Wisconsin LGBT Chamber Announces Winners of the 2023 Business Awards

by | Oct 25, 2023 | 0 comments

MILWAUKEE, WI — The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce today announced the winners of its 2023 Business Awards, recognizing the contributions made by businesses and individuals in building a stronger LGBTQ and allied business community.

“The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is so proud to recognize these amazing businesses and individuals for the work they are doing to build a more welcoming and inclusive business community in Wisconsin,” said Jason Rae, President & CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “The recipients of this year’s Business Awards embody the values and vision of our Chamber and we are incredibly proud to recognize their accomplishments and the positive impact they are making. We are so excited to honor these champions of inclusion.”

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Those businesses and individuals earning awards this year are:

  • Corporate Partner of the Year: Kohler
  • LGBTQ Business of the Year: The Foster Lane
  • Allied Business of the Year: Ollie’s
  • Nonprofit Organization of the Year: Rainbow Alliance Advocacy
  • Business Resource Group of the Year: Molson Coors’ L.A.G.E.R. (LGBTQ+ and Allies Group Employee Resources)
  • John Ross Pruess Business Leader of the Year: Doug Wetzel of Ashton North LLC
  • Advocate of the Year: Vince Tripi

The awards will be presented during the Chamber’s Business Awards & Showcase event, presented by BMO, on the evening of Wednesday, October 25 at the Italian Community Center. The public is invited to attend. Tickets are available online.

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Here are some additional details on each of our 2023 award recipients:

  • Corporate Partner of the Year: Kohler Co.
    This award is given to a corporation that exemplifies diversity and inclusion within its workplace and the broader business community. Kohler Co. has been committed to significantly advancing LGBTQIA+ individuals in the workplace and fostering a culture of inclusion. For example, the Kohler PROUD Business Resource Group has worked to create and implement programming that helps employees understand the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals. They have also worked to engage customers from the LGBTQIA+ and ally communities through targeted events and advertising, while including LGBTQIA+ owned businesses in their corporate supply chain. Kohler has also provided donations to several non-profit organizations including PFLAG, Sheboygan LGBTQ Alliance, and Courage House MKE. In addition to a passionate and involved associate base, Kohler executive leaders have stepped up as allies on a regular basis and advocated for change and inclusion within the business. Kohler is an example of what companies can and should do to build a more inclusive and welcoming workplace.
  • LGBTQ Business of the Year: The Foster Lane
    This award recognizes a business that is 51% or more LGBTQ-owned that actively contributes to the advancement and enrichment of the diverse business community. The Foster Lane’s work aims to make lasting social change in Wisconsin by helping biological, foster, and adoptive families provide loving and productive environments for some of our state’s most vulnerable children. They have focused on creating even more change by building long-lasting partnerships with other Chamber members, showing the power the collaboration can have.
  • Allied Business of the Year: Ollie’s
    This award recognizes an allied-owned business that champions diversity and inclusion in its business practices. When Chef Dave’s son Ollie came out as trans, Dave closed down his restaurant and completely overhauled his award-winning business to ensure that his son’s new identity was respected and celebrated. That kind of decision is a model for what allies should aspire to when they get the chance.
  • Nonprofit Organization of the Year: Rainbow Alliance Advocacy
    This award goes to a nonprofit organization that empowers and contributes to the growth of the diverse business community. Rainbow Alliance Advocacy provides LGBTQ+ diversity education and LGBTQ+ community advocacy for the Fox Valley. The heart of their work is to give youth the empowerment they deserve that many LGBTQ+ adults never experienced as young people.
  • Business Resource Group of the Year: Molson Coors’ L.A.G.E.R. (LGBTQ+ and Allies Group Employee Resources)
    This award acknowledges an LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group (BRG) that promotes inclusivity within and beyond its organization and advocates for change. Molson Coors’ L.A.G.E.R. has been an active and engaged participant in the Chamber’s LGBT Workplace Alliance, helping provide best practices and advice to other LGBTQ+ BRGs around the state. They have worked to advocate for change internally, as well as help promote the company by BRG member attendance at multiple community events.
  • John Ross Pruess Business Leader of the Year: Doug Wetzel of Ashton North LLC
    This award is reserved for a dedicated individual from the LGBTQ+ community who has positively impacted our diverse business landscape. As a long-time Chamber member, Doug Wetzel has been a tireless champion of the work the Chamber does and a leader in the LGBTQ+ business community. He has been a passionate advocate for LGBT Business Enterprise certification and the power that the NGLCC and Wisconsin LGBT Chamber can have in helping drive business growth. His passion around supplier diversity is a model for other business leaders.
  • Advocate of the Year: Vince Tripi
    Given to an individual who has been a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion within the larger business community, this award champions those dedicated to driving positive transformation within it. Vince Tripi is a board member of Milwaukee Pride and has held the role as the PrideFest History Exhibit Curator since 2017. His community service work has had a significant impact on the LGBTQ+ community. Vince’s work facilitating programming for minority groups within the LGBTQ+ community, such as deaf and intersex persons, helps to end the plagues of isolation, loneliness, helplessness, and disengagement. In addition, he is an ardent advocate for inclusion within the business community, striving to push businesses to do more. Vince is a highly motivated and passionate individual who is committed to making a difference in the world.

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