforce Marketing Cloud; Rudy Rios, Ogilvy & Mather; Doug Sanborn, MillerCoors; Brett Taylor, The Executives' Club of Chicago; Jason VanLangen, GE Capital; Edward Wagner, AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Curtis Young, US Cellular; and Myles Brady, Howard Brown Health Center's first transgender outreach coordinator.

In deciding who would be members of the Executive Committee, United Way looked at people who are champions of diversity within their respective companies/organizations, outspoken about LGBT advocacy and parity and have the appropriate profile to deliver on the mission that the Pride Affinity Group has set up.

"We're excited for United Pride to serve as the philanthropic outlet for our corporate LGBT affinity groups, loyal donors, community activists and volunteers," said Andrea BazÃín, senior vice-president of Resource Development at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. "We strongly believe in justice and equality for everyone in our communities."

"United Pride gives us a unique opportunity to invest in a wide array of partner agencies that serve education, income, health and other basic needs of the LGBT community," said Harper. "The work we're doing as a committee is geared towards being successful because the issues and opportunities within the LGBT community are complex. Without a great deal of care we won't be able to affect the change that we want to see."

"When it comes to engagement across the region for United Pride and the Pride Affinity Group, the most important thing is hearing from Jerome and Edward about the importance of having good governance so the group will be set up for success in the future," said Katzfey, who identifies as straight."We're a new group so our goals are to make a concerted effort into the LGBT community in the areas of impact, influence, fund raising and volunteerism.

"A lot of work that United Way does in the LGBT community is funding agencies that are working with LGBT youth in the areas of employment, education and health. The group was adamant from the outset that when United Pride moved forward the group would do so in support of United Way's work not separately or in a different direction, but with a concerted focus towards the LGBT community."

Pride Affinity Group's key commitments, according to the press release announcing the formation of the group, "are to create a voice for LGBT inclusion in United Way's brand, communications, policies and investments as well as serve as mentors, role models, sponsors and colleagues who provide valuable knowledge and information on LGBT issues. The group is also tasked with establishing relationships with local organizations and LGBT ERG's, participating in and supporting LGBT community events as representatives of United Way and identifying and funding LGBT needs and services."

"As far as partnerships with outside entities, in August the group is volunteering with a free farmers market that gives local community members access to fresh produce in areas that are considered food deserts," said Wagner. "Additionally we're looking into neighborhoods throughout the Chicago area to identify an area where United Way has an infrastructure and we think we could have a significant impact relative to the LGBT community but also to other vulnerable communities in that area.

"We're working with United Way to figure out different options and then decide on a specific plan that focuses on schools and community centers that build on United Way infrastructure's that already exists in those key neighborhoods. This August initiative is focused on executive committee members but looking forward we're going to bring in other volunteers outside of the executive committee to participate."

"My own personal perspective about United Pride is we aren't doing this because of United Way or our corporate partners or staff," said Katzfey. "It's truly because the needs of the LGBT community are great and we can do something about it. That's exciting and challenging but it will give us great avenues for this group to move forward and perhaps to affect an amazing amount of change over a long period of time."

"In thinking about the ERG and now the Pride Alliance group, United Way was very deliberate in cleaning out our house before we invited such amazing, talented, gifted people in to take United Way into the LGBT community in a way they've never done before," said Vermilyea.

"Throughout my work in the non-profit sector I've consistently seen United Way have a tremendous impact on communities," said Wagner. "They're able to leverage resources in a really innovative way to achieve goals in so many critical areas. I think by being able to focus this energy in more of an LGBT lens United Way has a huge opportunity to have an impact on the LGBT community and mobilize the LGBT community to address other social injustices. "That's what motivated me to get involved. United Way is a great organization that's done so many great things. That energy is going to be focused on the LGBT community more so than ever before and that's really exciting for me."

"I'm concerned about issues related to parity within the community and access to services," said Harper. "In Chicago, Illinois and across the nation we have people on the ground who are doing grassroots work. That work must work in tandem with individuals who have the capacity and access to have conversations at the policy level and to advocate for funding for organizations that are serving the very complex important needs of the LGBT community.

"Partnering with United Way personally gives me an opportunity to have a seat at the table that historically has been a bit elusive. It's a great opportunity that United Way presents for us to sit in the room where decisions are made about fundraising from our community and grant making to our community."

See for more information.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

COVID-19 Replay closing July 5-6 after employee tests positive 2020-07-05 - The restaurant Replay Andersonville, 5358 N. Clark St., is closing July 5-6 after owner Mark Liberson posted on Facebook that an employee tested ...

Gay News

LGBT Chamber of Commerce hosts 'Business Is Open' panel 2020-07-04 - The LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois hosted the virtual panel event "Business Is Open: A Conversation With LGBTQ+ Business Owners" on June ...

Gay News

Chicago Sky hosts 'Unapologetically You' Pride virtual panel 2020-07-02 - In honor of Pride month, the Chicago Sky held a virtual panel "Being Unapologetically You" June 23 focused on success stories from three ...

Gay News

State law takes effect to strengthen Illinois workplace non-discrimination 2020-07-01 - Illinois' foundational civil rights law will now protect more workers from discrimination as a new statute to strengthen the Illinois Human Rights Act's ...

Gay News

Lighthouse notes Northalsted dropping Walsh Security 2020-06-30 - In a statement, the Lighthouse Foundation noted that the Northalsted Business Alliance ( NBA ) has terminated its relationship with Walsh Security. This ...

Gay News

Nonprofits can apply for charitable trust grants for food, housing 2020-06-30 - A grant program to help small nonprofit organizations provide food and housing assistance will begin taking applications July 1-Sept. 30, Illinois state Treasurer ...

Gay News

Assistance available to businesses affected by civil unrest 2020-06-26 - Illinois businesses and residents affected by civil unrest on May 26 through June 8 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. ...

Gay News

she crew leaders reflect on feats, end of organization 2020-06-24 - Six years after its founding, {she crew} has announced that the organization will be ending later this year. Co-founders Meredith Montgomery and Jess ...

Gay News

Elk Grove Village LGBTQ bar bought for $1.35M 2020-06-18 - The owner of Chicago's Admiral Theatre is selling the shuttered Phoenix Bar & Nightclub for $1.35 million to Elk Grove Village, which plans ...

Gay News

Local groups, experts praise pro-LGBTQ SCOTUS ruling 2020-06-15 - Local organizations and legal professionals reacted enthusiastically to the landmark June 15 decision declaring that LGBT Americans are protected by Title VII of ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.