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Dr. Stephanie Mahnke Appointed as Executive Director of The Tennessee Pride Chamber

Press Release Chamber News Release

Board President Brian Rosman, Board Member Kimber Beeler, Board Member Caitlyn Lovell & Executive Director Steph Mahnke at August's Brewing Up Business Event

The Tennessee Pride Chamber of Commerce (TNPC) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr. Stephanie Mahnke as its new Executive Director. Steph brings a wealth of experience, expertise, and a deep commitment to advancing LGBTQ+ equality in Tennessee.

Previously serving as the Director of the K.C. Potter Center and LGBTQI Life at Vanderbilt University, Steph demonstrated her ability to revitalize and strengthen organizations. With a distinguished professional background in education, Steph has a proven track record of leadership and community-building. Her dissertation, "A Place to Call Home: The Rhetoric of Filipinx-American Place-Making," exemplifies her dedication to inclusivity and the celebration of diverse cultural identities.

"I am incredibly honored and excited to take on this role at Tennessee Pride Chamber," said Steph Mahnke, Executive Director of The Tennessee Pride Chamber. "The potential to create more LGBTQ+ economic opportunities in Tennessee and the opportunity to support LGBTQ+ and allied businesses is both inspiring and deeply meaningful to me. I look forward to working closely with the board and the entire community to advance our shared vision."

Steph’s vision for TNPC is centered on fostering a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ businesses in Tennessee. She recognizes the challenges faced by this community, particularly considering evolving legislative landscapes. Steph will prioritize inclusivity, especially for vulnerable segments within the LGBTQ+ community. She plans to work closely with non-profit partners and members to develop programs that address key concerns, such as education, advocacy and creating business opportunities. Additionally, she aims to grow networking opportunities that bridge rural, sub-urban and urban LGBTQ+ and allied businesses across Tennessee.

“This year we commemorate our 25th year as a leading business voice for LGBTQ+ equality in Tennessee. It has been a year of transformation and growth in defiance of the legislative and cultural headwinds of anti-LGBT sentiment,” added Brian Rosman, President of the Tennessee Pride Chamber. “Steph will help expand our organization and programming to create more economic opportunities and make Tennessee a more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ professionals.”

In the last year, the TNPC board led a transformative rebranding and expansion, growing from the Nashville LGBT Chamber into the Tennessee Pride Chamber. The chamber has evolved into a powerful advocate, representing corporations, businesses, and professionals across the state. TNPC’s impact has extended far beyond Nashville, with the chamber now hosting programs and growing membership in multiple cities, including Murfreesboro, Franklin, Clarksville, and Chattanooga. Steph joins a growing team, which includes CJ Clark, Membership & Events Manager, a dedicated lobbyist to champion LGBTQ+ rights, and several communications and support contractors. The entire team is supported by several hundred members and a 15-person volunteer board representing the interests of corporations, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and professionals committed to LGBTQ+ equality in Tennessee. Last fall, TNPC in partnership with HRC organized the first-ever statewide candidate forum on LGBTQ+ issues. This year TNPC established a critical legal defense network and fund to safeguard drag artists, businesses, and festivals from local anti-LGBTQ+ prosecution, permit fights and selective code enforcement. As programming expanded, TNPC also shattered fundraising records and implemented the two most substantial grant programs in the organization’s 25-year history. These initiatives include direct support for six rural and suburban Pride festivals, including the upcoming Boro Pride on October 28 at Miller Coliseum. In partnership with the NGLCC, the organization awarded of over $100,000 to bolster LGBTQ+ owned bars and restaurants in Tennessee.

Steph’s appointment as Executive Director comes just ahead of TASTE, a food and drink festival at GEODIS Park on Sunday, October 8 from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM. This flavorful extravaganza, presented by Amazon, is a celebration of culinary diversity, showcasing over 30 local restaurants, food vendors, breweries, distilleries for an evening to eat, drink and support LGBTQ+ equality. The event also features entertainment from Beyond Wings Entertainment including drink-pouring aerialists, stilt walkers, disco head dancers, and more! Drag entertainment by Vidalia Anne Gentry, Justine Van de Blair, Vivica Steele, and Alexia Noelle Paris! Music brought to you by DJ Girl Friday and DJ Afrosheen. General Admission tickets start at $75. VIP tickets start at $100. Proceeds from TASTE benefit the Tennessee Pride Chamber Foundation, including its Legal Defense Network and Fund to protect drag performers, businesses and festivals impacted by the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation passed at the Tennessee Legislature.

For more information about TASTE and to secure your tickets, visit tnpridechamber.com.

To learn more about the Tennessee Pride Chamber follow us at @tnpridechamber on social media. Join the Tennessee Pride Chamber today at tnpridechamber.com.

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About Tennessee Pride Chamber

The Tennessee Pride Chamber represents hundreds of corporations, small businesses, and individual LGBTQ+ and allied professionals in Tennessee. Tennessee Pride Chamber programs are driven by the mantra, “Advocate, Educate, Connect.” We are a leading business voice on LGBTQ+ advocacy efforts at the state and local level representing a coalition of Tennessee businesses. We offer educational opportunities to our members to further their careers and grow their businesses. We connect our members and our communities to business and economic opportunities. The Tennessee Pride Chamber is the only affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in the state. To learn more about the Tennessee Pride Chamber follow us at @tnpridechamber on social media. Join the Tennessee Pride Chamber today at tnpridechamber.com.

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